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Spice up your Cardio Workouts with some outdoor walk or runs

by Fred Dyck, YWCA Director of Fitness, B.Sc.P.E.

Its spring time. The weather so far has been great in Saskatoon. Getting outside on a warm spring day for some exercise is a great way to live well in Saskatoon. But, after getting those first couple of jogs or runs out of the way, you may find you have to look for other ways to motivate yourself to get out the door. How do you keep your running interest up? Here are a few tips that have worked for me in my 17 years of regular run training.

  1. Do some mobility work. As I have aged I do find my body benefits from more attention and maintenance of the joints and muscles. Regular mobility work has helped me improve movement and recover faster from hard workouts. In the picture attached Nima Nazemi, our main mobility coach has me complete a stretch-hold position to open my hips along with other benefits. This is a new exercise for me and I have work to do to get proficient at it. Its a great exercise for before or after a run…especially one where I may train up-tempo where hip-movement freedom is of benefit.
    • You begin this stretch with the PVC overhead. You can have the shaft such that the longer extension is to the side you will bend to. Then I bend to the side (as in the position I am in the picture).
    • Nima would like to see the shaft of the PVC pipe vertical once I am in the stretch-hold. I just cannot quite get there yet but I am working at it.
    • He wants me holding the position for up to two minutes per side. This I can do but some may find this challenging. Be patient with yourself.
    • I am actively engaging my right glute in this picture to push my right hip as far forward as I can. This I was able to do and its important to get the full benefit of the stretch-hold.
    • I also find a beneficial stretch to the ligaments and tendons of my right knee. Again, this is an area of importance to me as I age.
  2. I vary the speed I run. Although the “long slow distance” run is still my favorite I make sure each week has some types of runs at different speeds. This can be intervals, temp runs or hills in addition to that long, slow run.
  3. I pick different types of terrain to run on. One of my favorite places to run has become the Sutherland Dog park. The trails are so much fun and its a different run experience than straight, flat running on pavement. I walk more when I am on trails and my heart rate goes up and down accordingly. Running trails is like built-in interval training.
  4. I continue to strength train. Even though with the coming of spring I plan to run more often, I don’t give up on the squats, deadlifts and lunges. I might not lift as much or as often but I wont forget about it. I don’t let any week go by without some kettle bell swings.
  5. I supplement my cardio training with other equipment. I bike to work as many times a week as life allows, get on the rower for workouts and use our step machine in the gym occasionally.
  6. And I walk. I make sure my legs stay fresh and recovered by staying on my feet as much of the day as possible (trying always for those 10,000 steps). I try to get a good walk in almost every day. For example, in preparation for my last long race-event I entered in 2017, I supplemented my training with lots of walks. Through out that summer, I often coupled my runs with good long walks; sometimes on the same day but certainly on the day after my hard training runs. I used the walks to flush out the congestion my hard training workouts would build in my body. I found this practice helped my recoveries and allowed me to sustain a challenging training schedule throughout the summer. And…for me, the walks often had a golf club in my hand! No power carts for me. I carried my clubs and played as much golf as I could manage. You certainly do not need to play golf as a supplement to your run training. A good long walk with your dog is a great alternative.

Who do these tips apply to? I would say just about everyone. If your goal is to just get off the couch, walk-run a 5K or run your first half-marathon these ideas will help you train safely, productively and help sustain a long practice of being active every day. Its spring…get outside and enjoy it!