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When to Stretch for a Run

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Many runners are confused about when they should stretch for a run. In the past, it seemed like it was standard practice for runners to stretch both before and after a run. Stretching before and after a run was said to loosen your muscles, ease soreness, and help prevent running injuries. I did this for years until I read an article a few years ago in an ultra runner’s magazine. The article made me question my own stretching routine, so I decided to switch it up. Instead of stretching before my runs, I began to stretch only after my runs were completed. There was a noticeable difference after the first week once I stopped stretching before my runs. My legs actually felt sturdier during the runs, and I was convinced that stretching prior to a run was not the right thing for my body. However, I still continue to stretch after my runs to work out any tightness that I may feel, and also to help maintain my body’s flexibility.

I don’t think there is an absolute right or wrong when it comes stretching. I think that it depends primarily on the individual runner.  You should figure out what works best for you, and try not focus too much on what is said to be the “right way”. In some cases, you may prefer to not stretch at all for a run. Runner’s World has a very comprehensive article that touches on the topic of stretching.  There is also a video that can show you various types of dynamic stretches if you still feel the need to stretch your body.

The important thing to remember is that there really isn’t a right or wrong way to stretch for a run. If what you’re doing works, then keep doing it. On the other hand, if you are questioning your stretching routine, then don’t be afraid to try out a new technique. Like I said in a previous post; listen to your own body. Nobody knows when, or if, you need to stretch better than you.

Take life one mile at a time.

 

If You Don’t Like To Run…Then You’re Doing It Wrong

Friday, August 16th, 2013

I’ve heard many people over the years say why running is just “not for me.”  I think I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book as to why they don’t like running, don’t run at all anymore, or never even tried to run because of some sort of physical barrier.  I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always been a runner.  In high school, my running consisted entirely of what I did in football practice or games.  My attitude was, “If it was anything longer than 100 yards, then just go on with out me.”  However, once I became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, running became part of my culture.  My division is known for long distance runs in Area J (a sandy, wooded, and hilly area on Fort Bragg).  Our runs together in Area J were often times pretty tough, but it was something that brought us all closer together.  Today, Chris Barber and I still reminisce about those runs we had.  There is still an ongoing debate as to who was the fastest runner in our platoon, but it was an experience that he and I will never forget.

The power of long distance running is unmeasurable.  I think it’s crazy when I hear people tell me that they weren’t built for running.  There is enough science out there now that proves ALL human beings were built to be distance runners.  Running is what we do.  It’s in our DNA, and there is not other animal on the planet that can do it quite like us.  Our natural ability to run long distance has been a primary contributor to our evolutionary development and success.

Here are four little tips that may help get rid of a few of those excuses as to why you aren’t a distance runner:

1.) If your body hurts when you run, then you probably need to evaluate your running form.  We could get into the whole debate about running shoes, and minimalist versus support shoes, but form is often times the main culprit for running pain.

2.) Tailor your runs to your own personal wants and needs.  This means that you must listen to your own body.  If your running partner is much faster than you, then don’t risk injury just to be able to keep up with his or her pace.  There’s nothing wrong with pushing your physical fitness levels.  Actually, I highly encourage it in order to make you a stronger runner both mentally and physically.  However, do it judiciously.  Distance running is a game of patience, so just relax and take your time.

3.) Enjoy your runs by running in a comfortable environment.  This means if you don’t like to run in the heat, then schedule your runs for the early morning or in the evenings when the sun is not so intense.  Is your trail not too safe after dark?  Then run with a friend or during daylight hours.  The important thing is that you plan your runs in a safe and comfortable environment so that you can focus on running, and not be distracted by a whole lot of external factors.

4.) Be a grateful runner.  Not everyone in the world has an opportunity to enjoy running because of physical or mental disabilities.  It is something that we all take advantage of, but it is an important thought to keep in mind when you’re running.  I’m grateful every time I lace up my running shoes and get out there on the trails.  Having an appreciative outlook on your ability to run can be an enormous contributor to your motivation.

In the end, just get out there and run.  There are going to be things that work for you that don’t work for other people.  However, in order to find out what works you have to get out there and learn your body.  Find out what your physical and mental limits are, and don’t be afraid to set new ones.  And lastly, remember that we are all runners.  It’s not unique to only certain human beings.   Instead, running is in us all, but it is up to you to bring it out.

Take life one mile at a time.

Military-Style Pull Up Workout

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Pull ups are one of the best upper body workouts that you can do.  They force you to use all of the muscles above your waist in order to reach the top of the bar.  When done correctly (which means not kipping like a CrossFitter) you can seriously transform your upper body strength.  Your pull up workout should be done once a week in order to both maintain and achieve the best possible results.  You can also incorporate your pull up workout with your gym routine.  For example, I do my own personal pull up workout and workout my back muscles on the same day at the gym.  However, it is not imperative that you do both.  It is all about personal preference, as well as one’s own physical condition.  With that being said, you can also tailor the repetitions to fit your own physical abilities.  The repetitions provided in this workout are only a model for you follow.  I hope you enjoy the workout, and feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns while executing this exercise (brianansley.ba@gmail.com).

Equipment Needed:

- Dip Belt (optional)

- Weighted Plates (optional)

- Pull Up Bar

 

Pyramid Pull Ups (30-60 seconds of rest between sets):

 

Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 9 reps

Set 3: 8 reps

Set 4: 7 reps

Set 5: 6 reps

Set 6: 5 reps

Set 7: 4 reps

Set 8: 3 reps

Set 9: 2 reps

Set 10: 1 rep (hold your chin above the bar until muscle failure)

*Repeat pyramid sets, but this time work from 1 rep to 10 reps.  Once you’ve completed both pyramids, do the entire workout again as a chin up  workout (palms facing towards you this time).

Military-Style Pushup Workout

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Okay, SeriousRunners.  Here is a simple pushup workout that can be done just about anywhere, and requires very little equipment.  If you don’t have some of the equipment, then simply substitute it with something that you might have laying around the garage or basement.  Also, I would suggest wearing a watch so that you can keep precise time in between sets.  Remember to stay consistent with your 60 second rest times, and focus on correct form to achieve maximum results and avoid injuries. *If you have any questions regarding this workout, then just hit me up at brianansley.ba@gmail.com.

Equipment Needed:

1 – Swiss Ball (any size)

1 – Medicine Ball (any weight)

1 – Weighted Plate

Rest 60 seconds between each set

Standard Pushups (no weight):

Sets: 3

Regular Style (hands shoulder width apart): Max reps

Wide Style (hands further than shoulder width apart): Max reps

Diamond Style (hands close together to form a diamond): Max reps

Two Arm Medicine ball Pushups:

Sets: 4 (Close Grip on top of the medicine ball)

Reps: Max

Elevated Swiss Ball Pushup:

 Sets: 4

Reps: Max

One Arm Medicine Ball Pushup:

Sets: 4

Reps: Max

Weighted Pushup:

(Adjust weight accordingly)

Sets: 4

Reps: Max

*Repeat entire workout until muscle failure is achieved.

A Strong Upper Body Can Drastically Improve Your Run

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Runners have the tendency to focus primarily on the strength and condition of their lower body.  Obviously strong and well conditioned legs are vital aspect of a well-built runner.   However, upper body strength plays a key role in a runner’s form, efficiency, and overall success.  I realize how time consuming both running and putting in work at the gym can be.  The good news is that some of the best upper body workouts can be done in your garage, outside on your porch, or even at the park where you do some of your running.  The location of your workouts is not so much of a contributing factor to your success, but consistency is the thing that will be the game changer.  Just like training for a trail or road race, you must be just as consistent with training your upper body as well.

If there’s one thing I learned from my PT sessions as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, besides running my ass off, it’s that you can never get enough pushups and pull-ups in for a workout.  With that being said, I’ve taken this vast knowledge of military-style workouts and tweaked them in a way to SERIOUSLY step up anyone’s upper body strength.  Pull-ups are considered one of the best upper body workouts because it works every muscle above the waist.  I know there are some “modifications” out there now to the pull-up, such as the kipping pull-up that crossfitters use, but I like to stick to the old fashioned method.  The traditional pull-up forces you to use only your upper body muscles to reach the top of the bar.  Pushups are also an excellent upper body workout that can be done just about anywhere.  It is best to mix up your pushup routine with various styles of pushups, but again, the key is consistency as it is with anything else.

Having a strong upper body, as well as a solid core, allows you to keep your proper running form even as your legs begin to tire.  Not only does this help during your run, but it will also help fend off those nagging injuries that can occur.  As your body becomes tired during a run, your running form will begin to weaken.  Many runners don’t realize that this isn’t happening because of weak legs, or a poor conditioning level.  This is happening because your upper body is wearing out faster during your run than both your lower body and cardiovascular system.  According to a Runner’s World article online, Olympians, and elite runners alike, are taking part in strength training to help improve their running game.  According to the article, “Based on the various training programs used by the elites, it’s clear that we don’t yet know the ideal strength training routine. What we do know is that strength training in many different forms results in better running economy and an improvement in running time to exhaustion. Put simply, you’ll be able to run faster, longer and stronger.”

I will be posting my own personal pushup and pull-up workouts, with pictures, very soon.  It will be a very useful tool for runners at any level, and your upper body will love you for it (except for the initial soreness).   Bottom line; don’t neglect your upper body.  Think of running as a full body workout.  For that reason alone, it is just as important to have a strong upper body as it is to have a strong lower body when you’re out there burning up the street or trails.

Remember to keep an eye out for my military-style workouts that are coming very soon on Seriousrunning!

Brian Ansley – Adventure Racer Joins SeriousRunning

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Barb Wire Crawl

My name is Brian Ansley, and I’m a former United States Army paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.  I did two tours of duty conducting combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a total of 27 months.  Once I became a veteran, I realized that I needed to fill the lack of excitement that the civilian world recurrently brings to the table. I started doing road races, triathlons, and duathlons in 2010. In 2011, I became very serious about racing and eventually began running at the Ultra Marathon level.   In addition to traditional-style endurance races, I also began to run obstacle races. I qualified for the Spartan Race World Championship! Get $10 off, Use Code: SPEAR10 – Sign Up Now!, and placed in 14 additional races in the state of Texas throughout the year. 

In my free time I enjoy lifting weights, running, kayaking, hiking, and pretty much anything outdoors.  I also still remain true to my military roots, and continue to do military-style workouts on a weekly basis.  Much of my military-style workouts include a very intense pushup and pull-up workout, as well as ruck marches to strengthen both my lower and upper body.  In the past few years, I have really focused on my diet and what I put into my body.  I eat all organic foods, and stay away from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and preservatives.  I don’t follow any one specific diet plan, but I do try to minimize the amount of processed foods and grains that eat.

SeriousRunning has provided me with an exceptional opportunity to share the things that I love to do. My interaction with like-minded endurance athletes, veterans, and highly motivated individuals is an invaluable instrument to help others, as well as myself, to reach new levels of physical and mental toughness.

Running for military Veterans

Monday, July 15th, 2013

After serving for over 4 years in the Army, I started SeriousRunning without any idea of what to do. I had no experience in technology, social media, or “business,” only an attitude that “I can accomplish anything,” supplied by the U.S. Army. After being in combat, everything else in life is easy.

But it’s actually not, it’s difficult for Veterans to find equal paying jobs as civilian’s with the same years of experience. Civilian employers don’t seem to value military experience the same ways, they only value experience in particular skill sets. This is a mindset I hope to change, this is a problem that I want to try to help solve.

I’m starting by employing Veterans myself. All of SeriousRunning and National Trail Running Day’s proceeds will go toward employing Veterans.

I’m also going to raise awareness for the Veterans employment problems by running the XTERRA World Championship, a highly visible trail triathlon in Hawaii. Running is what connects my military persona to my civilian self. The regiment and structure of fitness is what separates those who execute, with those who can’t seem to take one step forward. I’ve been running prior to, during, and post my military service, but was told by doctors to stop running, but they didn’t say anything about trail triathalons….

If you’re interested in helping Veterans find employment, please email me, Chris Barber at chris@seriousrunning.com.

SeriousRunning back in bizness.

Monday, July 15th, 2013

SeriousRunning is back in business. The business of getting back in shape. After 20 years of competitive running, I had to stop due to injury. After MRIs, physical therapy, and a variety of treatments, I gave up on cardio exercise for the past 1.5 years. After trying all of these remedies, my doctor’s final advice was, “Just stop running.” I was devastated.

Running is what I had been doing my whole life. As long as I can walk, I want to run. Recently I got a doctor’s 2nd opinion, the prognosis: “You’ve over worked your running muscles, stop running….but do do any other fitness activities.” So I’m back and ready for my next challenge baby! I guess I’ll just have to be more careful about my only weakness, that I work too much…

I thought my knee issues stemmed from jumping out of airplanes in the 82nd Airborne Division or maybe from “taking a knee” too many times in Iraq, but I think I just overworked my running muscles. I’ve learned the importance of cross-training and plan to give myself a trail triatholon race goal instead of purely a run. I love to trail run, running will always be my passion, it’s what I’m best at, but we learn and grow by challenging ourselves in new ways. I will be competing in the XTERRA World Championships.

I started SeriousRunning with my brother, Jeff Barber, in 2008, and at that time trail running, adventure racing, and XTERRA began gaining popularity. I ran many of the XTERRA trail races and wrote about them here. I started National Trail Running Day in 2009 and had thousands of participants in the inaugural year. 2013 date TBD.

I want to come back from this injury, accomplish my goals, and prove to myself that “I’ve still got it.”

Hope you enjoy my efforts. I also plan to improve this site, please feel free to send me a message at chris@seriousrunning.com. Happy Trails!

Why Trail Running is becoming more Popular

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

trail-runners-runningRichard Burgunder recently published a great article about the rise in popularity of Trail Running named, “Trail Running:  Racing Towards the top in Popularity.”  In it he states that Trail Running is, “…considered the sixth most popular extreme sport s in the USA, only behind skating, skateboarding, paintball, climbing, and snowboarding.”  I’m not sure what type of skating this refers to, I assume roller skating, which I don’t consider very extreme.  Skateboarding and snowboarding are both board sports enjoyed by a different type of extreme athlete than the Trail Runner and Mountain Biker types and paintball is more of a game so I don’t consider it a sport.  Which leaves Trail Running as the 2nd most popular extreme sport behind rock climbing!  He goes on to say that in 2006 there were 6.7 million regular Trail Runners in the United States and at the current pace Trail Running will soon become the most popular extreme sport in the United States.

That is why we started National Trail Running Day last year with over 5,000 trail runners participating in events across the United States.  Plan an event, register it on the website and mark your calender for August 21st to do some serious Trail Running this year.  When we started National Trail Running Day some avid Trail Runners didn’t like the idea, citing the purity of the sport, being alone running on the trails and exploring paths on their own.  While we understand, we at SeriousRunning.com don’t agree; we think everyone should trail run, the more the merrier.  There are enough trails out there for all of us!  Share and review your favorite trails on our Trail Running listings and help your fellow Trail Runners get the most out of this awesome extreme sport.  We hope that the rise in popularity will lead to better Trail Running information, new gear to help make Trail Running more enjoyable, and an overall better social experience.

So why has Trail Running become so popular?  Well, first off, recently there has been a Running Boom Across America which we determined was due to the poor economy and translates well into the boom of Trail Running.  Many runners get tired of running the same routes and surfaces of road running and have ventured out to the trails for a new experience.  The transition from road running to trail running is simple, using many of the same techniques as running on roads.  Another reason is that Trail Running is easy to access; all you need is a trail.  While many trails have restrictions on mountain biking or horseback riding, virtually no trails exclude runners from running on them.  Even if trails do have restrictions on running then just walk fast if come across another hiker.

So what are you waiting for?  Get off the road and go Trail Running!

Great Trail Running Quote

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

“I keep running and when I get to a place I can’t run anymore, I turn around and run home.”

downhill-trail-running-manI read this quote in a running magazine a while back and thought it was really neat.  The quote comes from a trail runner explaining how, and probably more importantly, why he ran down a steep rock cliff that all the other runners stopped and walked down.  This quote symbolizes why I love to go serious and extreme  Trail Running.  It’s a freelance, exhilarating activity where you get whatever you put into it.  If you want to walk down the cliff, you can, but if you want to challenge yourself and heighten your senses, then you run down it.  It’s up to you. Challenge yourself.

Another important challenge behind this quote is not the decision the Trail Runner made to run down the cliff, but the decision to just simply run until he can’t run anymore.  How many of us have run until complete exhaustion where our bodies could not physically run anymore?  I want to challenge myself to do that more often (probably not on a remote trail though).  I truly don’t know what I could be capable of achieving in running until I run to complete exhaustion.

Bottom line, I’m sure the quoted trail runner didn’t stand at the top of the cliff and think, “Should I run down this?”  He just did it.  Hansel from the movie “Zoolander” said it best, “I just grip it and rip it, that’s just how I live my life bro.”  Grip it and Rip it on your next trail run.