Squats, stability balls and stretches

The other day, a running friend of mine asked me how it’s going with my biokinetist? She knows all about bio’s because she often comes to track moaning about how sore she is and that her bio is a secret assassin. I blogged about my initial visit to Mari a while back. Mari is helping me to strengthen muscles and work on areas of my body which are not as strong as they could be, hoping this ultimately will help my running form.

Mari gave me some homework to do, which I have tried to do regularly. One is them involves rolling a ball under my foot to help with my collapsed arch. The other is to make sure I lift my head and not look down when I’m running. This may sound like an easy thing to do, but trust me, it takes concentration since I’m not used to running that way.

On one of my last visits to Mari, she realized that I am incredibly weak and even before I think of lifting my legs and knees when I run, that I need to work on strengthening them. She has given me a bunch of hamstring, glute, back and hip exercises to focus on.

I’ve been amazed at how difficult but also easy home gym is! Firstly it takes effort and discipline to do them. But they make me sweat like mad and I’m often stiff the following day so they definitely work.

To help me remember the exercise, Mari takes photographs of me at my appointment. Trust me, there’s no better image than seeing 1. Just how much weight I’ve put on, and 2. How tough simple exercises are such a strain for my body. I am seriously weak and have lots of work to do!

I giggle like crazy when I see the pics! I look like I’m in such pain and feel so awkard! LOL.

But yes, the bio is one of the best decisions I made. I am feeling stronger. I feel more confident and for the first time, I’m more in tune with my body and know and understand what I need to do to improve my running. I’ll keep you posted!

Eager beaver gym bunny

I woke up to a rainy day on Saturday but decided, well, it’s the New Year so no more excuses, if I couldn’t run out on the road, I’d head to gym instead.

I checked out the Planet Fitness schedule and spotted a Power Box class at 7:30am. Perfect timing! I’m out the house in good time, braced the flooded roads and arrived at the class 10 minutes ahead of time. I was feeling good! I was “pumped” and ready to go! *gym talk*

The class started with a bang and we were “round housing” and doing level 3 punches within the first 15 minutes of the class. Yikes! None of the warm up I was anticipating. With every leg kick I thought, this feels hectic, but I’m okay. I convinced myself that this was brilliant for leg strengthening which I need! My bum burned! My arms ached. I loved it!

After 60 minutes, I left the gym with a beautiful red face, my clothes drenched in sweat, heart racing and feeling fantastic…

But 24 hours later, I woke up this morning in pain! I could hardly move! My arms were limp, my legs were stiff and ached as I walked down the stairs to make coffee. Damnit! I could hardly move. 

I was stiff! But really stiff! Eina stiff! WTH? I do track and some running in the week. Was I really this unfit? A hot, arnica oil bath was absolute bliss to soothe my aching muscles.

As I lay in the silky water, I was smiling. Maybe I had been too keen. I suppose I had overdone it, acted a tad too eager? Everybody knows to take it easy when you head back to gym after a long break. On the opposite end, what a fantastic workout to strengthen my legs and core? Most definitely beneficial to my running. 

I was more impressed that I had actually gone to gym, on a Saturday morning, in the pouring rain! Ironically there’s something about that stiffness and muscle ache that is addictive. It makes your body feel alive! Makes you feel like you’ve pushed yourself over a cliff (in a happy way). I also know that the more I do it, the less pain I’ll be in, the stronger I’ll be.

Silly me! We’ve all been there, right? By the way, I’m gonna try out the hot yoga next week! Watch this space.

Running “normal”

Seeing my shadow on the ground whenever I run has always made me think that maybe my running form is not the best. I slouch forward (an entire blog post has been dedicated to this), my hips don’t move (as much as Shakira’s do) and it doesn’t look as if I’m comfy at all.

Every runner has their own form, their own way of swinging their arms and legs but I started to think that maybe if my form is that bad, it surely must be slowing me down when I run. So I went looking for professional advice.

I happened to see that Mari Naude, a biokineticist who I met through fellow runner @TanyaKovarsky a few years back, was offering running technique sessions. She had helped me a few years ago when I struggled with plantar fasciitis so I made an appointment to see her.

Within 5 minutes of the session, she had me running on a treadmill, taking a video of my running form. That was followed by flexibility tests of my hips, my back, even down to my toes, the big toe in particular. Then came the analysis…

My right foot is weak. Very weak. Even though my hips are flexible, they seem to stiffen up when I run due to the amount of pounding of my heel when I strike the ground. My legs are too straight when I run which is why my hips don’t have any movement. I am crossing my arms too much and using my upper body to do all the work. The slouching comes from fatigue and partly due to the fact that I’m not leaning forward with my hips correctly.

With a flood of info, all I could remember was that I have a spastic foot. Mari did say that correcting things would take many months of work and then showed me the first set of drills she wants me to perform. By the time I left her office, I was sweating!

What I loved about the session is that the videos were taken on my phone which means that I’ve watched them over and over. I’ve giggled so many times and thought I’d be brave enough to upload one and show you. LOL, enjoy!

Now the (not so funny) hard work begins.

Stripping down

Lately at track, I’ve been rewarding myself. Not with cupcakes (although other Running Junkies have spoilt us with some on the odd occasion) but by doing something that makes me really feel my body! 

I’ve taken my running shoes off and run the last lap or two barefoot! Let me tell you, it’s the most awesome feeling in the world! 

The grass is always cool and once I step out of my shoes, my feet feel a little lost and off balance. When I start to run, the ground feels hard after having been so cushioned in my asics. Suddenly I feel somehow connected to the ground. I can actually physically feel every footstep that I take. It’s as if I awaken my body and electricity shoots through my feet with each and every step. 

I’m not only faster on those laps but I feel freer (if there is such a word?). It’s difficult to explain but if feels like after a stressful day at work, and a hard quality session around the track, that I’m giving something back to my body in that final lap. That I’m in tune with both my body and my mind. 

We don’t often make time to truly connect with ourselves. I will *Google* and find out more because there must be loads of benefits to barefoot running? 

For now, it’s bliss!