New Year’s Resolutions Light: Start 2019 with Joy

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Year after year… The year 2018 is about to end, 2019 is awaiting and everyone is shooting for the moon. People have their resolutions – fair enough. However, lots of them are unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve, which, eventually, only leads to frustration and despair. We therefore plead for less resolutions and more fun! We would here like to provide you with a couple of tips, which should spice up and facilitate your running routines without major effort. This should help you to switch focus to what you have achieved and to preserving it, instead of pursuing unrealistic goals. It is only as soon as you have managed this that you can go on to setting up new resolutions.

Run for fun

Due to all the planning, all our goals and stressful everyday lives, it is easy to forget why we run: for pleasure (at least, that’s what we hope)! Before training, try to consciously reflect on your personal motivation for running.

  • Is it moving out in nature and in the fresh air? Then enjoy it! Consciously breathe the air in and out, take in the surroundings in which you move and let the good feeling spread in your body.
  • Is it the tuning out of the stress in everyday life? When this everyday stress is especially present, we sometimes have trouble to switch it off. BUT: This is exactly when we need it the most! The time spent on running will be gone anyways, so, what’s the use in being concerned about time running away? Instead, try to consciously draw a line when tying your shoes and to tell yourself “this is a treat for myself”. We are convinced that, after this personal timeout, all the other stuff will be a bit easier, too.
  • Is it, after all, mostly knowing that it gets you closer to your goals? Then try to formulate that in a positive way: instead of always thinking where you want to go, you should also pat yourself on the back from time to time and look at how far you’ve come already.
  • Is it for other reasons? No matter what they are: keep reminding yourself of your personal motivation and formulate it positively, so that, even in 2018, you can say with conviction: I’ll keep on running!

Recovery

Even longer, even faster, even further… Runners have numerous goals. However, we often forget that progress only comes with recovery. We therefore encourage you to invest enough time in it. The following tips should help you with this:

Stretching

Yes, it is sometimes annoying if you have to take your time for stretching after training. I mean, really, you should do this and that, too. However, try to take your time for stretching 1-2x a week. It helps you to relax your muscles, to stay flexible and to recover more quickly. In our online running.COACH training plan, ideas for stretching exercises are displayed automatically. Here are two ideas, which may make it a bit easier for you:

  • Multitasking: You are desperate to check your Facebook and your Intagram, too? There is a journal article you have been wanting to read for a long time? One thing does not necessary exclude the other! There are a lot of stretching exercises which can be executed while reading or writing. Here you can find an example of such efficient stretching.
  • Music: You think it’s boring to just do stretching? Well then, spice it up with music! Compile your own playlist or listen to radio. Watching TV works, too, of course. For the jokers amongst you, we here have a refreshing example of a musical backdrop. (ATTENTION: For stretching after training, we normally recommend to keep the position for 20-30 seconds. More serious stretching tips can be found directly in our training plan.)

Blackroll

Another evergreen is the blackroll (or foam roller). It is used in order to massage and to unblock your muscular fascia. This can cause quite some pain at the beginning. However, you get used to the pain from time to time. In this video you can see how to use it the best way. Here, too, it might all become a lot more endurable with accompanying music or some other kind of entertainment. You don’t need to use it everyday! But aside from the 1-2x stretching, there would theoretically be around 1-2x a week left for the foam roller, wouldn’t there…? And if you fail to get used to the pain anyhow, then treat yourself with a massage from time to time. Pain gets more endurable if you don’t have to inflict it onto your body yourself.

Bath

Your muscles will thank you for it! Especially in winter, it can be nice to treat yourself with a warm bath after training, in order to get warm again. Okay, if you already have to cover stretching AND foam rolling, there is really no time for a bath. We understand that, of course. BUT: Just see it as a reward, which you give to yourself from time to time. For example, after an especially tough or an especially long session. You decide for yourself, how often this should be!

Running food

Running makes you hungry. Therefore, it is important that we always keep our energy storage well filled. What does well mean? For us, this means with wholesome, healthy and delicious food. However, in our everyday lives, it can be a challenge to find the time for coming up with new recipes all the time. We therefore recommend you the following:

  • Make a plan for the week! On the weekend, think about what you would like to eat the upcoming week. You don’t have to plan for each day, since this might possibly stress you too much. Pick the days on which you have the most time and plan certain running menus for those specific days. If you already know what you will be cooking later in the week, you can consider that in your shopping at the start of the week. These specific days for running food do not provide you with running food menus for a whole week, however, it should make it easier for you to get your own ideas. You could, for example, simply swap certain ingredients in a recipe with different ones and thereby create something new in no time.

You can find some ideas for recipes here:

Runner’s breakfast

Runner’s lunch

Runner’s dinner

Last but not least…

… stop comparing yourself to others! Your best friend runs at a lower average pace than you do? Your younger brother has started running later than you have, and still, he can already keep up with you? SO WHAT? There are always people who are faster than yourself. Except, maybe, if your name is Usain Bolt or Mo Farah. We can get inspired by those people, but we should not let ourselves get too wound up by it. Do you belong to the people who tend to start cursing themselves if someone runs past them? Then let us tell you: DON’T! Be proud of what you have achieved and focus on your own progress!

And now, we wish you the best possible start to 2019 and a Happy New Year! And don’t forget: Keep on running!

 

Tips and tricks: Fascia training for runners

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Untrained fasciae contribute to various health problems that plague runners. Training them requires little effort, but it pays off.

Author: Senta Bitter, Dipl. Physio- and manual therapist, certified Pilates instructor, Medbase Zürich Löwenstrasse

Fasciae are eminently important for runners for two reasons: First, because they allow flexible, elastic movements. It is only thanks to fasciae, for example, that gazelles can jump for metres. This “catapult effect” also helps athletes. Thanks to the fasciae, the muscles function optimally.

The second reason why runners should take care of their fasciae is that impaired fasciae can contribute to a whole range of health problems. Whether Achilles tendonitis or “runner knee” – fasciae are always involved.

“Fascia chains”

Sometimes the cause of the pain is not where it hurts. Tightened fasciae on the left shoulder, for example, can cause pain up to the right leg. The fasciae form a network that runs through the entire body. Several fasciae are connected to each other like a chain – if it is stuck in one place, it affects a larger interconnected area (“chain”).

At least eight such “fascia chains” are known so far. The “large spiral chain”, for example, runs from the thick fascia on the sole of the foot over the Achilles tendon and calves up the back, over the skull and up to the eyebrows. Among other things, it is used for a more upright posture. Therefore, it makes sense for runners to train not only a few fasciae, but as many as possible. Strictly speaking, this is not training, but “making you suppler”. But: This training is essential. The best cardiovascular and muscle training is of little use if the fasciae do not participate!

Overloading, unusual strains or disturbed movements lead to the fasciae becoming stiffer. Colloquially, we speak of “sticking together”. At this point, so-called myofibroblasts start settling increasingly in the fascia. These are cells that occur, for example, in scars. They stiffen the fascial net, to the chagrin of the muscles and the human being, who becomes less mobile as a result.

Training fasciae: Bouncing, stretching and rolling out

Fasciae can be trained with three methods: Bouncing, stretching and rolling out. Good exercises are for example:

  • stand with your toes on a step, your heels overhanging, your knees straight. Then bounce out of a pre-stretch. Do the exercise three to four times a week.
  • If possible, stretch the fasciae daily, both single and entire fascia areas. Since stuck fasciae need time to loosen, they should remain in the stretched position for 45 to 60 seconds per position.
  • roll out the muscles three to four times a week with a hard ball or foam roll, from the one end of the muscle to the other.

An alternative to rolling out is fascia massage (Rolfing), a supplement to bouncing can be jumping on a trampoline.

Those who take care of their fasciae – and this is of course also recommended for non-runners – notice that they become more agile. The freer the fascia, the better the posture. But that doesn’t happen overnight. Several weeks of fascia training are necessary for success. Treat your body to it and take the time for it!

Tips for rolling out

If you are completely healthy, you can use this guide to start rolling out your fascia with the Foam Roll. However, if you have health problems, it is best to have the trainer at the gym or your physiotherapist show you how best to use the Foam Roll.

  • Roll hardness (density): The softer the foam roll, the lower the effect on the fascia. It is best to take the hardness that you tolerate. Beginners usually start better with a softer foam roll.
  • Spend about one minute per muscle. For both legs together, you calculate about five to seven minutes.
  • In the beginning it is often good not to lie on the roll with the whole body weight, but to roll out standing along a wall, for example with the lateral thigh.
  • Also roll out the sole of the foot – it is often forgotten.
  • When the foot rolls out, fluid is pressed out of the fascia. Drink enough to supply the body with fresh fluid again.
  • Before jogging, roll out quickly and briefly with the Foam Roll, it has a stimulating effect. After jogging, roll out slowly for a longer period of time.
  • Finding the right balance: If you have the feeling after rolling out that you have sore muscles or “bruises”, you expected too much of your fascia.
  • Avoid areas where the skin is irritated.