Flexibility vs Mobility

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I hate the word flexible! Almost everyday, I have a student tell me she’s not flexible. Here’s the problem, flexible is subjective. I am more flexible than many people but not at all flexible for a dancer.

Somewhere along the way, it became a reason to not try. If we let flexibility, or lack there of it, become a reason not to do something – we lose mobility. For example, if we don’t reach for our toes because we can’t touch them. We lose mobility in our hips that allow us to pick things up off the floor.

If we don’t work to extend our legs off the floor, we will shuffle our feet walking as we lose mobility in the hip flexors. The same is true for reaching up, to the side, etc. We need to work our joints, tendons and muscles in all directions to keep them fluid and functional.

I realized while teaching that any exercise perceived to require flexibility caused many to shut down and stop trying. Once I changed the focus to mobility and sometimes fluidity of movement, the effort changed.

I believe that one can gain mobility just as one can gain strength. There are many thoughts on stretching before or after exercising. I enjoy stretching so I often do it after a workout, but it doesn’t have to be a separate entity.

Many exercises require mobility. Of course yoga and pilates, but so do dead lifts, burpees, jump squats, shoulder press, chest fly, and lunges to name a few. Sometimes we just need to change our focus a little and the benefits of our fitness program increases greatly!

Do you consider yourself flexible? Has it stopped you in the past? What’s your favorite exercise that increases mobility and strength?

Mixing up routine

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It’s always a good idea to mix up fitness routines! Not only do our muscles need it, but our minds as well. It takes a lot of discipline to do the same movement repeatedly and not mentally check out.

Variation can come from the amount of weight, order of exercises or be more drastic by changing exercise style. When running or walking outside it’s a good idea to change the course or area you are walking/running.

I began meeting my friend to run once a week. Now we meet (or try to meet) three times a week. This has caused us to move our runs around. We’ve changed both location and distance. Even when you are talking and enjoying the conversation, it’s important to mix up the scenery and the road.

Some areas have more hills or longer distances. Occasionally, we reverse the run to mix it up. By changing routes, we have to be aware of objects in the road, different curves and corners. We also don’t feel overwhelmed by not being as far along as we think we are. It keeps our brains and muscles working hard :)

As for working out in the gym, I love different routines. I incorporate pilates, yoga and free weights in my schedule. Of course, I teach all of these styles which makes it much easier. Sometimes I take an exercise from one style and put it in another class. It keeps my students thinking and often stepping out of their comfort zone.

Picking a different area of focus also keeps it interesting. It might be the same exercise, but thinking about the legs or belly can change the dynamic of the exercise. Sometimes, thinking of the variations is enough exercise for the brain ;)

How do you mix up your routine? What’s your go-to exercise?

Jolly Jaunt 5k ~ Wind, Family, Friends and lots of Santas!

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Last year, the Jolly Jaunt was one of our favorite races! It was cold, but it was the first time the boys ran, and so many of our friends ran it felt warm (not really, but it was fun). This year, we were better prepared for the cold and were intrigued by the addition of the Santa suits.

How exactly would this work? Will it be comfortable? How many people will actually wear the suit? As you can see, they really did provide everyone with a suit, they were ok and clearly, many people wore them

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The kids’ race changed a little bit and they did different age groups. Both boys were in the half mile race. They were happy it was longer than the dash last year. The kids received Santa hats and fun metals. Here we are

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Shortly after we left the house, I realized I forgot my headphones. I had mixed feelings about this. I have been running without headphones with my friend, but we’ve been talking. I’ve never raced without music. Generally, I use it to distract me from hearing my breathing and aching legs.

I hadn’t felt bad running last week and didn’t notice my breathing as much. My goal was to hit a similar stride this race and see what happens. I started off feeling pretty good and not minding the lack of music.

My legs felt loose through the entire race. I was hoping to pick up the pace during the second mile, but that was the mile with hills and oh the wind. The wind was whipping at over 30 mph and running by the water increased the impact at certain points. Of course, it’s always windy by the water at this time of year and I felt pretty prepared for it.

I maintained for the second mile and was slightly faster in the third mile. Maintaining pace felt pretty good and I was psyched I could do it without music. Of course, no music meant constant running commentary in my head. Everything from hearing other runners talking on the course, to noticing the similarity of the footsteps falling on the pavement and breathing patterns. It was pretty rhythmical!

I contemplated the pros and cons of the Santa suits. It was really fun being surrounded by Santas. The beard, not so fun, I wound up turning mine backwards as I was eating it ;). The jackets were ok, but as you can see, they didn’t stay closed very well.

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I finished with a time of 32:20 which far surpassed last year’s 37:37. We had a blast, everyone in our group finished strong and was happy with our times :)

Have you done a Santa run or walk? Do you exercise outside as the weather changes?

Using video and photos for assistance

I have been wanting to do a headstand in yoga for quite some time! There are many pins on my Pinterest boards showing the progression, I asked my yoga teachers to help me after class and I watched others do it.

Everyone said, just use a wall. I had two major issues with working on headstand. One being fear. I had tried in the past and for the most part it was fine. I even got all the way up with people helping get my feet overhead. Then I tried with a little too much momentum and took a pretty good fall. That did it for a while. I was all set!

My other issue was I couldn’t find the right feeling. I knew I had to get my hips over my shoulders, but I couldn’t feel how close or how far they were from being in the right place.

I decided to not let my fear hold me back. There’s also a slight chance an instructor told me I would need upper body and core strength. Nothing like a challenge to help me get over my fear ;)

A co-worker and I had talked about yoga and fitness photos on Instagram. She told me that she props her phone up, takes a video and then uses a screenshot from the video. I’ve read about other people doing the same thing.

I was early to class and had the space to myself. I decided why not? I got out a yoga block to prop up my phone and gave it a go. While watching the video. I could clearly see where my hips were and how much further I needed to lift them.

I re-set my phone and was able to go right up into headstand. Now, I’ve done it several times. I needed an aha moment and my video provided it. Unfortunately, I deleted the first video while still at the gym (bad blogger) and only have the final one.

I did save the “best” screen shot.  While I did get both feet off the ground, my hips are a little forward for being the top of the headstand.Working toward headstand

Here is the second video from that day…Headstand

I have also enjoyed seeing my yoga photos. In general, I don’t like yoga with mirrors and I think it should be about the feel and not the aesthetic. That being said, I’ve been able to correct little things in my planks, and warriors. I find it helpful to see the picture and correct my form.

Do you like video, pictures or mirrors to help with your form? Do you find going upside down scary?

 

Increased mileage in November

So much for consistency ;). November was the first month I wasn’t traveling and could keep all of my running dates. Add in longer runs and I ran 16 miles more than October.

As the pictures show, the weather has changed! There have been some “warm” days and plenty of colder days. This is my first time running consistently in cooler weather. Shockingly, I like it. There are few bigger cold weather wimps than myself! With the right gear, I’m pretty warm once we’re going. A hot, post run shower is definitely needed, yet seems to make the experience even better. Not to mention, we have seen some beautiful and dramatic skies as the weather has changed.

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Unlike previous months where my mileage increased dramatically, my body felt pretty good. We were smart and mixed up our routes and mileage. A few times we ran 3 miles and once we did 6. The majority of our runs were 5 miles.

I have signed up for a fun run on New Year’s Day with my husband and friends. There is a 5.7 mile and a 3 mile option along with a polar plunge. I am crazy enough to sign up for the 5.7 miles but not the plunge ;)

With this in mind, it seemed time to pick up the mileage to 6. I was pleasantly surprised that our pace was the same for 6 miles as it is for 5 miles. Like everyone, the holidays provide a challenge.

We are working hard on keeping our routine. The mileage and days may be different, but we are going to do our best!!

Do you change your routine during the holidays? Does colder weather keep you from getting outside?

Our first turkey trot!

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My friends mentioned running on Thanksgiving and my husband had mentioned it in passing. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure. Now, I’m completely hooked and hope to do it every year.

The 5k, We Gather Together, is a fun run with a low registration fee in exchange for food donations. We decided to head over Wednesday for registration. It was pouring rain and just nasty out; yet this didn’t discourage the hundreds of runners from coming and donating food. They boasted t-shirts for the first 2,000 runners and I think they were right on!

This was definitely the biggest race we’ve run and there were many familiar faces in the crowd. Here is our crew…

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The kids ran the kids’ dash before the race and then cheered us on. How awesome is this cheering section?!?

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We drove through some snow squalls to get to the race and I wasn’t about to wimp out, but I wasn’t too psyched about the weather. It cleared a bit as we waited for the start and then we were running through picturesque Sandwich village.

There is something awesome about running with so many people through an old New England town (one of the first towns). I didn’t know what to expect from my legs. Wow, they came through!

I really want a solid under 30 minute finish and settled for 32 minutes. They asked everyone to line up according to their pace and I headed towards the 10 minute + section. I have never really needed to weave around other runners and walkers. I definitely was weaving and bobbing for the first half mile. After that, it evened out.

I’ve been hoping to run a race where my pace increases and doesn’t decrease. At the very least, it’s been holding steady. Not during this 5k! I increased speed with each mile and was able to finish strong. My legs felt good from the start and I felt pretty confident in my pace.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a 30 minute finish, but it felt good and I stuck with it. I’ve been running longer distances lately, but I didn’t know how that would translate. Pretty well for this race.

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After the race, we went home, showered and put on p.j.s to watch the parade. Then, I made this guy to bring to my parents house and boy did we feast!!

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Have you done a turkey trot? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Did you have snow?

Grateful for all fitness has given me

This year, I decided to think about how grateful I am for fitness in my life.

When I began exercising, it was to enhance my dancing. I never could have guessed all that it has given me!! It has truly enhanced all aspects of my life!!

I am thankful for…

An amazing group of students

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Everyday, I am lucky enough to teach a group of amazing people! Over the years, many of us have become good friends. We support each other through tough classes and tough days. My students never fail to bring great energy, a smile and encouragement. I can’t imagine not having them in my life!

Running friends

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I run with this friend every week, even in the rain! We have added many friends along the way, but we still have a standing date the two of us. When one of us isn’t feeling it, the other encourages and it is a wonderful way to catch up. We talk about our families, week, TV shows, and whatever comes to mind. Our mileage continues to climb and my friend even ran a half marathon this fall – so awesome!!

I’ve also added walking with friends. Somehow, my coffee dates have become walking or running dates. It allows us some privacy and the ability to take in the beautiful scenery around us.

Taking in the scenery

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Running outside has given us an opportunity to appreciate the changing seasons and the wacky New England weather. No matter what, we always have amazing views! We have even seen dolphins (extremely uncommon for where we were) and a fox. Of course many birds and now ducks. Each time, we comment on some beautiful vista and make sure we enjoy it, often taking photos for Instagram ;)

Running BOKS

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I love that I can play tag with the kids and demonstrate running games. I can show the different moves and help the kids have success. Most importantly, I can share my love of fitness with a great group of kids and keep them moving!

Traveling

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I love exploring different parts of the world, both far away and in our backyard. A steep set of stairs to an amazing village, beach or view doesn’t scare me. I can tackle the walk without hesitation and enjoy my surroundings. It’s nice to not always rely on cabs and public transportation. We have discovered many cool sights by simply walking around cities and villages.

Exploring with the kids

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Both boys love walking on the beach! They have also walked in a lot of different cities allowing us a slower pace and the ability to see our surroundings from a fresh perspective. They willingly explore our neighborhood, bike paths, nature trails and of course the beach. I love these family outings!

Adventures with my husband

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I love that we can go paddle boarding together, run 5Ks and explore the world. We often joke that we should wear pedometers on vacation to see just how far we’ve walked. It isn’t always far, but it’s always fun.

Family races

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We are getting ready for two fun family races. One is on Thanksgiving (if the weather cooperates) and another on December 7th. We are all excited to lace up our sneakers and have fun as a family and be joined by our friends.

How was fitness helped you? Have you exercised on Thanksgiving?