Sunday, May 20, 2012

Building a Strong Foundation

Looking back at last weeks Ice Age Trail 50K I think that there are three key factors that helped me complete this race.

First, I was under trained. It's easy to over-train and be tired going into an event. I was plagued with bouts of painful plantar fasciitis and had to take a couple of full weeks off from training earlier this month. My longest run going into this race was 22 miles. I felt good after the 22 miler which gave me confidence that I could go another 9 miles to complete the race.

Secondly, feeling good after my long runs rather than completely drained was another big part of my strategy. I slowed things down and incorporated a run / walk strategy. I removed the pressure of pace (mostly) from my training regimen and concentrated on building strength and endurance.

Finally and most importantly, I focused on building a strong foundation for core and strength. I know that I have mentioned this before, but I truly believe that this was physically what got me through my first 50K. Not only just finishing , but finishing strong and feeling good.

Since February I have been meeting up with a group three times per week for about an hour of some good core exercises. I try to change it up every few weeks for variety and add or subtract an exercise if it seems too easy, or even too complicated.

Here is our workout plan and I have also included a demonstration video for some of the exercises.

  • Warm up by jumping rope for 1 minute. (great cardio jump start, if you have not jumped rope for awhile, give this a shot!)
  • Forward lunges, alternating legs for 1 minute. We generally do this with weights in our hands, this is optional, you can work up to it.
  • Reverse lunges, alternating legs for 1 minute.
  • Squats - 1 minute. We started out using weights originally with the squats, we now do them without weights but hold the squat position for 10 - 15 seconds at times. Sometimes we have a little contest for some fun to see who can hold it the longest. This is awesome work for the quads, great for hilly runs!
  • Push ups - nothing fancy, just do your max push ups. I personally can do about 30 on my good days. Some of the others in my group can do a few more.
  • Flutter Kicks - 1 minute (it's great if you can do the full minute, if you have to stop a few seconds and continue that's ok too.)
  • V-ups - I tell everyone that the goal is to do 30 and more if you can. Here is a quick video on how to do a V-up. Note: My form is not nearly as good as shown in this video.

  • Russian Twists - 1 minute. Some members of our group do this with a weight in their hands.
  • Reptile Push-ups - No time limit, just do as many as you can. Demonstration video below.

  • Full Body Crunch - our goal is to do 30 or more of these.
  • Bicycle Crunches - 1 minute
  • Standard Plank - 60 - 70 seconds.
  • Side Plank Rotation - Our current goal is to do 20 reps on each side. 

  • Oblique Crunches - 1 minute on each side
  • Plank with leg lifts - we raise each leg for a 10 second count and have worked up to 5 reps on each side.

  • Stability Ball Leg Raises - goal is 30 + reps.
  • Stability Ball Bridges - I don't have a completely accurate video of this one, we actually add a step where we roll the ball out to an reverse plank type position after the bridge. We do 30 reps of this exercise.

  • Stability Ball Jacknife - 30 reps.

That's the end of round one, we do this entire routine twice. We do shorten up the second round for sake of time by reducing the Russian Twists, flutter kicks, and bicycles to 30 seconds rather than a full minute. This workout generally takes us about an hour and 10 minutes. This includes a water break here and there. Sometimes I try to push it and decrease the intervals between exercises. Sometimes we are a little slow transitioning to the the next exercise, speeding it up definitely increases the difficulty of the entire workout.

Disclaimer : Completing these exercises is difficult and certainly not for everyone. This workout is simply a conglomeration of exercises that I have put together from previous workouts and research over the last few months.

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