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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Building Balanced Plates: Fueling Your Body for Success

GettyImages-934685754As athletes, we understand the importance of fueling our bodies properly to perform at our best. Whether you're hitting the gym regularly, training for a marathon, or simply aiming to lead a healthy lifestyle, how you balance your plate can significantly impact your energy levels, recovery, and overall well-being. That's why I'm introducing the concept of "Performance Plates" – a simple yet effective way to structure your meals based on your activity level and goals.

Let's break down the essential components of the Performance Plates for athletes first.

  • Protein: Vital for muscle repair and growth, protein supports recovery, and enhances
    strength, and reduces the risk of injury.

  • Color (Fruits and Vegetables): Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, colorful
    fruits and vegetables aid in reducing inflammation, supporting immune function, and
    promoting overall health.

  • Carbohydrates: Serving as the body's primary fuel source, carbohydrates are crucial for
    replenishing glycogen stores, sustaining energy levels, and optimizing performance,
    particularly during high-intensity exercise and endurance activities.

The First Plate: Low-Intensity Training and Rest Day Plate

Imagine your plate divided into halves and quarters. Half of your plate should be filled with
colorful fruits and vegetables. The remaining quarters are dedicated to protein and
carbohydrates, with an emphasis on lean protein sources and whole grains. This plate is perfect
for rest days, light bodyweight training, or when aiming for weight loss.


The Second Plate: Moderate Intensity Training Plate

For days when your workouts are a bit more intense – think moderate cardio sessions, strength
training, or longer runs – your plate shifts slightly. Divided into thirds, you'll still prioritize colorful
fruits and veggies, but now you'll increase your portions of protein and carbohydrates. This
balanced approach ensures sustained energy levels and supports muscle recovery and growth.

The Third Plate: Hard Intensity Training Plate

When your training demands peak performance – whether it's two-a-day practices,
high-intensity interval training, or pushing your limits in the weight room – your plate should
reflect this intensity. Half of your plate is now dedicated to carbohydrates to fuel your workouts
and support recovery, while protein and colorful fruits and vegetables make up the remaining
quarters.

By aligning your nutrition with your activity level and goals, you can optimize your performance,
enhance recovery and support long-term health. Whether you're striving for weight loss,
maintenance, or muscle gain, the principles of balanced Performance Plates can guide you
toward success.

Looking to better understand "your plate"? Download our Performance Plate handout to visually understand your nutrition needs based on your workout. 

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This blog was written by Michael Horner, an Aligned Health Practice Registered Dietitian.

 

Topics: nutrition protein carbs fruits and vegetables sports nutrition veggies

Give the Outdoors a Try!

T.Howard_bikingBeing a triathlete, most of my winters are spent stuck on the bike trainer or swimming countless laps in pools. When the weather finally breaks, I make every attempt to get outside and enjoy the outdoors and here’s why you should give it a try!

The Freedom of the Open Air

Working out under the open sky offers a sense of freedom and space that’s unparalleled. The fresh air, sounds of nature, and ever-changing scenery make every session unique and invigorating. Whether it’s a local park, bike path, or hiking trail, each setting provides a dynamic environment that keeps the workout engaging.

Variety and Community

One of the biggest benefits of outside workouts is the variety. Nature provides a natural playground with endless possibilities:

Trail Running: Great for cardiovascular health, building strength, and everchanging scenery.

Park Circuits: Use exercise stations or open areas for bodyweight circuits.

Outdoor Yoga: Enhance your practice in a serene setting and soak up the sun.

Outside workouts also offer a sense of community. Joining a local running club, fitness club, or participating in outdoor boot camps can lead to new friendships and a supportive network. I recommend our Free Tabata in The Park series at White River State Park. It’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded fitness enthusiasts and enjoy a high-intensity workout in a beautiful setting. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12pm in White River State Park directly across from the NCAA.

Practical Tips for Starting

Start Slow: Ease into outside workouts with short sessions. Understand that the heat will slow you down.

Dress Appropriately: Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the weather.

Stay Hydrated: Always carry water, especially in warm weather.

Be Mindful of Safety: Choose well-lit and populated areas and carry a phone for emergencies.

Have fun: Remember to smile and thank your body and mind for allowing you to practice fitness outside.

Outside workouts have been a game-changer for me. They remind me of the joy of being active in nature and the benefits it brings, both physically and mentally. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your fitness routine or want to try something new, step outside and give it a go. Your body and mind will thank you.

Stay active, stay healthy, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!


Our Women's Triathlon Training program kicks off next month. Join us for our 8-week training program with Kris and Tim! Click here for more information or to register!

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Topics: exercise at home swimming biking outdoor exercise physical fitness

Try New Things in Nutrition This Summer

GettyImages-537630734Summer is the perfect time to rejuvenate not only your spirit but also your diet. The warmer months bring an abundance of fresh produce, longer days, and a general sense of renewal, making it an ideal time to experiment with new nutritional habits. Here’s how you can make the most of summer by trying new things in your diet.

  1. Explore Local Farmers' Markets – One of the best ways to dive into new nutritional habits is by visiting local farmers' markets. These markets offer a wide variety of fresh, seasonal produce that you might not find in regular grocery stores. Trying out new fruits and vegetables can help you incorporate different nutrients into your diet, enhance your meals with vibrant flavors, and support local agriculture.
  • Try something unfamiliar: Pick up a fruit or vegetable you've never tried before, like starfruit, or purple carrots.
  • Ask for advice: Farmers are often happy to share cooking tips and recipes for their produce.
  1. Incorporate Plant-Based Meals – Summer is a fantastic time to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet. With an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits available, creating delicious, plant-based dishes can be easier and satisfying.
  • Grilled Veggie Skewers: Combine colorful bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms on skewers and grill them for a tasty, nutrient-packed meal.
  • Smoothie Bowls: Blend frozen berries, bananas, and spinach with a splash of almond milk, and top with granola, chia seeds, and fresh fruit.
  1. Hydrate with Natural Beverages – Staying hydrated is crucial during the hot summer months. Instead of reaching for sugary sodas or artificially flavored drinks, try hydrating with natural beverages.
  • Infused Water: Add slices of cucumber, lemon, mint, or berries to a jug of water for a refreshing twist.
  • Herbal Iced Teas: Brew herbal teas like hibiscus, peppermint, or chamomile and serve them chilled with a touch of honey or a squeeze of fresh citrus.
  1. Experiment with Global Cuisines – Summer is a wonderful time to broaden your culinary horizons by exploring global cuisines. Many cultures emphasize fresh, seasonal ingredients and bold flavors, which can add excitement to your meals.
  • Mediterranean Diet: Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Try dishes like Greek salads, hummus, and grilled fish.
  • Asian-Inspired Meals: Incorporate stir fry, sushi, and noodle salads with plenty of fresh veggies and lean proteins.
  1. Grow Your Own Produce – If you have space, consider starting a small garden. Growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables can be incredibly rewarding and ensures you have fresh, organic produce at your fingertips.
  • Herb Garden: Even a small windowsill can support a thriving herb garden with basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint.
  • Vegetable Patch: Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are relatively easy to grow and do well in summer gardens.
  1. Mindful Eating Outdoors – Take advantage of the beautiful weather by enjoying meals outside. Mindful eating, where you focus on the taste, texture, and experience of eating, can enhance your relationship with food and improve digestion.
  • Picnics in the Park: Pack a healthy picnic with whole-grain sandwiches, fresh fruit, and vegetable sticks.
  • Al Fresco Dining: Set up a dining area on your patio or balcony and enjoy meals with family and friends in the open air.
  1. Make Healthy Frozen Treats - Beat the heat with homemade frozen treats that are both delicious and nutritious.
  • Fruit Popsicles: Blend fresh fruit with a bit of juice or yogurt, pour into molds, and freeze.
  • Frozen Yogurt Bites: Dollop a spoonful of yogurt on a baking sheet, top with berries and a drizzle of honey, and freeze for a quick, healthy snack.

Summer offers a unique opportunity to refresh your diet and embrace new nutritional habits. By exploring local markets, incorporating plant-based meals, hydrating with natural beverages, experimenting with global cuisines, growing your own produce, practicing mindful eating, and indulging in healthy frozen treats, you can enhance your overall health and enjoy the season to its fullest. So, step out of your comfort zone and make this summer a delicious and nutritious adventure!

Learn how to build new, healthier habits whether you're trying to lose weight, manage a health issue, or just feel better. Click below to connect with a qualified nutrition coach who can give you the support and guidance you need to achieve your goals.

Schedule a Nutrition Coaching Session

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating summer fruits and vegetables

Empowering Fun: Joining Our Women’s Only Triathlon Training Group

Are you ready to dive into a world of empowerment, camaraderie, and exhilarating challenges? Look no further than our Women's only Triathlon Training group! Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just dipping your toe into the world of triathlons, our group offers a supportive environment where women of all backgrounds and fitness levels come together to train, grow, and have a blast.

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A Sense of Community

One of the most rewarding aspects of our training group is the sense of community that flourishes among our members. From the moment you join, you'll be welcomed with open arms by a group of like-minded women who share your passion for fitness and adventure. Together, we celebrate each other's successes, lift each other up during challenges, and form friendships that extend far beyond the training sessions.

Empowerment Through Sport

Participating in a triathlon is about more than just crossing the finish line—it's about pushing your limits, conquering your fears, and realizing your full potential. In our Women's Only Training Group, we believe in the power of sport to empower women both physically and mentally. Whether you're tackling a challenging hill on the bike or digging deep during the final miles of a run, you'll discover a newfound sense of strength and resilience that will carry over into every aspect of your life.

Fun and Laughter

Who says training has to be all work and no play? In our group, we know how to have fun! Whether we're swapping race stories over post-workout smoothies, organizing group outings to explore new biking routes, or donning matching costumes for race day, there's never a dull moment when you're training with us. The laughter and camaraderie shared among our members make every workout feel like a celebration of the amazing things our bodies can accomplish.

Breaking Barriers

As a women's only training group, we provide a safe and supportive space for women to break free from stereotypes, challenge societal norms, and redefine what it means to be an athlete. Whether you're a working mom juggling training sessions with family commitments or a retiree discovering a newfound passion for fitness, our group celebrates the unique journey of each and every member, proving that age, background, and experience are no barriers to achieving greatness.

Inspiring Role Models

In our training group, you'll find no shortage of inspiring role models to look up to. From seasoned triathletes who have conquered multiple IRONMAN races to beginners who are taking their first tentative steps into the world of endurance sports, our members come from all walks of life and bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to the table. Together, we lift each other up, support each other's goals, and inspire one another to reach new heights of greatness.

Joining our Women's Only Triathlon Training Group isn't just about becoming a better athlete—it's about joining a sisterhood of strong, empowered women who are ready to take on the world, one swim, bike, and run at a time. So, lace up your sneakers, pump up your tires, and get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. We can't wait to welcome you into our community! Get registered today!

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This blog was written by Tim Howard, NIFS Operations Manager and co-trainer for the NIFS Women's Only Tri-Training Program.

Topics: running group training women triathlon training program fitness community Go Girl

Health Benefits of a Sauna and Steam Room

GettyImages-1158207879(1)Fitness center amenities, such as a Sauna or Steam room are amongst the most popular for members of all ages. Members seek these amenities for potential benefits for physical and mental well-being. In this blog, you will learn some potential benefits of using these amenities.

Some advantages associated with using sauna and steam room amenities include:

1) Relaxation and Stress Reduction:

  • Both the sauna and steam room induce a state of relaxation and promote your sense of well-being by enhancing endorphins, natural mood enhancers, within your body.
  • What are endorphins? Endorphins are a natural hormone released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland within the brain which aids in relaxation, improved sleep, and overall well-being. Endorphins are released during times of exercise, eating, laughing with loved ones, etc.
2) Muscle Relaxation/Recovery:

  • Saunas and steam rooms are known to be “heat rooms” which could be uncomfortable for some, but the heat induced within these rooms promotes muscle relaxation thus resulting in improved blood circulation to bring important nutrients to your sore and/or injured muscles.
3) Improved Blood Circulation:

  • On the topic of blood circulation, saunas and steam rooms have a heat component that causes our blood vessels to dilate (or expand) thus allowing a better flow throughout the entire bodily system. In addition, this improved circulation is extremely beneficial for the center of our cardiovascular system – the heart.
4) Detoxification:

  • These “heat rooms” are beneficial for detoxification because what happens when we sit in a hot room for an extended period? We sweat. Sweating is our natural method of discarding any waste or toxins within our body thus cleansing the body and allowing us to feel rejuvenated after a “heat room” session.
5) Skin Health:

  • Related to detoxification, saunas, and steam rooms aid in skin health due to dilating (or expanding) our pores and allowing the discarding of dirt or dead skin cells. This is also connected to improved circulation due to the skin having a more radiant and clear appearance due to efficient blood flow throughout the body.
6) Improved Sleep:

  • If you’ve ever felt tired or ready for bed a few hours after a sauna and/or steam room session, don’t worry because it’s normal! This is caused by induced endorphins (function explained in Relaxation and Stress Reduction benefit of this blog) within the body and the overall body temperature being elevated due to being in the “heat room” and then being dropped after exiting. The time how efficiently one’s body temperature drops may vary, so some may become tired faster than others.


Food for thought: It's important to note that while many people find saunas and steam rooms beneficial, individuals with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and those with cardiovascular issues should consult with a healthcare professional before using these amenities! Additionally, staying hydrated is extremely crucial when using saunas and steam rooms to avoid dehydration in the process. 

To make the sauna experience more pleasant for everyone, use good judgment and follow these etiquette rules:

1. Enter and leave quickly and quietly, closing the door completely.
2. Wear gym clothes, a swimsuit, or a towel.
3. Use a towel to sit on and wipe off your perspiration.
4. Never pour liquid on the rocks.
5. Maintain the relaxation vibe…don’t bring your phone and do not exercise. 

 

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This blog was written by Deveon Martin BS, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist.

 

Topics: hydration heart rate relaxation circulation heat sauna detox steam room detoxification

The Power of Fiber in an Athlete's Diet

GettyImages-1500051624For athletes and gym enthusiasts, performance and recovery are top priorities. While protein often takes center stage in their nutrition plans, there's an unsung hero that deserves more spotlight: dietary fiber. This essential nutrient, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, plays a crucial role in maintaining not just overall health, but also enhancing athletic performance and recovery.

Firstly, fiber aids in digestion and promotes gut health, which is foundational for athletes. A healthy gut flora improves nutrient absorption, ensuring that all the proteins, vitamins, and minerals consumed are better utilized by the body. This optimal nutrient absorption supports muscle repair and growth, critical for recovery and performance.

Moreover, fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels, helping provide a steady stream of energy during prolonged physical activities. For athletes, stable energy levels mean sustained performance, preventing the highs and lows that can impact endurance and stamina. This is especially beneficial during long training sessions or competitions.

Additionally, fiber's role in weight management is invaluable. It provides a sense of fullness, helping control appetite and support body composition goals—a key aspect for athletes aiming to maintain a specific weight class or optimize their power-to-weight ratio.

Incorporating a variety of fiber-rich foods into an athlete's diet can also reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of many high-fiber foods support the body's natural healing process, enabling athletes to bounce back quicker from intense workouts.

The inclusion of fiber in an athlete's diet offers multifaceted benefits, from enhancing gut health and energy regulation to supporting weight management and reducing inflammation. It's time fiber starts to receive some attention like other nutrients in the sports nutrition arena, as it's clear that it plays a critical role in an athlete's health, recovery, and performance. 

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This blog was written by Michael Horner, an Aligned Health Practice Registered Dietitian.

Topics: nutrition fiber sports nutrition

The Benefits of NIFS for a College Student

As a full-time student, balancing your studies, work, and health can be difficult. I have found one of the best ways to relieve stress, stay healthy, and feel good overall is through working out. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed working out—not just for my physical health, but my mental health as well. It has always been a way for me to work through my emotions, good or bad, and it always makes me feel better in the end, even if the workout is difficult.

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An Outlet for Movement and Mindfulness

NIFS has been my go-to gym since starting college in 2021. Whether l am lifting weights or participating in group fitness classes, moving my body has always helped take my mind off of things when I need to clear my head and relax. NIFS has allowed me to have multiple outlets for movement all in one place with its variety of equipment and classes ranging from things that work my body, like our Zumba class, to relax my mind, like our yoga classes.

Social Benefits

NIFS has also been a place where I have met some amazing people. It’s a wonderful place to be social and work with like-minded people who push you to be your best even when you do not feel like it. It has been a great community that I have found myself and others thriving in. There is a mix of both students and regular gym-goers from the community that promotes all kinds of different interactions. In fact, some of my favorite people I have met are not even students and have even helped me outside of the gym.

Overall, NIFS has been extremely beneficial to me as a full-time, working student. It allows me to balance my studies and work with my mental and physical health. The community and environment are healthy and promote people to be their best selves. I couldn’t imagine being a student and not having NIFS as my outlet.

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This blog was written by Sydney Poindexter, NIFS Membership Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness Zumba students working out

Walk Before You Run: Prioritizing Nutrition for Fat Loss

Embarking on a journey toward fat loss or body recomposition is akin to preparing for a marathon. Just as you wouldn't sprint at the start line, nutritionally, it's vital to "walk before you run." This philosophy underscores the importance of gradual, sustainable steps in dietary adjustments, emphasizing the hierarchy of nutritional priorities that catalyze progress.

GettyImages-1261754581(2)The Cornerstone of Nutrition: Caloric Intake

At the heart of any effective fat loss or recomposition strategy is managing caloric intake. The first step isn't intricately tracking every morsel, but understanding that the energy you consume versus the energy you expend dictates your body's changes. This principle doesn't necessitate immediate, meticulous food logging. Instead, start by becoming mindful of your eating habits and recognizing patterns that may contribute to excess calorie consumption. Simple adjustments, like reducing portion sizes or limiting high-calorie, nutrient-poor snacks, can initiate progress without overwhelming you with the nuances of calorie counting.

The Second Pillar: Protein Intake

Protein plays a pivotal role in preserving muscle mass during a calorie deficit and in supporting muscle growth during recomposition phases. However, before diving into the complexities of macronutrient ratios, focus on incorporating quality protein sources into your meals consistently. Choices like lean meats, fish, dairy, and plant-based proteins not only support your body’s needs but also contribute to satiety, helping you manage overall calorie intake more effectively.

Laying the Foundation: Eating Habits and Food Choices

Before delving into the specifics of tracking, the foundation of your nutritional strategy should be establishing regular eating patterns and making healthful food choices. Eating at consistent times aids in managing hunger and energy levels, preventing overeating. Gradually shifting your diet toward whole, nutrient-dense foods improves your overall nutrient intake, setting the stage for more detailed nutritional strategies like macronutrient tracking.

In essence, successful nutrition planning for fat loss or body recomposition mirrors the adage of "walk before you run." Start with broad, manageable changes in eating habits and food choices (and see this blog for where to start in other areas). As these become ingrained, refine your focus toward caloric and protein intake. This phased approach not only promotes physical progress but also fosters a healthier relationship with food, ensuring long-term success on your journey.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, an Aligned Health Practice Registered Dietitian.

Topics: nutrition calories protein mindfulness body composition fat loss

5-Minute Stretching Routine to Relieve Stress

Stretching promotes relaxation and stress relief. It can help calm the mind, improve focus, and reduce mental tension, making it a beneficial practice for both physical and mental well-being.

Use these five stretches to relax the body and help reduce stress.

CHILD'S POSE

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Your lower back is a prime place for the body to hold tension. Stretches like this one, which elongates the back, release low back tightness and stiffness. This stretch can also promote healthy sleep, according to Harvard Health Publishing. 

How to Do It:  Kneel on the floor. Bring your feet together and open your knees to create a V shape. Sit back, keeping your butt on or reaching toward your heels, and walk your hands in front of you so that your chest lowers to the ground. Breathe deeply through your diaphragm. Add cushioning (such as a pillow) under your lower body if you’re having discomfort with kneeling. You can also limit how far you move your head and chest toward the floor to make the pose easier. 

 

HAPPY BABY

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The benefit of this stretch is that it will help open your hips, which is a common reason for a tight back. It also helps relieve back tightness by loosening up your lower lumbar spine. 

 

How to Do It:  Lying on your back, lift your knees toward your chest. Grab the bottoms of each foot with your hands and pull your knees toward your chest and armpits. If you can’t reach your feet, grab your lower legs. 

 

ROTATIONAL NECK STRETCH

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Reacting to stress by tensing up your neck and scalp muscles can trigger a tension headache. To keep healthy flexion in your neck and let go of tightness, this simple and effective neck stretch targets the muscles in the back of your neck. 

How to Do It:  Bring your chin to your chest and rotate it toward an armpit. If you need more stretch, try placing your hand on the back of your head and pushing your head closer to your armpit. Repeat, rotating your chin to the other armpit. Be mindful not to elevate your shoulders, keeping them relaxed throughout the stretch. 

 

WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD FOLD WITH CHEST EXPANSION

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This stretch targets your upper and lower body, making it a perfect do-it-all move. It’s especially great for tight hamstrings (common in walkers and runners), as well as tight chest and shoulder muscles (common if you often sit at a desk typing).  

How to Do It:  Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Softly bend your knees. Hold one end of a small towel in one hand with your palm facing behind you, then reach your opposite hand back to grab the other end of the towel. Inhale and roll your shoulders back and down. Exhale and slowly fold forward (focus on hinging at your hips). Move your arms forward to draw your knuckles toward the ceiling (and downward toward the floor if you can). For more stability, keep your hands at your hips as you bend forward. 

 

CHEST OPENER

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This is a great at-your-desk stretch when you need a quick release. This stretch promotes proper posture and releases tension through your chest to maximize oxygen and circulation. 

How to Do It:  Clasp your hands behind your back, squeeze your upper shoulder blades toward each other behind you, and push out through your chest. Keep your core straight and avoid overextending your back

Interested in an individual stretching session? Contact Chris to schedule a session.

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This blog was written by Chris McDonald, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: yoga stretching stretch stress relief stretches

A Little Strength Goes a Long Way

The Pain-Free Three workout was created years ago for NIFS Mini Marathon runners and walkers, the moves are effective for a quick and easy way to boost your leg and core strength. You will develop the supporting muscles to balance out the weakness you may have. Strengthen your glutes, and hamstrings with the Deadlift. The quads and core get work with Lunge variations and the upper body and core get work with the Inchworm. As with any program consistence is the key. There is a training plan below but a few reps of each of these before and after your running or walking will keep your body strong as you increase your mileage in the coming weeks. Running the Mini Marathon is a wonderful way to test your fitness, but the last thing you want is to be hurting at the starting line.

 Three moves to assist you in being your best!

These exercises can serve as a warm-up and/or cool-down. While they initially may be difficult to perform, keep working at them and ultimately they will serve as a perfect complement to your running or walking routine.

Weeks 1 – 8: Perform exercises 3 times per week.
Weeks 9 – 14: Perform exercises 2 times per week.
Weeks 15 – 16: Perform exercises once per week.

1. One Leg Deadlift with Touch (Hamstring, Glute, Back, Core, Shoulder)

Stand tall on one leg (knee slightly bent); stay stiff from the top of your head to the opposite heel.

Place a target in front of you and one on each side. Hinge at your hips, and lean forward, until your body is in a T shape. Using the opposite hand of the leg you are standing on, reach in front of you as far as possible. Slowly return to the start position. Adjust targets if needed.

Next, hinge at the hips and reach out to the opposite side of the leg you are standing on. Slowly come back to start. 

If you need help staying balanced, hold onto a chair, brace against a wall, etc. with a non-reaching hand. Each week you will notice your balance improving and your flexibility allowing you to reach further! 

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2. Lunge progression (Total Body)

Standing tall, bring your knee and toe up as high as possible without tilting back.

Stride out into a lunge with your front ankle directly under your knee, back knee flexed (knee may touch the floor to decrease difficulty), and shoulders over hips (not tilted forward).

Targeting the IT Band: At the bottom of the lunge, extend the arm opposite of the stride leg up and lean over to the opposite side. Feel the stretch along your side, down to the hip. Come back to the center and push off the back leg to start the next step. Proceed with high knee/ toes on that leg (squeezing the glute of the standing leg will help with stability). Perform 2 lunges and stretches per leg.

Targeting the Total Body: At the bottom of the lunge, bring your arms up and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Turn your shoulders toward the side of the front leg, looking as far to that side as you can. Turn back and stride into the opposite side. Perform 2 lunges and stretches per leg.

3. Inchworm

Begin with your hands and feet touching the floor (bend knees, if necessary). Walk your hands out to the push-up position. Perform 2-5 pushups, keeping your body in a straight line. Drop to your knees if you cannot keep your hips from sagging (quality over quantity). 

After the last push-up, keep your hands planted, and drive your hips up, then take small steps forward (driving your heels into the floor) until your knees are slightly bent. Walk out with your hands again and perform 2-5 push-ups.

After the second set of push-ups, bend your knees and walk your feet to your hands. Shift your weight to your feet and slowly rise. Perform 4-6 repetitions.

 

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer, and USTA at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running mini marathon strength core strength 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program dynamic stretching