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By Jessica Bowne | January 3, 2017 | Lifestyle
Come January even the toughest of us shudder at the idea of hitting the cold pavement to get in a run or dragging ourselves and all our winter gear to the gym before (or after) work. We spoke to 9 Boston fitness experts (including one of Rob Gronkowski’s brothers) on how to stay motivated this winter especially if you are training for the big prize, the Boston Marathon on April 17.
"Yoga is a perfect complement to most athletic endeavors especially those training for the marathon. Yoga postures (asanas) focus both on building strength and increasing flexibility resulting in lean and strong muscles. Yoga postures also stretch the fascia or the connective tissue which results in increased range of motion and can help with injury prevention. There are specific classes, like Yin Yoga, that focus just on passive fascia stretches. Many yoga postures also build a strong core. Poses like plank, side plank, and forearm plank are done multiple times in a yoga class. Transitions between poses all tone and strengthen the core as well. A strong core is essential for all sports, especially running and helps maintain healthy low back, hip flexors, and hips. Most importantly, yoga helps to focus the mind and builds mental strength. Yogis stay in difficult physical postures while breathing and keeping a positive attitude. This is a bonus for any endurance athlete. My husband, David Souza, who is an endurance runner and triathlete and who has just completed The 4Deserts Series as well as numerous Boston Marathons swears by yoga. He gives yoga two thumbs up for building core strength, for injury prevention, and for boosting mental toughness."
“I find cycling to be a great cross training method for running because you still get the cardiovascular intensity without the impact on your bones and muscles, which comes from pounding on the pavement. The zero impact of riding a bike gives your body a chance to recover and repair itself (and helps with soreness/flushing out lactic acid!). In the winter, I use indoor cycling classes as a way to cross-train. These have helped me the most with my speed. The speed intervals and varied resistance you get during an indoor cycling class seem similar to a track workout, where you are teaching your muscles what going fast feels like. Those repeat short bursts of max speed help shave tons of time off your PR.”
"To maintain strength and conditioning during the winter months, cross training is crucial for not only runners, but non-runners as well. I recommend our Tone classes that will help you gain strength and endurance throughout your core, legs and arms. Doing a low impact , resistance class like you do at Btone will keep you healthy and ready for your long runs. Movements are done slowly and methodically on our machines keeping one injury free. Incorporating strength and resistance training will help make you stronger and get you to that finish line on Boylston Street! If you are looking for something that is not running, but will still help you build your cardio endurance, the IndoRow workout is right for you. This is a full body workout, utilizing the power of your legs, core and arms, has no impact on your joints, and will aid in building your stamina and endurance for the marathon season."
“One of the most important parts of my training for the marathon is actually not running at all, it's cross training. I have learned a lot about my body after running four marathons, and know that tons of mileage can actually be more detrimental than helpful. To avoid aches, pains, and unwanted injury, I only include three training runs per week (1 easy run, 1 track workout, 1 long run) when I am preparing for a marathon. On the days that I don't run, I am usually teaching two indoor cycling classes at B/SPOKE or doing yoga. It's important for me to stay in good cardiovascular shape with something like cycling and it has a lot less impact on your bones and joints. Yoga helps to stretch out my hardworking muscles and also builds core strength, which is vital to get through 26.2 miles. I believe in training smarter, not harder."
“When marathon training starts, I often see runners ditch strength training in order to get in more mileage, but if muscles aren't strengthened and prepared to handle the workload associated with long distances of marathon training, the stress and impact gets transferred to the bones and joints. The last thing a dedicated runner wants is to get injured, so it’s important to maintain a strength training regimen with lower body work like squats and lunges, core strengthening and rotational movements. This type of training should complement the runs, so when training you wouldn’t want to do a heavy leg day just prior to a long run day.”
“It’s been quite some years since I’ve run the Boston Marathon myself, but I do have clients who train for and run marathons, and our major concerns are training in a way that reduces risk of injury. I suggest starting each running session with a brief foam roll warm up. Prior to each run start with a brief dynamic warm up for the legs; slow speed skaters, gentle squats, reverse lunges, heel raises, and slow high knee march. Vary your gait during longer runs to work different muscles. Start with a shuffle going heel to toe and using more calf muscle. Increase stride rate. Then increase stride length and notice how your landing changes. From there add intervals to your runs to increase speed. During a run increase speed for roughly one minute and then return to cruising speed for a minute. Within each speed interval increase and decrease speed gradually, adding 10-20 speed intervals which will break up a run and help you learn to cruise at faster speeds. Intervals are the best way to improve VO2 max, and the more efficiently your body processes oxygen, the easier a casual run will feel. After each run, treat your body to a brief stretch and a protein snack to help repair damaged tissue, and find a good masseuse. Worth the investment.”
“Gronk Fitness Programming is a great complement for long distance runners. Using Practical Sports Intervals in the Gronk Zones, you train your entire body and develop lean functional muscle - necessary for getting through those 26.2 miles. Building a stronger body all around, not just in the legs, can help long distance runners push through a race. More importantly, it can reduce the risk of injury from overusing the muscle needed for running.”
“Strength and core training are crucial to complement your running while you're in Marathon prep mode. Also crucial? Having fun. While training this winter, I'd definitely recommend a cardio dance class with the whole squad. Increasing your core strength, endurance, and flexibility (isolations and twerking will loosen those hips right up) will earn you major points on race day but most importantly laughing and being social will offset mental burnout - and remind you why you got into this thing in the first place.”
“I encourage runners training for a lengthy marathon to utilize a coach and create a game plan. This includes mapping out runs when there is optimal weather and also incorporating other modalities such as yoga, pilates and core engagement, strength training, stretching, and manual therapy. Not only does this prepare your entire body for the strength and endurance needed to run a challenging race, but it also helps to prevent injury; all of these training hours can be done indoors during the colder months. The FLX program at Millennium Tower Boston is a great example of this approach as our multi-faceted program offers personal wellness coaching, individualized program design, sport-specific training, mobility and flexibility training, aquatic fitness, yoga and pilates, group classes, physical therapy and nutritional guidance, all of which will help set you up for a new personal record!”
Photography by Kaitlyn Ferris (Souza); Matt Dunn (Barrett)