Father’s Day Fun Run and Good Bye to an Old Friend

Today wOld Greenas Father’s Day. In what has become somewhat of a tradition the past 2 years, my daughters and I run the Rowayton Fun Run. You have a choice of 2.2 or 4.4 miles.  The race has multiple age groups and divisions including single stroller and double, etc. I was going to run it myself this year after running it pushing the jogging stroller last year, but my youngest daughter asked when we were going to run together like the last time. It was Father’s Day, and she is getting too big for the stroller anyway so I figured ok one last race for the jogging stroller.

Sign up is always easy and fast. The weather was much better this year and they had a near record turnout.  Despite some bib issues which were resolved quickly before the race and again after the race there were no issues. There is plenty of parking, registration goes fast, the cost is only $12.00, and goes the Rowayton Community Center. It is a win win for everyone.

I chose the 2.2 mile course again this year. I have been doing mostly middle distance running this year and figured the extra resistance from the stroller would be helpful in my training. Both the 2.2 and the 4.4 mile course are USATF certified courses. The t-shirts are always great and are designed by local artist Lynn Stephens Massey. This year they were super bright chartreuse, which will be perfect for those days I run and want to be visible. So I will definitely be wearing mine in the future.

The course is well marked and there are plenty of volunteers to keep you on track. The local Rowayton Fire Department was there in their fire truck to set the pace and the start of the race. The course works it’s way toward the beach and some sailboats secured by their moorings. It is a classic New England seaside town. It is something you might expect to see on a postcard. The course then goes through some residential areas before bringing you out once more where you get a final look at Long Island Sound before you hit one last long and steady uphill. Once you crest that hill it is home free. You turn a final corner and then you can see the finish line.

I was a bit sad running  this race, knowing this is likely the last time we will use the jogging stroller. I used that stroller back when my oldest was a baby. I used it when I was not even a “runner”, only using it for the times I decided to run longer than the sprints I used in my training.

Besides the many runs and Fun Runs there are two stories that come to mind when I think of that now faded green jogging stroller.

The first is when we would run the Norwalk Fun Run around the first week of December. We would decorate the stroller with battery operated Christmas lights, and don our chartreuse Santa hats, handiwork of my wife. They always started the strollers in the back. Even though there were no awards to be had my oldest always wanted to run as fast as she could. So my poor daughter would go for quite a ride as dad bounced and bounded over curbs and did some off-roading to make sure my daughter could run fast and still have her parent running with her.

The second story goes much further back. My oldest was three years old and I jogged over to the preschool to get her obviously with an empty stroller. Two guys were sitting on the street smoking a little Mother Nature and were very upset my stroller was empty. “Hey man, your baby is gone.” I knew right away they thought my daughter fell out. They offered to help me find her. I stopped running and started looking around frantically for my daughter. After about 15 seconds I stopped and started laughing and told them that it was really ok that I was going to get her.

I finished with a personal course record by 7 seconds.  That was good enough for 9th overall and 1st in the single stroller division.

It was a great Father’s Day morning, with the Rowayton Fun Run, and then a nice breakfast after. While I am sad to see the jogging stroller go, I hope I have provided a good example and the lesson of maintaining your health and staying active. Next year I hope my youngest will be running on her own.

Five For Friday!

5 for FridayI saw the hashtag #FiveforFriday and decided I would share my five fitness running and health tips for this Friday. So without further delay here are the tips in no particular order of importance.

1)      Incorporate lifting weights between 85-90% of your estimated one rep max. Watch the good things that start to happen with your running economy and efficiency.

2)      During your strength training, unless training for something, use the Hex Bar Deadlift instead of traditional deadlifts for increased power and speed.

3)      When running hills do not be afraid to incorporate shorter more intense sprints in the area of 10-50 meters to build power and speed and train your fast twitch muscle fibers. Use rest periods of between 30-60 seconds per every 10 meters of your sprint. This should give you an idea of how hard you should be running them and also allow for optimal recovery.

4)      I like to share recipes and some of my most popular blog posts have been when I have shared a recipe. Here is one people really liked. #Fishfriday!

5)      Never be afraid to shut down a workout when things do not feel right. If you feel pain stop. While you may think the best answer is to keep pushing, pain is nature’s way of saying something is wrong. Live to fight another day. I respect someone more who can force themselves to shut it down rather than some who ran or trained themselves into an injury.

Happy and Healthy Friday!

Hamstring Strengthening and Injury Prevention

While we may never reach an elite athlete level in our sport or even in our own age group we do share some similarities and commonalities with elite level athletes. I will focus on two of them. One is we push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves we can be and to get the most out of what our bodies can give. The second is like elite level athletes we get injured especially when we are training hard.

One of the most common running injuries especially to runners is to the hamstring. There are simple yet effective exercises to help prevent hamstring injuries and more significant hamstring injuries such as grade 2 and 3 tears.

First though to help prevent hamstring injuries and strengthen them you should have an understanding on how they work.

How the hamstrings work-When people say things like “My hamstring is tight” or “I pulled my hamstring” they are actually speaking of three muscles that comprise of the hamstring.

Hamstring Illustration

Runner-Hip Extention  They are the Biceps Femoris, Semitendinous, and the Semimembranous. These muscles run along the back of the leg from the top of the lower leg and continue upward toward your pelvis. The role of the hamstrings is to bend your knee and help move your knee backward. The hamstring muscles also are involved in decelerating the leg swing forward during hip flexion (hip going forward). It is during the forward swing phase that the hamstrings are at a greater potential for injury.

The hamstrings also work as assisting muscles or synergists with the glutes to help drive the hips back through what is called hip extension. Notice in the picture the runner’s left leg is being pulled toward the back. That is the hip extension action we are talking about.

Hamstring Injury Prevention and Strengthening- It is important in any strength training program to have a balance. So when training the hamstrings we want to have a balance as well. That means here that we want exercises that train both the concentric (the raising portion of the movement), and the eccentric portion of the movement (which is the lowering portion of the movement).

Please watch the videos I have added below for some examples of each type of exercise focus.

Exercises- Please watch the videos I have added below for some examples of each type of exercise focus. While each of them use all of the muscle actions each one does have a bit more focus on a certain movement.

The first video is the Hex bar deadlift which is a great example of a concentric movement. The second video can be used as a warmup or incorporated into a strength training program. The glute/ham raise in the third video is a great example of an eccentric hamstring exercise.

Hex bar deadlift video


Follow Up- I would like to wrap up with some stats from the study. A male athlete is 19.3% likely to injure a hamstring, and a female athlete is 13.5% likely. Males and specifically older males are more likely to injure the hamstring muscle. Based on the research it makes sense to find the time to incorporate strengthening and injury prevention exercises to allow you to participate at the highest level you can. While we do not always have time to add in every exercise we sure do not have the time be injured either. Always be sure to add in some prehab or injury prevention exercises into your existing strength training.

Time for that