Thursday, October 11, 2012

Charity Miles and Strength Training Mini-Workouts

As a part of my 8k training, today's "assignment" was a 2 mile run plus strength training.  For my run today, I decided to use my new app, Charity Miles.

Charity Miles is a really cool concept.  You open the app on your phone (iPhone or Android), select your charity of choice from the several options, and get moving!  Using the GPS feature on your phone, the app tracks your distance and then a contribution from a corporate sponsor is made to the charity you selected.  The charity receives $0.25 per mile walked/run and $0.10 per mile biked.  You just have to "advertise" your run via a post on Facebook in order for the charity to receive the contribution.  If you ask me, that's a small price to pay.  

I started my app during my warm-up and ended it after my cool-down (I really only ran 2.2 miles in 20:25... the rest was warm-up/cool-down).  Today, I chose to run on behalf of the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  My 2.636 miles led to an impact of 6.591 puppy and kitten vaccinations.  

Remember that whole discussion about how I respond to external motivation?  Well, this is another form of external motivation!  Who doesn't want to run an extra 0.1 mile to help the puppies and kittens?  If puppies and kittens aren't your thing (well, then you have no soul), you can choose another charity.  There's something for everyone.  I'll probably choose a different charity next time.  The current charity options include Every Mother Counts, Autism Speaks, Feeding America, The Nature Conservancy, Pencils of Promise, World Food Programme, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Habitat for Humanity, Achilles International, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The app also has an explanation of each charity.  Does anyone else use this app?

After my run, I did a strength workout, a series of 3 mini-workouts that each targeted a different group of muscles.  I started with the large muscle groups (back, hamstrings, quads) because this is the best way to ensure your body is warmed up before beginning the smaller muscle groups.  I made sure to stretch the muscle groups after each mini-workout.    

I used 50 lbs total for the deadlifts, 30 lbs total for the squats, and 15 lbs each hand for bicep curls and shoulder presses.  I did squats with my feet parallel and hip-width apart, making sure to press my butt backwards and keeping the weight on my heels so that my knees did not extend past my toes (to avoid knee injury).  See an image of the squats here.    

Below is an explanation of a few of the exercises:

Hamstring Curls with a Stability Ball: Lie on back with ball placed under heels of feet.  Lift hips off ground and hold up towards sky as high as possible.  Keep hips raised and curl hamstrings, pulling the ball with your heels towards your butt.  Keep hips raised and let legs extend back out.  That is 1 rep.  See an image of the move from Prevention Magazine here

Crunch on a Stability Ball: Lie with your lower back on a stability ball and your feet resting on a wall in front of you.  Keep your feet in place as you crunch your chest up.  You can find an image of this exercise from Women's Health Magazine here.  I did not incorporate the twist this time; I just crunched straight up.  This exercise works more of the lower abs than the traditional stability ball crunch (feet flat on ground). 

Stability Ball Pike-Ups: Assume a plank position with the stability ball under your feet.  Lift your hips towards the air to form a pike position, allowing the ball to roll forward as your feet move.  Extend back to a plank position.  That is 1 rep.  See Women Health Magazine's description (with pictures) here.   

Side Plank Hip Taps: Assume a side plank position on your elbow (both legs straight, no knees resting on the ground).  Put your top hand on your hip.  Dip your hip to tap the ground and crunch back to a normal side plank position.  That is 1 rep.  This exercise targets your obliques.

This workout is not as intense as my 20 minute total body circuit, and perhaps not as efficient as my 13 exercises condensed to 5 but it got the job done.  Since I am now focusing on running (training for my 8k), I wanted a total body routine that would not make me overly sore, and I was already a bit burned out from my run beforehand, so I developed today's routine.  I think it's just what I was looking for.  Let me know what you think!

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