Put your right foot forward for 2016: Simple things
Happy New Year from the Natural Running Center. We hope you have achieved a goal and learned something new about how your mind and body works in 2015. Here are 10 simple and safe things to try in 2016 with the goal not to be more “fit” in the terms the fitness and medical industry want to impose on us, but rather with the goal to be a more biologically well human.
How do we define fitness and measure fitness goals in research and medicine? Here are a few:
-In the exercise lab we use an objective parameter of how many METs (metabolic equivalents) you can achieve before falling off the treadmill
-our fitness apps now display how many minutes of activity we getting a week and if we are meeting the 30 minute a day national goal
our garmin, fitbit, or step counter apps measures steps or miles
a yardstick may even be your 10k or half marathon time, even if you suffered pain or injury to achieve the time
While these tools measure how much or how fast we move, they do not measure how much of our body we move, are we doing it well, is it painful, and overall how is our energy.
What we also do not measure is what we are doing in the other minutes a day we are not exercising. So even if you run for 30 minutes there are 1410 other minutes in the day. In 2012 the New York Times introduced us to “The Active Couch Potato” phenomena (well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/meet-the-active-couch-potato/ ). Google this term now and your screen explodes with article. If this is you (be honest) get out of the trap and move more in our non-exercise time.
So for 2016 reset a few foundational things which are not difficult resolutions. By the end of the year or even with a month or two they will provide dividends which will make you want to continue them without needing to be “motivated”. Waking up and feeling good is an addiction and positive reinforcement in itself
1. Slow down. This is timeless advice from my friend and true Yoda of sport Dr. Phil Maffetone. So if you have not spent a month or two doing his “180 formula” now is the time. Trust me here, you may even race your best this winter while doing this low stress training. Moreover if you have run several hard fall races as I have (2 hard marathons and a 50 miler) the method will make sure you get a deep recovery and rebuild before spring racing. Here is a revision from Phil from his 1982 article which changed my life. philmaffetone.com/want-speed-slow-down/
2. Move more of your body. If you have a young child watch them move. They sit on the floor in multiple positions, squat for long periods, do overhead movements, and seem to flow from position to position with grace and ease. We are not designed to sit all day and as much as I recommend and use a stand up desk, standing in one position for hours is not ideal either. So mix it up. Walk, squat, lunge, reach, kneel, sit on floor, and vary your movement menu. Think of different positions as nutrients for your body. You need the macro and micro nutrients. Movement specialist Katy Bowman explains it well. nutritiousmovement.com/
3. Sprint a little. Yes sprint as if your life depended on it. Short sprints mixed into your easy running will do wonders for your strength, coordination, mobility, and boosts your metabolism. The older you are the more critical this is. I sprint 4-6 times 50-100 meters almost every day. When we does this we are doing dynamic stretching at its finest. Add skip drills too to mix it up. View what this is at our Healthy Running course site www.healthyrunning.org/videos.html .
4. Move Better. For the ultimate running movement fix to help you sprint and run like a gazelle find a TrueForm Runner. Running on the TrueForm is the “lie detector” for smooth and efficient running gait. We have one at Two Rivers Treads. Come to a Saturday clinic www.trueformrunning.com/naturalrunningcenter.com/2014/02/26/running-rhythm-balance-motorless-treadmill/
5. Rid yourself of processed food and sugared drinks. Myself and others have written extensively on this site and others about the perils of the SAD (Standard American Diet) especially if you are Insulin Resistant. Good news for 2016 is that we may even see national policy change. I am a proud member of the Nutrition Coalition www.nutrition-coalition.org/ that petitioned Congress to do a true scientific review of the guidelines, and amazingly Congress funded 1 million dollars to make this happen. Read about it here. www.dietdoctor.com/congress-demands-review-of-dga . I am grateful that the policies that affect 300 million Americans which have not undergone a scientific review in the 35 year existence of the Dietary Guidelines for America are finally getting a review. If you are going to make any resolution commit to reading Gary Taubes epic 2008 work “Good Calories Bad Calories”. In my opinion every human needs to read and understand the history of how we got here before making any opinion on nutrition. I’ve read it twice as well as have it on Audible.
6. Lift some heavy things. Keep this really simple too. My suggestion is keep few kettlebells in an easy to access place and actually lift them (not use as door stopper), a pull up bar in your garage entry way, and doing dynamics which involve some explosive strength like burpees. 5-10 minutes a few times a week is really all you need to maintain.
7. Play! Run and move with no outcomes attached, be in the moment, and add fartlek to your life . Here is a piece from a few years ago naturalrunningcenter.com/2012/03/24/nature-play-running-rebirth-fartlek/ .
8. Rest and recover. Make quality sleep a priority and maybe even dive into Heart Rate Variability through a simple app called SweetBeat HRV www.sweetwaterhrv.com/ . I’ve been playing with this for a few months and it is the “lie detector” for recovery and whether you honestly should do a goal oriented training session or just move and recover.
9. Go barefoot as often as possible. Just try it progressively over varied indoor and outdoor textures. The proprioceptors in your foot adjust mechanoreceptors throughout your body. Movement guru Dr. Kelly Starrett encourages “Barefoot Saturdays”. You will see me running barefoot in the winter as long as the sun has been up to warm the road. When I go too long without any barefoot running I get the little tweaks and aches we are all familiar with. Never wear shoes inside. Complementary to this is spending your work day in the most minimal lifestyle shoe you can get away with. Some of my favs are Lems, Vivobarefoot, and OESH.
10. Give back. Make a commitment to help give opportunities for children and/or adults to run as play. We are building school trails in our community and in the process of getting cross country approved in a neighboring county as a school sport. For a state like ours with low activity and high obesity a no cut sport like cross country is a low cost natural fit. Design a kid’s obstacle race if you can. We have done one here for 5 years. Help a couch to 5k, a community run club, or volunteer for an event. We have an amazing community group here called Bros and Bras www.brosandbrashq.com/
Extra credit: if all of this interests you join me at a Healthy Running Course . Many sites all over the US in 2016 www.healthyrunning.org/ . View the calendar for dates and locations. Use code NRC50 for 50 dollars off course fee.
So there you have it. 10 things for 2016 to put your Right Foot forward. You Left will naturally follow. Enjoy!