Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Recently, people have been asking me about the importance of stretching as part of their workout regimes.  Stretching is often ignored, when it should be placed on the top of your list of workout routine Most people lead sedentary lifestyles.  That’s even true in NYC, where often your mode of transportation is your legs, because many of us spend the day at a desk, hunched over a computer.  This can cause muscle imbalances, which leads to a compromised posture.When your posture is compromised, movement in both daily life and in exercise can lead to injury, because your body isn't in optimal alignment. Common postural distortions include: “rounding” and elevation of the shoulders protrusion of the head, and the tightening of the hips, as the glutes (butt muscles) become weak. Proper flexibility training can help eliminate these distortions.  Today, we're going to learn about the 3 different types of flexibility training. :-)

Corrective flexibility is specifically designed to improve muscle imbalances. It includes self-myofascial Release (foam rolling, which I blogged about hereas well as static stretching.  (Static stretching is performed by holding a stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds.)  This will allow your muscle to relax and elongate.  You might want to do a light warm up by walking, elliptical training, biking or just moving the body through different ranges of motion for a few minutes before doing static stretching to get the blood flowing, but it's not necessary.  You can also do your foam rolling first and then move into static stretching.

Active flexibility is designed to improve the extensibility of soft tissue and increase the efficiency of your body movement.  Instead of static stretching, where you hold a stretch, with active stretching you move through ranges of motion For example, if you are bending down to touch your toes, bend your legs for a count of 2 and then straighten for a count of 2.  Repeat that 5-10 times.  The result here is that you are actively stretching and lengthening your muscles.

Functional Flexibility uses dynamic stretching to take your joints through a full range of motion. Examples include push-ups with rotation, single-leg squats, tube walking and squats.  This type of stretching is ideal for a pre-activity warm-up (i.e. if you are going for a jog in the park, do this type of stretching first).

The bottom line is, don't ignore your stretching routine!  Make it just as important as the actual exercise itself.  If you hate stretching (and even this blog entry isn't going to convince you to do it)then at the very least, foam roll.  It is a vital part to any exercise routine, and it will help you correct the muscle imbalances that are inhibiting your workout potential.  Stretch and Be Well!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Days and Bad Days

Everyone has good days and bad days – days when we feel up or down.  That goes for workouts as well.  I haven’t been running much since the NYC Half-Marathon, mainly because I was enjoying yoga, focusing on plyometric workouts, and in general just doing stuff my body had not experienced in a while. After a few weeks of running no more than 4 miles at a time, I was ready to for a longer distance and decided to take in a beautiful New York spring day and run the 6 mile loop in Central Park. 


This turned out to be a perfect example of a ‘down’ workout day for me – it was rough.  Though this was less than half the distance of the Half-Marathon, it felt harder than the 13.1 miles I ran just 3 weeks ago!  When you have runs like that, it helps to remind yourself that it just isn’t your day, but that you are still doing the work and benefitting your body.  There was a moment after mile 4 when I stopped to stretch and give myself a breather, and I really just wanted to stop for good, but I kept on keepin’ on and finished the run.  I didn’t finish strong by any means, but I felt proud that I didn’t quit or slow down, and also that I accomplished what I set out to do. 


This doesn’t mean that you should push through every bad workout.  If your body is really screaming at you to stop, you could be overtraining, overtired, or just need a day to do something more low key.  Maybe what’s called for is a nice stroll around your neighborhood or even a day to just sit and let your body recover from a crazy workout week.  Whatever it is, always listen to your body.  Yeah, my run was pretty uncomfy in parts yesterday, but I know what I am capable of and I knew that I could finish those 6 miles.  If you feel pain when and where you shouldn’t (maybe you pulled a muscle or otherwise injured yourself) then you should stop, but if you know your body can keep going, push yourself and see how far you can actually go.  Many times, your body is capable of going much further than you ever thought possible.  Just trust yourself and know that you can do it!  I believe in you!  Be Well!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yoga Time

One of the things that makes me happy (and there are many) about moving to my new apartment in the East Village is that my favorite yoga studio, Yoga to the People, is literally right around the corner.  When I lived in Washington Heights I didn’t take yoga enough because it took me forever to get to class. But now that this studio is a hop, skip, and a jump from my new digs, I won’t have an excuse!  Today I took a class for the first time in months and within the first 5 minutes, I knew that ‘Sore Sally Rado’ would be my new name for the next couple days.

Here’s why Yoga to the People is the place I dig the most: It’s a donation-based studio and has locations in NYC and California. The recommended donation is $10/class, but if you can’t afford the 10 smackers, just pay what you can – in no way can anyone complain they can’t afford this place.  But the downside to this is that the classes often are pretty packed, meaning you might be closer to someone’s ‘downward dog’ than you’d like.  Try to get cozy, though, because the studio is pretension-free and everyone is there to do yoga, not schmooze around or look cute in yoga pants.  It’s a place to work, have fun and let it all hang out!

The teachers at YTTP rock my socks and they always remind students that yoga is meant to be enjoyed. Yoga can be hard, especially when you are taking a Vinyasa Flow Class. In case you aren’t up on your yoga terms, Vinyasa yoga involves the teacher instructing you to move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale.  It can go very quickly and there isn’t a lot of time for rest, so it requires focus.  All classes at YTTP are flow classes and last 1 hour – many other studios host classes that last for an hour and a half.  I don’t know about you, but I’m busy – I love that I can get my yoga finished in just one hour.

The best thing about yoga (for me) is the mind/body connection.  I enjoy most types of exercise, but yoga is a step beyond.  It pushes me in a way that no other workout can, both mentally and physically.  You won’t know what I mean until you try it yourself.  If YTTP doesn’t sound like your thing or you don’t live close to a studio, find a place that works for you.  If you don’t live in NYC, check Yelp to find studios in your area.)  Also, try different types of yoga and see what you connect to most.  There’s Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Iyengar, Bikram, and probably more, but I’m just a ‘once in a while’ kinda yoga gal, so I’m not as up on my yoga as I could be.

What I do know is that if you haven’t taken yoga before, you should definitely give it a whirl.  I promise that while it will challenge you in ways that you didn’t know were possible, you will still leave feeling centered and calm.

On that note, Namaste and Be Well!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NYC Half-Marathon

The month of March was a busy one for me!  After getting my NASM re-certification out of the way, I had to really buckle down with my Half-Marathon training in the midst of trying to find a new apartment by April 1st (which is quite the feat in New York City…I didn’t actually secure a place until I had less than a week to go!).  The apartment search was pretty stressful, but luckily I had my runs to clear my head and keep me focused on something else.  13.1 miles of something else!

Last May, I ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon with one of my best friends, Melissa Salvatore.  As a recreational runner who would run AT MOST 6 miles (and that was a stretch before my training) at a time, I would have never thought running 13.1 miles a possibility for me. In January 2009, Melissa called me and said she wanted a friend to help to keep her motivated with her weight loss goals for her upcoming wedding.  She had visions of training for a 10k at first.  When I told her that would be just great for me since a 10k is just a little more than 6 miles, she changed her mind.  She said she wanted to do something that would be challenging for the both of us and suggested a Half-Marathon.  I kind of thought she was crazy at the time, but I accepted the challenge anyway and a couple of months later, we completed the race strong and proud of our accomplishment!

Here’s us before and after the Brooklyn Half:

Even though we finished strong, I thought that I probably didn’t need to do another Half again.  I accomplished it, done, over.  Then in about maybe November, my former roommate Andrea Schmidt mentioned that she wanted to sign up for the lottery for the first New York Half to be raced in March instead of in August.  When she was looking at the New York Road Runner’s website (www.nyrr.org), she described that the race would run around Central Park, down through Times Square, and end at the tip of Manhattan.  The race sounded so amazing.  To get to run through the streets of Times Square down Broadway  was just too cool for words, in my opinion.  I thought I would sign up for the lottery and if I got into the race, I would be destined to run the NYC Half.

I guess destiny was mine. I got in.  I couldn’t believe Andrea and I BOTH were picked since I knew of so many others that had not been!  This time around, I knew what to expect.  For the Brooklyn Half, I believe I might have over-trained by running almost every day. At the time, I was a bit nervous to run the distance and I wanted to make sure my body was completely prepared. This resulted in a a bit of fatigue in my legs and a few injuries here and there.  

This time, I took it easy, knowing I didn’t need to over do it.  I ran every other day and cross trained on my non-running days by weight training and stretching.  After being reminded of the importance of foam rolling in my re-certification workshop, I incorporated quite a bit of that corrective stretching as well.  Corrective stretching is so important when you’re running that much!  

The week before the race, I had a minor injury in my ankle that I believe was aggravated by trekking around NYC in ill-fitting boots while apartment hunting.  I was nervous that it would hinder me from running the race but luckily, after icing, not running 6 days prior to the race and wrapping it in an ACE bandage (see picture below…that’s an Ace Bandage, not a long sock),the swelling in my ankle went down and the race went off with out a hitch!  Here is Andrea and I (March 21st 2010) before the race at about 6:30 AM and before the sun had risen…

The weather could not have been any better with temperatures reaching 60 degrees accompanied by sunny skies.  There were bands playing, cheerleaders cheering, and family members/friends supporting on the sidelines as we ran one and a half times around Central Park, through Times Square, across 42nd street, and down the Hudson River to the lower part of Manhattan.  It was an amazing race in which I finished stronger than my last and I even felt as if I could have continued running past the 13.1 miles!  Here are Andrea and I post Half…We were so happy to have experienced the awesomeness that running through most of Manhattan (especially Times Square) brings.If you have any questions on how to train for a Half-Marathon, please don’t hesitate to ask!  For now, you can check out this website:


It’s a great outline for a 12 week training plan that I think will help any novice Half-Marathoner.  Don’t be scared to literally go the distance.  If I can do it, you can too! You have no idea what your body and mind are capable of achieving together.  If you believe in yourself, the accomplishment is yours.

Be well!