Your weak hip muscles are costing you running efficiency
Judging by the number of other runners who ask me what I am doing, it's apparent that warming up, warming down and stretching our hip flexors is a bit of a lost art. That's unfortunate, and not just for runners.
I do a simple couple of hip flexor warm-ups and warm-downs, which I recommend for all runners. It's attention to these kinds of movements that has enabled me to run every day ~5km for nearly 300 days injury-free.
Hip mobility is essential for everyone and runners in particular. (When running we use our hip flexors, especially the iliopsoas, to lift the leg with each stride.) With running, hip flexors can suffer from muscle weakness and muscle tightness, causing tenderness and pain.
I replaced three warm-up movements with this one
I'm a stickler for warming up - I never miss. But I begrudge the time it takes. This one dynamic stretch saves me time and is more effective - that makes me feel better right from the start.
Whether I'm running, or in pre-COVID times when I used to go to the gym, I always warm-up. It takes me about 10 minutes before running, and 15 minutes before gym work. I believe that warming-up and warming-down helps keep me injury free.
Over 20+ years, I rarely see people warm-up outside of a class. That's because it's a bit boring.
Ideally, we want to eliminate those warm-up movements of little benefit and reduce the time needed. This dynamic stretch does that. It cut about two minutes from my warm-up time.
You can start with one round
If you had to choose just one at-home exercise - using no weights and no equipment - for both cardio and strength, which one would you choose?
I must admit, I took a while to agree with myself that it would be burpees. I was hesitant because most people hate burpees.
That's half-true at least. There's always the "I did 100 burpees a day" brigade, which makes it seem not so bad.
But there's a catch. It depends on your outlook. My outlook is always to get the best Return On Exercise.
How to lower your body age
I train to lower my body age because at 72 I don't have much more time left to age! At the gym, I observe many over 50s who should be doing the same, but instead, they are doing things that will make them older.
One reason is that they don't know what else to do. Another is that they believe the myths perpetuated by the bro culture - and the young trainers.
I've been successful in lowering my body age substantially.
How bored are you with your "leg-day, chest-day, arm day" gym routine?
If you are looking for something that will get you better results and be more satisfying, then I have good news for you.
Stop now, and you'll be better off.
Training splits, the "leg-day/chest-day/arm-day" guff are just figments of the bro-culture. If you're under 40 no harm done - you'll look good in a t-shirt following any strength-training regime.
If you are over 50, then it's time to stop and think seriously about your training objectives.
Hurting your back is traumatic - physically and mentally
When it happened to me it was like a bolt of lightning striking my lower back. In the midst of some intensive exercise I stopped, ironically, to move a small dumbbell away from my feet to avoid the possibly of tripping on it. I leant over, reached down, and almost at the point of giving it a gentle flick to the right with my fingers a shrieking pain immobilised me.
I was both dumbfounded and in agony. Putting weight on my left leg hurt, and even standing up straight hurt. My mind was racing.
Your're only as strong as your back.
One of my instructors was fond of saying "you're only as strong as your back", and my back felt like it was permanently out of action. Was I ever going to be able to exercise again? Was this going to be what life was like for the rest of my life? Had I pinched a nerve, would it always hurt? I was now sweating more from fear than from pain!
As good - if not better - than cardio
From what I see around me, it seems that the older we get the more we become wary of strength training. We start to believe that it will do us more harm than good, or that we will injure ourselves.
That’s not the case. You don’t have to start with heavy weights to do strength training.
I’ve been strength training for the last twenty years. I will be 72 this year. I’ve learnt a lot about what to do, what not to do, what is sustainable and how to get the best value for your effort.
My four principles below will give you a great head start to building fit-for-purpose strength. A strength which is fit for living longer better — intended for men and women 50 and over.
This is my experience in the broad topic of “strength training” (as compared to weightlifting or powerlifting which as are specific forms of strength training) which has served me well.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter