I can now nasal-breath for the first time ...
One hundred and thirty-eight days ago, on July 7th, 2020, our city went into a tight COVID lockdown. We were only allowed out for one hour daily (plus essential trips) and masks were compulsory.
If exercising, masks were optional. Since we propel massive volumes of moist air from our lungs when running past people, I chose to wear a mask. Today restrictions were lifted.
I trail run 5km daily, so that meant I ran 138 days with a mask.
It wasn't what I would call enjoyable, but it did have some benefits. Today, running without a mask for the first time since lock-down, I was able to sustain my pace just breathing through my nose - that's a first.
A little imagination helps ...
I trail run with injury-free at the top-of-mind, but I also enjoy challenging myself along the way. If I see someone 200m ahead, then it becomes my challenge to calculate a passing move.
That takes stamina.
You want to run at tempo pace to close the gap, pass strongly enough to discourage tailgating, and then settle back into a pace that keeps you moving ahead. What you don't want is to pass and then blow-up. This is where stamina comes in to play.
Mix and match during the week, or daily if you are a runner
We take our joints for granted until they're injured. None more so than our feet.
Our feet have 26 bones (25 percent of all bones in the human body are in the feet), 33 joints, and more than 80 tendons and ligaments. There are also 20 main muscles, each with different actions and jobs that help us walk, run, jump and stand.
These muscles can become weakened, tightened and inflamed just from our everyday activities. There is a lot that can go wrong - a lot of attached parts that can transmit stress through the entire foot and into our leg, hips and lower back.
That's why keeping our feet flexible and strong is worth a little extra effort. This effort not only helps reduce foot and ankle pain but also strengthen the tendons and improves our mobility and gait.
Not to mention the earthing benefits of bare feet
We take our feet for granted until they're injured. I persisted in running too many extra kilometres in my favourite running shoes until my feet told me to grade-up to new shoes.
As well as bringing out my new shoes, I decided to walk barefooted every day as a way of reconditioning my feet. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision, as I have now found out. You might like to give it a try.
When I decided to walk barefooted, I had no specific theory in mind. I just figured that having the bones, tendons and muscles of my feet moving across a natural surface - road, trail, and the beach in my case - would activate neuromuscular pathways that shoes don't.
My feet told me that they'd had enough
I have zero brand allegiance. I buy when a quality item is on special, including running shoes, irrespective of brand. But from the moment that I stood up in my Saucony Freedom ISO shoes (Black 8.0D) I knew that I could be a fanboy.
Just two years before, almost to the day, I hated running. You know, when you do a "power hour" and the instructor lines you up at the finish for the fireman's shuttle run. Hated it. Even just lining up for sprints across the room - not happy.
I could do it well. It was rare if I was not in a leading group. But I just wanted it to finish.
The gym went on a summer roster over Xmas (down under in Australia). Although classes were peripheral to how I trained at the gym, I liked to do one class each week for variety. I tried boxing classes and found them a waste of time. As there was nothing in the Xmas program that interested me, I decided to run, twice a week.
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.
Plus, fitness equals longer life no matter how overweight you are
[Copy of my weekly newsletter] If you're a pet lover then you'll be interested to know that your cat wants a bit more space - lockdown is cramping its style. On the other hand, your dog is loving the attention
Here are my 4 Most Valuable pieces of content from around the web, to help you live longer better:
⭑ When medicine fails your pain - try the mind-body connection
⭑ Walking is the best way to kick off your fitness
⭑ You're getting on your cat's nerves
⭑ A single-leg strength exercise that should be on your daily schedule
Do These To Walk Stronger And Live Longer
As we age, falling is one of the major causes of reduced lifespan, because of the terrible consequences of broken bones and broken spirits.
You may have had the distressing experience of witnessing a healthy older relative who fell, became inactive, and quickly deteriorated. That is why exercising - for all of strength, endurance and balance - is a key to living longer better.
The question is this: if you wish to focus specifically on more competent walking, which exercises and muscle groups should you give most attention?
I have an answer, based upon several related research studies.
The mother you save may be your own
Governments can't cover every loophole when they are enacting novel rules in rapid time. They're doing a great job getting things done, and they rely on cooperation instead of exploitation by we public.
However, some people love loopholes more than they love their mother, even though exercising without a mask might kill their mother - or someone else's mother.
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