The other night it was already 7:00 p.m. and my will power for lacing up my running shoes to step outside was close to zero percent. Possibly even less than that. But I knew that once I’d warmed up I’d be fine… or at least I hoped. When I have to run at night I go to a park in the center of our city. It feels comfortable to run there because it’s always super crowded with other runners like myself. It’s well lit so you can see where you’re going, perfect for doing any kind of drill. But that night a curious thing happened. While I was in the middle of my warm up my vision got blurry. I stopped to remove whatever was hanging off my eyelashes and found little pieces of ice. I walked back home and looked up the weather forecast: sleet, rain and plunging temperatures. With the flu viruses rampant this season I decided not to risk it. I planned a week of alternative movement until the weather improved next week.
Most runners will go outside no matter what. They don’t want to stop running for fear that they’ll lose whatever fitness they’ve attained. But if you build a simple circuit of exercises your running will actually benefit from it more than slugging out a few miles in the snow. Here’s how to do it: - Warm up with 15 minutes of walking or running in place, spin bike or an exercise bike if you happen to have one at home. Choose three or four of the exercises below. If it's your first time doing circuit training (or you never have) Start with just three series. If you decide to continue in the coming weeks, you can increase by one series each week.
- Jump Rope - is an excellent coordination exercise, as well as being useful for strengthening your feet and ankles. A first goal is to get to 50 jumps in a row. Remember that the rhythm of your rope is controlled by your wrists.
- Squat Jump - Position yourself with your legs slightly divaricated, then bend your knees as and go down to a squatted position. Jump straight up vertically, using your arms to push yourself up. If you can do five in a row you’ve already won!
- Lunges - In a standing position take an ample step forward with one foot and lower yourself down with the front leg. Your back should be straight while paying attention that you form a right angle between the quadriceps and the calf. Your knee shouldn’t surpass your foot. Beginners can push back with the same foot to return to the starting point while experts can to take a quick step forward. Repeat the same movement with the other leg. Perform five per leg for a total of ten lunges.
- Squats - Your starting position is standing straight with your legs slight divaricated. Look forward and place your hands on your hips or out in front of you to help you balance. Beginners can put a chair behind them to help them out. Bend your knees and lower your hips until you feel your behind touch the chair. Straighten your knees, returning to the starting position. Expert runners can do a full squat with lower your hips almost to the floor. In either case start with ten squats and increase over time.
- Step - The height of your step is important for this exercise. It needs to be stable enough to hold your weight and not so high that you can’t comfortably step up. A starting base of 20 centimetres would be good. Experts can go to 30 centimetres. With your hands on your hips, step up onto the step, chair or bench. Return to the floor with the same leg or alternate them throughout the exercise. Start with ten steps per leg.
- Push ups for arms and shoulders - Do feel like you have to do push ups like a Marines Corp officer on day one. Beginners can start by leaning forward at an angle against a wall. The next step is on the floor but on your knees. When you’ve successfully done at least ten push ups on your knees you can move on to the classic position in a horizontal position on your toes. Decide the number according to your experience and natural strength. Men will have an easier time here!
- Plank - Place your knees on a carpet with your elbows on the ground and your forearms stretched out in front of you. Stretch your legs out behind and prop yourself up on your toes. At the same time lift your pelvis and maintain your back flat (like a plank) and parallel to the floor. Tighten your glutes and stay in position, counting how many seconds you’re able to stay in position. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to improve!