A strong upper body to sprint

Running is one of my favorite tools to relieve stress and do cardio. 

What I prefer the most is to do sprints. It reminds me when I was a kid racing my cousins. And I can really let go all the stress of my day. 

With the strong heat in Miami I don’t always get to enjoy doing it outdoor: it’s too hot, it’s more a torture than a nice moment.

So when I can’t handle the heat, I just run intervals on the treadmill at the gym (more boring you die). 

I have been looking for exercises to improve the strength in my legs and flexibility in my hips to run better. And apparently, the exercises that I do to work on my upper body are also going to help me sprint better and faster.

Why is that ? 

Because when you sprint, it’s crucial that you push the harder that you can. If you have strong shoulders and biceps you will be able to do so. What is also important is to improve the coordination between the arms and the legs. 

If you train for a marathon it’s not really the goal to work on stronger/bigger arms: it will just add more weight to carry on for you.

When you run, be careful with the position of your arms:

  • Keep the elbows at a 90° angle
  • The arms are parallel to the floor and don’t cross each other
  • The hands are relaxed, palms turned inside
  • Push your elbows to the back

In addition, it’s crucial to have a strong core to run because it helps stabilize the all body and maintain a good energy transfer to the legs (which are doing most of the job here). When you have a good posture, you save energy, run faster and can protect your spine by reducing the impact of the running on it. 

10 exercises to improve your upper body to sprint:

  1. Pull ups (basic ones, isometric or with negative contraction)
  2. Biceps flexion with a resistance band
  3. Narrow push-ups
  4. Bench dips
  5. Lunges with upper body rotation
  6. Side planks (basic, up the leg, knee to elbow)
  7. Bridge with up knee
  8. High plank with tap on shoulders
  9. Superman plank
  10. Quadruped trunk rotation 

As I always say, planking is THE best exercise to strengthen your core. You can do it everywhere with no equipment and there are so many variations that you can always find a way to get it harder. 

Try to use one of these exercises and see if you feel an improvement in your sprints.

I am a beginner… where do I start?

I train a lot because I love it, it relaxes me, and I want my body to be functioning properly until I die. Yes, we don’t think about it enough but this body you have is going to be yours to the grave so you might want to keep it healthy.

For a lot of reasons, many people don’t work out, they don’t even move enough during the day (thank you, sedentary lifestyle). I can only imagine how hard it is to look at the magazines and social media with crazy physiques people and athletes and think only “pfff why bother”.

Well first of all, you need to think about your health. I am sure you want to be able to move properly and not have pain everywhere in a couple of years. Working out is not about having abs but more importantly a strong muscle and bones structure, strength and mobility.

Take this as an investment in yourself. You do it for you and your well-being. You deserve it and you are worth it. At the beginning you will need a few minutes to start working out and two weeks to get used to it.

So, what’s in it for you:

  • Decrease of the risks of getting chronic diseases
  • Improvement of your mood and mental health
  • Increase of your daily energy, sleep quality and LIBIDO
  • Slowing of the aging process, boost of your cerebral activity and improvement of your microbiome

The frequency:

  • Strength training: at least twice a week, weightlifting for the biggest muscular groups
  • Cardio: 75 minutes of intense cardio activity (you do them the way you want) combined with 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity

My personal recommendation with the cardio: doesn’t start too hard too long on your first trials or you will just get sick.

Start for example with 20 minutes of HIIT running or on a bike or 15 minutes of a jumping rope.

  • Flexibility and mobility: we don’t mention these enough, but this is extremely important for your daily comfort. These are exercises just with your body that you can do in the morning and at night in front of TV.

I use a lot of yoga, stretching moves and animal flows (thanks Youtube).

I am sure your first question will be “what’s the better way to lose weight?”. When you are a beginner any kind of exercise is good so pick what’s the easiest for you and stick to it. There is always room to make things longer and more complicated after.

What you really need to do to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit (eat less than you consume). Health is in the kitchen first so you might want to start with a journal of all what you eat in a day to realize what is your real food intake and then make the adjustments.

Another personal advice (yes, I have a lot): give yourself a goal that you can actually reach! Most of the time we fail to maintain our routine and stick to it because we want to do too much too fast. If you never exercised and want to train for a hall marathon you are going to be so disgusted that you will probably never run again.

So, find something that you really want and can do (walk 15 minutes per day or just have more energy to play with your kids at the end of the day).

Once you start, just focus on what your trainings are for the week and keep track of what you do! Use an app or just wright down what you did this week so you can actually see your progress.

The next week you try to push a little harder and make it better.

The success is to be able to find a routine that you will actually keep doing and not give up after a couple of weeks because it’s too demanding.

Very important point you have to keep in my mind (I say that and it’s ironic because I am bad at it): be patient. You are going to fail, feel bad, want to quiet, some exercises are going to feel harder than you expected, you are going to skip trainings or have bad ones. It’s inevitable and you have to accept it.

The key is to have a plan B for each situation so you are prepared and can move on:

  1. If you are already tired when you wake up then don’t work out, have good healthy food during your day and just go for a walk in the nature at the end of the day.
  2. You feel too stressed or unmotivated? Just rest and have a good night sleep.
  3. You didn’t train for a couple of days/weeks? Find out the why and what strategies you can put in place.

Before starting your new training routine, you better want to see your doctor if it’s been a while, just to check if everything is alright.

Again, don’t beat up yourself or you won’t last and don’t give up either when you are sored (it means you are doing well).

If you can I recommend that you hire a trainer but if you can’t, PLEASE try to educate yourself with free videos on Youtube about the proper execution of the movements you need to do. It’s unpleasant to get hurt just after getting started.

Let’s get started and share your first experience !

Running with the heat

I know what I speak of !

I used to run a lot when I lived in Spain, I tought it was the hardest thing to do… before I moved to Miami !

Now I can say running in Miami is the hardest kind of running I ever had to do. Especially during the summer, the heat and the humidity are brutal. Just to walk 12 minutes to my supermarket gets me super sweaty.

I tried several hours to run aside the beach, what works better for me it’s really early in the morning or really late at night. The temperature doesn’t really go down but at least the sun is beating less !

Usually I go really early in the morning and I hold on for maximum 25 minutes.

It’s the best I can do with this heat and I am proud of it !

First you have to know why it’s « technically » harder to run when it’s more than 30° outside : you are basically asking your body to do an « extra » work than usual and it’s a pressure on the cardio-vascular system. The more it is hot outside the more you body temperature is going to rise : you pulse is going to over the top and you are going to break a big sweat.

Here are some tips to make it easier for you :

  1. The first days you are trying this, go slowly and don’t try to run 5 kilometers or during an hour straight ! Go step by step and increase the intensity a little every day.
  2. Watch your heart pulse. It’s naturally higher when it’s hot and you are not working out. So once again, the first times you are running, keep an eye on it and if you feel your pulse is going way too fast, slow down and walk.
  3. As I mentionned it, run early in the morning or later at night. It’s a little bit like when you want to get tanned : not between 10 am and 4 pm. It’s the worst time to do it, it’s too hot, you are going to damage more your skin, your eyes, your cardio-vascular system… and not enjoy the run at all.
  4. Adapt your run : if you are used to run on a certain road, try to find one with more shadow and wind, close to a river or the sea. Don’tgo for a big hill with nothing around. You will get less bored ! And if the heat is really too strong, you can go to your gym and run some HIIT on the treadmill.
  5. Pick the right equipment : I know we all want to look sexy when we work out now. But maybe this lycra tight crop top is not the best option to run outside. Pick up larger coton clothes with clear colors so it doesn’t attract the sun. Pick a hat and good sunglasses.
  6. Talking previously about tanning : I am going to talk like my mom but put your sunscreen before you leave home ! I saw there are a lot of creams for runners now, they will protect you even if you sweat !
  7. When you run and it’s hot, the body sweat to try to reduce its temperature so you lose a lot of good minerals like magnesium and iron. To prevent this loss DRINK WATER, before and during your run ; slowly with small slawlows. Don’t forget to drink also the rest of the day ; hydration is something we miss a lot. Diversify your intake with tea or fruits juices.
  8. Even if you are not running you should always watch your hydratation and the balance of your nutrients. When you work out, don’t forget your snacks : bananas, apricots or oats snacks.
  9. You really wanted to try, you have been running for a couple of minutes, your head hurt, you feel dizzy and your mouth is dry ? Stop it and leave it fo another day. There is no need to hurt yourself. Give yourself a rest and if you really want to work out, go to a local gym with air conditioning or to swim !
  10. Latest and obvious point : if running with the heat is really not your thing then grab a bike or go a class ! Don’t get stuck in something that is not working for you. You have to enjoy it otherwise you will give up. There are many options to exercise alone or with people !

Feel free to share any other tips or experiences!