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.

Why you should eat protein

It doesn’t matter if you are an omnivore, a vegan or a selective vegetarian, you have probably heard lately that proteins are important. Even more if you are practicing sport at a regular level.

Before telling you the benefits of eating proteins, maybe we should back up a little bit.

Proteins are essential for your body for various reasons:

  • The synthesis of the muscles
  • The defense of the organism (with the production of antibodies)
  • The transport of various elements in the blood

How does it work? When you eat a protein, your body transform them in amino acids, little chemical elements, who will turn themselves … in protein again.   

The first benefit that you have when you eat one is, they provide you the sensation of being full. Eat enough protein and you won’t be snacking shit. Or less, at least.

I am not a nutritionist so I am not going to provide you a complete meal plan. But according to my experience it’s kind of easy to have a bit of protein at every meal:

  • I have eggs at breakfast
  • I eat chicken or turkey at lunch
  • My protein shake is in my gym back as a post workout
  • I have fish at dinner

We all have different needs and tastes but what’s important to know is that there is protein in not only meats but also cereals like quinoa, rice, milk, yogurt and cheese. So, you really have a lot of different options at your disposition.

What also works or me when I am hungry between meals is to have a snack with protein on it, like a Greek yogurt.  

We tend to have the majority of our protein intake by the end of the day but it’s not ideal. As we said before, protein is a source of energy so it’s better to have them along the day.

Bon appétit

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!

My “sports” practice

When I was a teenager I was really not good at any sort of physical activity and I hated it. My parents made me practice music and dance, but sports, nope. When I was in school I was avoiding as much as I could exercise: I was feeling stupid, clumsy and didn’t wanted to sweat. I started to swim by myself when I was 17 because I didn’t like any other physical activity and being in the water is one the things I enjoy the most in my life.

In London the swimming pool was expensive and far from home, so I started running in the park next door because it was free. It took me 6 months to start to enjoy it. The first times I ran, I was with my ex-boyfriend and I cried, I swear I cried because it was so hard, and I was feeling ashamed of my level. It’s been a pain in the ass process but without more money on my account I had to get better at it.

Which led me in a year to run between 8 and 10 kilometers per day, 6 times a week when I was in Spain. I also bought a bycicle home to do some cycling in front of the tv and started a Pilates class twice a week.

I learned a lot about the resistance abilities of my body but in a stupid way and for stupid reasons. I also hurt myself a lot, had no idea about the importance of rest and recovery.

When I got back to France, I had to slow down the intensity and amounts of my workouts. The purpose was to gain weight progressively but most importantly to learn how to enjoy exercize and not use it as a punishment to myself.

I started to go to the swimming pool again, run less and started some indoor fitness group classes.

The gym was a weird and scary place to me. I felt I was the only one not knowing how to use the machines and why. With time and experience I have come to learn that most of the people that go to the gym don’t know what they are doing.

I didn’t like the group classes, so I hired a trainer and asked for a personal training combining weights, machines and bodyweight exercises. After a year, I decided to change of gym: the atmosphere and the team are really important when you choose a place to exercise. I needed a place with people more focused on their training.

In the new gym I spend more than a year before going to Canada I have learned so many things about fitness. Good and bad. How you can start with good intentions and end up hurting yourself for a « perfect » reflection in the mirror. How you are supposed to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t balance your life, focus only on the gym, your look.

In this gym I have met incredible athletes, with knowledge, work ethic. I have also met frauds, with empty heads because there were too busy taking care of their biceps to read a book once in a while. I met people, trainers and members, who would spend all their money, time and energy on drugs to look a certain way but then would say « I am healthy, I eat vegetables and chicken and only drink water ». I met men and women scarifying their health in the medium and long term to win a trophy.

It’s interesting to look back because it was not a long time ago, but fitness and bodybuilding had already reached an incredible impact on the population, and not only my generation.

Nowadays it is a huge industry, making millions per year and everybody as a reason to go to the gym, even the people that would laugh about it a couple of years ago.

Of course, there are all kinds of people with different tastes for sport, but I am pretty sure almost the majority of our generation has at least, tried it.

Aaaah fitness, the shaped oiled bodies, sponsored products and “athletes” getting out of nowhere with incredible one or two-year body transformation. I felt deep in the trend: kicking my butt in the gym, trying to calculate my macros (even if it was counter-productive for my anorexia recovery), following fitness gurus, going to the Paris Body Fitness Salon, surrounding myself with gym people who could only talk about their diet and their previous/current/next workout …

I got even so passionate and interested that I studied at home, got a personal trainer certification and when I arrived in Montreal, I worked as a personal trainer in a gym for a couple of months.

I can now say after almost three years of practice that my approach is really different.

When I first went to a gym it was to recover anorexia, try to gain some muscle and mobility back. Then, slowly, with the results coming in, I started again to be obsessed with my body image but this time, I wanted to look like a fitness model, without fat and a shredded body all year around. Well, not everybody can do that, in a couple of a month and for a life time period.

First of all, it was really dangerous for me according to my previous and not so old illness. And second, it is very stupid to put all your energy JUST in the way you look.

I started to feel depress again because despite my efforts, my body wasn’t like I wanted too.

Getting obsessed with fitness took me in the same place I had left when I was anorexic: unhappy with my body, obsessed with my body image, dysmorphia syndrome and with social and family life damages. Because let’s be honest, whatever your passion is, fitness or cars or specific collections, it is very time-confusing of the rest of your life.

You focus all your time, energy and money on this passion and it has consequences. With fitness it can quickly kill your social life: you don’t eat out, don’t drink alcohol, have to sleep at least 8 hours and you have to spend countless hours in the gym instead of doing anything else.

It took me a couple of months to understand that what I wanted of my body AND the life I wanted wasn’t compatible 100 %.

Yes, I want to have the most beautiful body as I can. But I also want to spend time stimulating my mind with expositions, movies, readings, expositions. I want to spend time with my close friends and the members of my family and don’t say no to a restaurant once in a while for the scale. Once the persons you love are gone, you can’t do anything to have them back.