I promised some blogs on staying active, and I hope you’re ready, because they’re about to start coming, full force. Two days ago, I ran my first three-miler since before pregnancy. I am not a runner by trade. In fact, I generally despise running. But, the Army loves running, therefore, I must run. The three mile route on post is very hilly, but I found my stride and hung with it. One good thing about having achieved a running ability prior is that even after such a long time off, I was able to find my stride and concentrate on exhalation so that my breathing remained steady. For those of you who think running sucks–it’s all about the exhale. Inspiration comes naturally–it’s forcing yourself to slow down your exhale that helps develop the cardio ability. But, more on that later. By the time I reached the halfway point, I was feeling a strong burn in my quads and considering slowing to a walk. On a ‘long’ run, though, you have to push through it–it’s a mental block that you have to overcome. I say ‘long,’ because three miles isn’t technically a long run…unless you’re a sprinter! At the end of the run, though, I realized I’d averaged a 10 minute mile pace–not bad! Good tunes are an absolute must for motivation; try adding these to your playlist: Adele, Rolling in the Deep; Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta Feeling; Foo Fighters, Monkey Wrench; and David Guetta, Memories, for a start.
This afternoon I’m headed to the gym for an upper body weight-lifting workout: dips, skull crushers, kickbacks, straight bar curls, and hammer curls.
So what did I do yesterday? I had an excellent riding lesson. For all the folks who say horseback riding shouldn’t count as exercise, take a dressage lesson. Granted, it’s not an aerobic workout, but for a good all-over strengthening workout, it’s about as good as swimming. And, if you ride correctly, it’s the best thing for back pain. After my ride, I realized for the first time in weeks that my back wasn’t hurting! Here is a short list of the benefits of riding:
1. It’s core-strengthening: when riding correctly, you use your core muscles (read, ABDOMINALS!) to stabilize your upper body and hold your position correctly.
2) It improves your posture: in addition to strengthening your core, which is most important for posture, you must also keep your center of gravity aligned–head over shoulders over hips over ankles, and keep that chest open!
3) It relaxes your lower back and pelvis: to flow with the horse, you absolutely must relax into the saddle with your lower body. This lower body movement is why horseback riding is so great for hippotherapy.