I asked my sister, Marissa, if she’d want to write a blog post and she said yes! She’s actually really excited about it.
Fun facts about Ris
• She’s majoring in Public Health and minoring in Public Relations & Public Policy at UNC
• She’s in the process of becoming certified to be a group fitness instructor
• She’s actually the one who encouraged me to start a blog in the first place
• I like dark chocolate (don’t we all?), but this girl likes DARK chocolate. As in, 100% unsweetened baking chocolate, straight-up. The one time I tried it, I started gagging, spit it out, and then ate a bowl of ice cream. That’ll teach me to stay away from her chocolate stash
I’m so excited to be writing my first blog post today! When Liv asked me to write a guest post, several possible topics came to mind. Like Liv, I absolutely love running and eating healthy as a college student. However, a topic that really stood out to me was the importance of cross training/strength training.
You see, back in October, I injured my knee while training for my first half marathon (the doctors still don’t know exactly what the problem is, but their guess is that it was a combination of patella tendinitis + overall inflammation + weakness in the bone and muscle). Basically, I was pushing 45+ miles a week, and the doctors said my body and muscles just couldn’t handle that kind of stress.
But let me back up first….I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. I ran my first track meet in 3rd grade, and I trained for my first road race around the same time. I honestly can’t imagine my life without running. In high school, I ran track and cross country all four years and loved it.
I thought about running in college at a smaller school, but ended up deciding to prioritize my studies instead (you can’t have it all…). However, as a college student, I would still run 6 days a week for at least 5 miles each day.
Everyone’s bodies can handle mileage a little differently, but I’ve learned that if you’re going to run more than 10 or so miles a week, it is crucial to balance it with strength training, yoga, or other strength/balance exercises.
It is rare to hear of serious runners who don’t frequently get injured because it’s almost impossible to keep up high mileage for a long time without some type of injury. If you’re not willing to give up mileage, consider adding in exercises such as yoga after your runs a couple days a week.
Also, I’ve grown to love strength training! It is so important to build strong muscles as a runner to prevent injury. It can be as easy as going to the gym for 20 minutes after a run to lift weights. Or if you’re like me and don’t have time to get to the gym, think about doing things like planks or squats in your room. You can also buy lightweight dumbbells to focus on arms, calves, etc. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money to incorporate strength training into your weekly workouts!
Finally, a piece of personal advice: after my injury, I’ve realized I can’t run 6 days a week anymore. Instead, I need to do more cross training. I plan to run 2-3 days a week, then swim, bike, do the elliptical, etc. for the remaining days (and of course make sure I always have at least one rest day).
Scientifically, our bodies really weren’t created to only run all the time! Exercise is super healthy, but we need to treat our bodies well (the stress running puts on our bodies often isn’t promoting this kind of healthiness!). I want to be a lifetime runner, so I have to take care of my body now.
Similarly, if you’re the kind of person who just likes doing the elliptical every day, consider trying other types of exercise. When you do the same motions every day, your body gets used to it, and the workout becomes less effective (or in the case of really intense exercises, too stressful for your body). So go to a fitness class at the gym, focus on strength training, try the bike…the options are endless!
What do you think? How much running can your body handle? Did you do sports in high school?