A lot of people think that if they can't do a particular exercise it must be because they are not strong enough. Perhaps. I mean, I know I can't do 100 pound shoulder presses.  In no way am I strong enough. But when it comes to more functional movements, that is moving the way your body was meant to move, often times we have the strength, but we don't have the mobility.  

Think of how much time we spend moving our body in a straight line. There isn't a lot of side-to-side or rotational movement. We keep our body set - for the most part - in one plane. Our body is meant to move forward, backward, side-to-side, up and down and in rotation. Kids are great at this. They climb, roll, jump and generally get different types of movements they adults.

Move It or Lose It
The adage move it or lose it is so very true. If we don't move our joints in the ways they're capable of moving, they'll seize up. When they seize up, we feel tight and stiff. Shoulders, hips and backs are notoriously tight on a great many people. When we feel tight, we move those areas less. When we move those areas less, the muscles and ligaments surrounding them tend to weaken. After they weaken, that particular part of our body becomes compromised and is prone to injury.

Runners who do nothing for a workout other than run forward and do movements that reinforce this motion are often prone to problems - which commonly originates in the ankles or hips - two really important joints that help us move. If we develop knee pain as a result of running or improper training, it's often felt in the knee, shin, calf, outer thigh or foot. Strengthening the joints that help those parts of the body move better can help prevent this. Moving the hips and ankles in preparation for running can help this tremendously.

Prep Exercises
Before each and every workout I do for this 5K training program, I spend about 20 minutes doing various movements and drills that help prepare my body for the run I'm about to do. I've referenced "Warm Up" or "Drills and Movements" at the beginning of every workout and mentioned a few of them, but here are a few hip and back-specific movements that might make your next workout a little more effective...and easier.

Hip Drivers
Stand with your feet about one foot apart. Raise one or both hands above your head. Start by doing a slight side bend, pushing one hip out to the side. Come back to standing and drive your hip out in the opposite direction. Repeat this swaying motion emphasizing on pushing your hips out to the side. Building from small to large movements is perfecting fine. Continue these hip drivers for about one minute.

Planked Hip Drops
(I totally made the name of this exercise up. My husband (aka coach) showed it to  me. It could very well have a much different fancy-pants name. I have no idea what it is. Here is the description.)

This exercise takes some decent upper body and core strength, so you may need to start small and work your way up. That said, of all the exercises I do, this is - by far - the most effective movement. Start in a straight-arm plank position. Take your right leg and swing it under your body and out past your left leg. Right now your legs should be straight, but crossed over. Without bending your arms too much, drop your right hip down and then up again. Continue this movement about 15 times. Repeat the opposite side. Rest for a moment.

Now go back to your straight arm plank position and bring your right leg as far out to the right side as possible. Your legs should be in a wide V-position. Focus on dropping your left  hip. Continue this up and down movement about 15 times. Repeat the opposite side.

Downward Facing Dog
Yoga is always a great resource for movements that can keep the body moving right, and downward facing dog is one of them. Start lying face down on the ground, or in a straight arm plank position. Hands should be under your shoulders. Root your finger tips into the ground. Without moving your feet or hands, pike your hips up as high as possible and allow your head to hand in between your shoulders. Continue rooting your fingers down. Also try to get your heels as close to the ground as possible. I like to think of pulling my shoulder blades as close as possible together. This takes a lot of pressure out of my shoulders. Hold this position for 30+ seconds.

Lunge with Rotation
Without using any weight at all, walk out into a lunge position with your arms extended straight out in front of your chest. Rotate your upper body, twisting through the spine, to the side of your lead leg. Make sure your arms stay in line with your chest when you rotate. Don't be surprised if you're really stiff when you start this movement. Come back to standing and continue the lunge/rotate movement on the same side for 15 repetitions. Repeat opposite side. If you find that you're leaning forward and not able to keep a straight back, don't go as deep into the lunge.

Deep Squat
Simply stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Drop down into a deep squat. Try to keep your feet firmly planted and bottom as close to the ground as possible. If you have the mobility, bring your hands in prayer position and press your elbow against the inside of your knees. Hold for up to three minutes. A lot of people can't get down into this position for 30 seconds, much less at all, without feeling some pain. It's a good test of mobility and something you should work up to.

Half of my warm up include movements like these. I usually focus on them for 10 to 15 minutes. Not too long, but long enough that my joints are less tight - particularly my hips. The other half of my warm up includes drills. I'll write about these in greater detail next time. For the time being, I've listed a few at the bottom of the post.

If you’re just catching up with the training plan, the five previous installments are below. I'm back in the thick of intense training again. I'll have two more weeks here, then a recover week...then race day!

Days 1 – 4
Days 5 – 7

Days 8 – 11
Days 12 – 16
Days 17 - 22


Day 23
Warm Up (see bottom of post)
Main Set
Repeat the following interval ten (10) times. This set was designed for a treadmill, on which you can control the incline. The incline starts at 10%, then drops down 1% with each interval. As the incline drops, your pace should pick up slightly. Your speed will be fairly slow as your effort on the incline will be very difficult. Don't go out too fast, but keep it challenging.

1minute and  15 seconds hard effort at 85-90% , 45 seconds to 1minute easy recovery (lessen the incline). You need to be at 65% or below before the next set.
No 1. Incline 10%
2. Incline 9%
3. Incline 8%
4. Incline 7%, etc., all the way down to 1%

Cool down

Day 24
Rest. Take an active rest day. Do nothing overly aggressive. Try an easy yoga class, an easy swim, go for a long walk or loosen up on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes.

Day 25
Warm Up (see bottom of post)

4 minutes easy 65% working on cadence (about 180 foot strikes/minute)
3minutes build up to 75%
2minutes build from 65% up to 80%
1 minute at 80-85% effort
Main set

Repeat the following interval six (6) times.
Run 1/2 mile.
Rest for 90 seconds. Repeat.
Record your time for each interval.
6x 1/2 mile repeats on 5mins. Race pace work 85%+. Record your time.

After your last half-mile, jog for 3minutes very easy.

Repeat the following set three (3) times.
1 minute easy effort
1 minute hard effort (over race pace)

Cool Down


Day 26
Warm Up (See bottom of post)

Ten 30-second intervals, alternating between easy pace to hard pace.

Main set 

Repeat the following set three (3) times.
5 minutes at 80% effort (should feel fairly comfortable, but challenging)
1min easy effort
3 minutes at 85% effort (should feel uncomfortable, but doable)
1 minute easy effort
1minute 90%+ effort (definitely uncomfortable)
2 minutes easy effort

Cool down. Get ready for race rehearsal tomorrow.

Day 27
Race Rehearsal Day!
After a good warm up, do ten 30-second intervals, alternating between easy pace to hard pace. Now you're ready to go. Look at your watch and run 3.1 miles as fast as you're able. Take the first mile out fast, but controlled. Focus in on the second mile. Then really try to pick up the pace and drive your speed home for the third mile.

Recover. Do 10 minutes of movements to cool down afterward.

Day 28
Rest. Take an active rest day. Do nothing overly aggressive. Try an easy yoga class, an easy swim, go for a long walk or loosen up on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes.


Mobility Work (10 minutes mobility work)

  •  High kicks
  • Hip openers
  • Side bends

Drill Work 2 Times Through:

  • 60 fore foot hops, each foot. Focus is foot strength. Take your running shoes off. You can use a jump rope. Tilt at the hips.
  • 15 right knee lift/ 15 left
  • Walking  hurdle step (open up the hips)
  • Heel to butt kicks, 2 x 20 seconds

Wait, don’t leave yet! If you’re not joining me on Facebook yet, now’s a great time. There’s a lot more information on nutrition, diet and fitness. I love talking with my fans and enjoy putting together fitness plans and body-specific meal plans…just for them! If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.