It’s November! This next week feels pretty important and is causing a lot of anxiety across the board! Let’s remember that life stress isn’t great for training, and if you’re having a lot of anxiety outside or running, let’s just keep things easy! No need to force a workout and an injury to the end of a pretty strange year.
Ellie and I had a tough introduction to winter this past week. It snowed half a foot and the temps dropped to -10 overnight! Our water lines froze and the 4WD on our car was also a little cold and locking up! After some shenanigans, everything thawed out and we aren’t taking our water for granted again!
The cold temps gave us both some quality time on the TM and thank you all for the streaming recommendations! We have our list and we’ll pick through it this winter (and please feel free to share if something else pops up that’s a ‘can’t miss’)! It is worth noting that treadmill runs and no water/showers lead to a couple of stinky days around the Fox Household…
Lastly, we had 2 fosters adopted on Friday! This isn’t all that uncommon, but we were so ready to have a little quiet around the house and this was a huge relief! They found great homes and we both got some sleep in the less chaotic house!
Hamstring Strength & Mobility:
The hamstrings aren’t a muscle grouping that most of us spend too much time thinking about. They can feel tight on occasion or with speedwork, but unlike an IT Band tightness or achilles tightness, it’s rare for the hamstring to cause any crippling pain (rare, but I have experienced it and seen it a few times).
Concentric contraction (shortening of the muscle belly) of the hamstrings creates leg flexion around the knee joint. Your heel moves towards your butt. Same as the quads (and all muscles), the hamstrings are strongest in eccentric contraction, or resisting extension around the knee joint.
I notice my hamstring most during a sustained climb or during some speedwork. As the foot reaches out in front of you, you ‘pull’ yourself up and over your center of mass. You want to avoid overstriding as a general rule, and if those hamstrings start to become really noticeable, look at shortening that stride length. Downhill running doesn’t put a lot of strain on the hamstrings, but you may notice them if you overextend and they’re feeling a little tight!
A serious cause of hamstring tightness is prolonged periods of sitting in a chair! Your hip flexors are in a shortened position as your femur is closer to your torso. Your hamstrings are in a shortened position with your legs bent and feet planted on the floor. To top off the problem, tight hips themselves can cause tighter hamstrings as the hamstrings have to work harder to offset the ‘scrunched’ position caused by your hips! Offsetting this problem with mobility and strengthening work can make a world of difference!
I use a yoga ball and various ‘weights’ sitting around the house for the following exercises! I also apologize for the picture formatting in these newsletters. When I transfer over to the Mailchimp platform, everything loses the formatting and there’s no way to change it on the platform!
Hamstring Yoga-Ball Curl:
With your legs propped on a yoga ball as you lay on the ground, ‘curl’ the ball towards you and away from you. One-legged variation makes this far more difficult!
Lay on the ground with your feet on the ground close to your glutes. ‘Squeeze’ the glutes as you move your pelvis off the ground and in-line with your torso. One-legged variation for added difficulty (or weight held at the pelvis).
Balance on one leg and pivot at the hips with a straight back to ‘touch the ground’. Keep a straight or slightly bent balancing leg as you bring your ‘non-grounded’ leg behind you. Pictures likely help - add weight for difficulty!
Hamstring Chair ‘Ball Roll’:
This is my favorite as you can really roll out the hamstrings while working at your desk! Position a small ball between your hamstring and chair and extend/flex your leg to really move the muscle fibers over the ball!
Normal Hamstring Rolling:
While watching a show/scrolling Instagram/contemplating life’s deep questions, roll over your hamstrings with a conventional roller!
Opening up the hips is often a great way to alleviate some tension in the hamstrings. We don’t want to stretch the hamstrings if they’re especially tight as that may delay the healing process! Picture is easier than described here.
Another hip-opening exercise!
Ben L. had a pretty wild week! First, he ran a really incredible race at the South Downs Way 50 miler getting a 26.2 and 50k personal best in the process! His goal was sub-10 hours and he got in just a couple of minutes under! The most impressive aspect of his race was that the training wasn’t ‘perfect’ as he’s been incredibly busy with work and… preparing for his wedding that was only 4 days after the race!
Jim O. ran an amazing half this past weekend getting a PR by a few seconds and winning the masters division! He also got a 10 mile PR out there and on a really difficult and hilly course! Jim has been working really really hard this year and has been modifying his training like a champ as one race after another has gotten cancelled!
Zack S. got a well-earned finish at the Pachaug 50k this past weekend after running a few ‘bonus miles’ that weren’t planned! Having the will to finish a race when you have spent a little time off-course and the A/B/C time goals are off the table is no easy task and takes some grit that transfers well to future races of every distance!
Brittney took second place at a trail 25k! This year has been so incredibly busy for her and her husband, Bejan, as they are both tackling big career changes amidst an especially wild year! Life stress can make for great running training as Brittney showed last weekend!
Ben M. ran the Mission Tejas 50k last weekend and absolutely crushed the course! Ben has also had a year full of big life changes and has had a crazy amount of work with some 7-day work weeks thrown in! Training for an ultra is hard enough if you have the time, but Ben’s training blocks end up being a balance between finding the right times to get the run in or finding the right time to get a few extra precious hours of sleep in! Ben balances it all like a champ and his race was a testament to the hard work that he has put in!