RUN, HOUSTON

Fred Faour: You are never too old or too out of shape to take up running as a hobby

Start running and you might see views like this one of AT&T Park in San Francisco. Fred Faour/SportsMap

So yes, technically I am on vacation, celebrating my wife's birthday with a trip to San Francisco. And it is a pretty slow time in Houston sports, so I could easily pass on writing my Monday column and no one would fault me.

Alas, I had some time after recovering from a nice run and thought today's missive would take a different direction.

For the past several years, we have been running (well, in my case jogging or staggering) through 10ks as a way to at least pretend to stay in shape. One of our favorites has been the Run Houston Race series, which features five different runs at five different locations around Houston. It is a cool way to keep your running goals, see some different places in the city and get in a nice run (they do 5ks as well). Two years ago, we did them all. Last year, due to travel conflicts, we missed most of them. This year, we vowed to do them all again.

Then this trip came up and conflicted with Sunday's race at UH-Clear Lake, the third in the series. Of the five, it is probably my second favorite (behind the UH run), in part because I spent a lot of my college life (and all my post-graduate work) at the school, and always had a fondness for the area.

Fortunately, the series now offers a "Virtual Race" option for just such conflicts. In essence, you have to run your sign-up distance three days before or after the actual race day to get credit for running. No offense to Clear Lake, but getting to run along the bay in San Francisco was a bit of an upgrade.

 

.
The Bay Bridge. Photo by me.

My path took me from downtown San Francisco to The Embarcadero trail. It was along the water the entire way, and allowed me to get sensational views of the Bay Bridge and perhaps the most unique baseball stadium in the country, AT&T; Park. My time was almost record slow, but it was hard to not stop and snap pictures quite often, and my always dodgy knee decided to buckle about 7k in. But I finished it, got credit for the third of the Run Houston races and also managed to take in some amazing scenery. (And pretty sure it was about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Clear Lake today).

I don’t run in these things to try to post fast times (not happening) and I don’t care if I finish last. I do them to have a reason to stay in shape, have some fun and push my aging body. As we get older, some of the things we used to do just aren’t practical (basketball, for instance. I am one snapped knee from six months of rehab, and who has time for that?). I was never much of a runner -- I always needed baskets or goal posts to shoot for -- but I enjoy it now nonetheless.

So if you are thinking of getting started, there are a lot of ways to get going. I started with the C2-5k app, which got me off the couch and started a program of running and walking to build up enough stamina to run a 5k. After about a year of 5ks, we stretched out to 10ks, and have been doing them ever since. At one point I actually ran a half marathon, and eventually would not mind trying another, but I am a long way from that at the moment. Regardless, the point is anyone can get out and run, and you are never too old or out of shape. (It's not like I am in perfect shape). Run Houston has two races left in the fall, (UH and Constellation Field in Sugar Land) and you have plenty time to get up to 5k speed.

Plus, there is no shortage of races for different causes every weekend in Houston. I tend to back off most of the summer races because the heat and humidity is so oppressive, but every now and then one crops up and I try it. (And vow to never again run in August, then sign up for another race two weeks later).

So if you have been looking  to get off the couch, and want to try something that can be fun, has a nice social aspect to it and can help you get in better shape, download the app and get started. You might find you enjoy it.

And before you say there is no way you could do it...I am an old, slightly overweight man with bad knees and health issues. If I can do it, what should stop you from getting started?

Then you can feel better about yourself when you blast past me on a run. 

 

Just a few minutes a day can make a difference. Courtesy photo

Exercises you can do while you are at work.

Get up off your feet ! … and move ‘til you feel better!

Do you sit at a desk for 8 hours of your work day? Sadly, 70% of Americans do and they hate it. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.2 million deaths can be attributed to lack of physical activity. And unfortunately these sedentary lifestyles increase our risk of bone and muscle loss, heart disease, and diabetes. Even if you are active on a daily, you are still possibly at risk of not getting enough activity to counteract your sedentary self of being at a desk for 8 hours at a time.

If you think about your daily routine, there is a lot of booty action, doing a whole lot of nothing. For most, you commute to work, sitting; work for 8 hours, sitting; commute home, sitting; then get home and spend more time, sitting, in front of the tv. Oh, and somewhere between that 10-14 hours of sitting you may have a 1-hour workout to try to help counteract the body from being sedentary. Then, guess what, at the end of a long work day, you’re back in bed for 7-8 hours to do it all over again. Let’s face it, as much as we want to be active and not think we are on our bums longer than we actually are. We are literally killing ourselves, putting our bodies at risk for obesity, poor posture, diabetes, heart disease, the list goes on and on.

The point is there are numerous ways to try to add some more activity to your day and quite frankly with just this little extra movement, you can reverse inevitable weight gain, or even save your life. Let’s start with simple stretches at your desk. Just do the stretches that feel good or right to you. And remember to hold for :30 on each side. You can start with your arms and work your way down the body. Take your right arm and place it across the chest (towards left), while at the same time bending your left arm around it. Now let’s move on to your wrists, (this will feel good, you’ll thank me). This is featured in my video attached, but if you stand up and put your palms flat on your desk (arms straight), and then start to flip them, (palms up then down, flexion and extension), alternating left and right wrists. This stretch feels amazing for people that sit in front of a computer and type all day.

After your arm stretches, move down the body, neck rolls, wrist stretching, shoulder shrugs, leg stretches, finally leading to standing up. Standing you can stretch the legs and then you can reach for the stars, or reach to each side of your wingspan, opening the chest. You can also stretch while sitting at the desk, prop one leg on the desk and reach for the toes, hold for :30, as you will see in the video below. While you are back to sitting, try some seated torso twists. This is demonstrated in the video as well. In the video I take you through these static stretches and some other exercises.

Now, that you have you’re warmed up and stretched out. Here are a few exercises to follow, to help keep the blood and juices flowing at work. (see video attached for reference)

  1. Seated Leg extensions: Sit in your chair, (knees bent), extend right leg completely straight and hold for :5 seconds. Then alternate legs. Continue to switch until you finish 10 on each leg. That is 1 set, repeat 2 more sets.
  2. Desk assisted push-ups: Stand 1 foot in front of your desk, lean forward so you are at an angle, and do a push on the edge of the desk. For the ladies that are self-conscious about their shoulders, try keeping your elbows in. This now focuses on the Tri-ceps. Do this 10 reps/ 3X
  3. Tri-cep Dips: Stand up and turn around to where your back is facing the desk. Position your hands shoulder width apart, placing your hands on the desk. Be sure to move the booty out front with legs extended. Bend at the elbows and voila! 10 reps/ repeat 3X
  4. Calf Raises:  Stand. For support you can use the back of your chair. Facing your desk, raise into the tip toes, hold for a brief second, then release. Repeat 10 times, and complete with 3 rounds.
  5. Wall Sits: Easy Peasy. Go to a wall (with your back against the wall), sit and pretend there is an invisible chair underneath you, into a seated position. Hold the position for about :30 each time.  Repeat 10 X.
  6. Standing lunges: Same lunge as always. Standing, take one leg back (bending) and lowering to the knee. Alternate legs. Repeat this 10X on each leg, 3 rounds
  7. Kick Backs: This exercise is demonstrated in the video. Standup, use your chair as a crutch. Kick back the right leg as high as you can with the knee cap facing the floor. Alternate legs. 10X on each leg, 3 rounds.
  8. Shoulder Press: Grab a couple binders or anything with a couple pounds of weight. Hold it flat at shoulder level and raise the item straight into the air (overhead) and back down again. Do this 10 X, 3 rounds.
  9. Squats: So easy, you can do these in the air or in your chair. Stand-up, sit back down, repeat 15 times. Or squat and hover over your chair, 15 times. Repeat this for 3 rounds.

Tappy, tap, tap: Here is an exercise anyone can do. Sit at your desk, for the foot tap drill. This means tapping each foot on the balls of the feet, and alternating right to left. Continue for :30 seconds and bam! Repeat 10X.

Now those exercises weren’t so bad, were they? Try to add them to your everyday routine, so that this becomes a lifestyle. Then…outside of your desk you can burn a few more calories by:

  1. Taking the stairs- No matter what floor you are on, you can always take the stairs.

  2. Take a walk break- Smoke breaks are old; walk breaks are in.. and the new thing

  3. Park further- Even if you are in a parking garage, give it a walk or 2

  4. Set your watch- For all the 2018 technology watch people; you can set timers for during the day as a reminder to “stand-up”, or “walk around”, or take a “mental break”

  5. DIY (do it yourself)- Instead of asking an intern or assistant for something…take over!

Want to take it one step further? Here are some items you can order to kick your booty in gear and take it to the next level. It’s December, add this to your Christmas list!

Bosu Ball- Keep it simple. There are tons of versions of these. You can either get a real bosu ball and sit on this. Or you can get the fancy one, where the bottom half is actually made into a chair, and top is half of a bosu. Either way, they are amazing to stretch on and even bounce around from time to time to keep your body active and moving!

Stand up desk – You can find many variations for the stand-up desk. This desk helps you get up off your feet! And not stuck in a chair for hours. You can find these just about anywhere online, Amazon.

Ergohead standing desk mat- not a flat anti-fatigue mat for stand-up desks; You can find this on Amazon. This is great for those that have stand up desks.

Desk Bike- MY FAV!  I have one, and it is awesome! However, amongst all the distractions, you do have to remember to pedal. 😊 Order online off the Vari-Desk website, or wherever when googling desk bike.

Portable Elliptical – It’s like an elliptical from the gym, except it’s mini and portable. Fit this under your desk to work your little legs without even knowing it!

 

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome