The 3 Best Stretches for Runners

As a runner, if you can consistently do these 3 fundamentals, then you will be ahead of most people’s entire stretch routine.

The stretches below are definitely not a complete program, but they are the missing link

As a runner, if you can consistently do these 3 fundamentals, then you will be ahead of most people’s entire stretch routine.

The stretches below are definitely not a complete program, but they are the missing link to the most common weaknesses I find in runners, and if you only have a short time, these will give you the best bang for your buck.

Before we begin, I want you to know that the best program is one that is tailored specifically to your weaknesses, imbalances and goals. Therefore, chances are you will need a lot more than these stretches to take you to the next level – so check out the videos and extras at the end of this post.

Important note: ALWAYS WARM-UP BEFORE STRETCHING. Try this warm-up routine or this one.

One last thing….make sure you know what stretching is all about before jumping into any program.

Stretch #1

FRONT SPLITS

Best runners tretches image
Front splits

No, this is not only for gymnasts. Yes, it is advanced, but is the single-most important stretch anyone can do to improve their stride length and make the running motion effortless.

*Make sure to point the front foot upwards to lengthen the calves too, unlike the picture shows.**

If you are a very stiff person, this stretch is not for you. Start with something simpler, like this and this.

What’s great about this stretch is that it lengthens the hamstrings, calves and hip flexors at the same time, just like in a running or jumping stride.

Use props (yoga blocks, chairs, etc.) so that you can remain upright, not bent forward. Get into and out of this position carefully. Hang out here for 1-3 minutes per side, repeating as often as necessary.

Stretch #2

ACHILLES TENDON & PLANTAR FASCIA

Best runners stretches image
Achilles Tendon & Plantar Fascia Stretch

Everyone seems to do this stretch already, but most people do it wrong. You know why? They think they are only stretching their muscles and hold the position for 20-30 seconds, but that is not the focus here….it’s FASCIA. Lengthening the achilles tendon and plantar fascia, and improving dorsi flexion are the goals here, not simply going through the motion.

Have you ever noticed how long dancers, gymnasts and martial artists hold their stretches? A lot longer than 20-30 seconds. This is why their entire body is flexible, not just one little area. Their longer holding times get deep into the fascia and unwind all the connecting tissues that hold the muscles, bones, organs etc. together.

In order to stretch fascia, you need to hold a stretch at least 90 seconds so it can weave its way deep into the tissues and unwind all around the muscles. Use your breathing to enhance this process.

Make sure to position the step in the middle of the foot so you can really feel the stretch throughout the bottom of the foot and plantar fascia, as well as in the achilles tendon and calf area.

Hold this stretch for at least 90 seconds and let it really sink in deep. Also make sure to keep your foot pointed straight and not rotated outwards. You can also try it with a bent knee to get more of the soleus area. Only repeat this stretch 1-2 per day and resist the temptation to push too hard.

Stretch #3

TORSO TWIST

Best runners stretches image
Torso Twist

This stretch is WAY overlooked. Most runners I work with are also desk jockeys or people who sit a lot. This means that their shoulders and thoracic spine are out of position and lack mobility – therefore restricting arm swing during running and decreasing lung (oxygen) volume due to impaired rib expansion.

In other words, this is one of those stretches that will increase your endurance and performance without feeling like it is doing much at all during the stretch…..which is of course why most people don’t take the time to do it.

Start completely on your side with your knees tucked, almost like fetal position, but not so crunched together. Roll backwards as far as you can and hang  out there for 30-90 seconds. Your shoulder should touch the floor without pulling the bottom shoulder forward to cheat.

Also make sure your knees stay together – put your bottom hand on top of them to hold in place.

Come out of this stretch slowly, and back to the starting position before you get up so you don’t kink your low back. Take two good breaths after coming back to neutral, then switch sides. Repeat 2-3 times per day.

BONUS MATERIAL

1. LEG ELEVATION

photo (21)

Use 1 or 2 legs, put them up against a wall and hang out for 3-5 minutes.

This is especially useful after a run to clear the legs of “old blood” and help them recover faster.

It also is a great way to stretch the hamstrings.

Make sure your hips/butt are on the floor.

2. FOAM ROLL. The only reason it wasn’t mentioned above is that it isn’t a stretch…it is a self-massage. Either way, it is necessary for peak performance and recovery.

3. Use these STRETCHING VIDEOS to find out where you are tightest and need to balance tension. Scan through the videos and keep the stretches that you need to work on the most.

4. Know your NUTRITION. Do you know how many calories you need to eat to sustain your efforts? Are you eating enough protein to recover from workouts? What about enough fat and carbs so you don’t have mood swings, hormonal issues and much more?

Calculate everything you need to know here, for free.

5. Bonus EXERCISE/DYNAMIC STRETCH

photo (2)

This is for your hamstrings and lower abdominals. The goal is to keep your legs straight and move them as far up and down as possible – all the while supporting the low back with abdominal bracing and proper breathing.

This helps activate the quads to dynamically stretch the hamstrings, while simultaneously forcing the abs to stabilize the pelvis. The front splits at the beginning of this post are great for improving a runners stride length. This exercise is great for improving the ability to actively utilize that length.

Perform this exercise for 10-20 seconds at a time, until it is easy to do so for 60 seconds in a row – the motion should be slow and steady.

You should NOT feel this in your low back. If you do, you need to look into your hip flexor tightness issues and your ability to maintain a neutral spine while your legs are mobile.

Healthy Lunches

*Try to find as many organic options as possible.

** needs a thermos or to be heated

  1. Apple sandwich w nut butter and Granola and more
  2. Quinoa side dish salad
  3. Sweet potato, yogurt and cooked greens
  4. Fruit on the bottom of greek yogurt cup w Granola and more on top
  5. Bean, bacon & butternut squash soup w chard**
  6. Lentils, rice (basmati, brown or fried rice) and veggies**
  7. Mashed potatoes n Stuff** (either boil and mash, or bake and scoop out and mash with butter, adding shredded skins too. Then add caramelized onions, mushrooms, garlic, paprika, salt, meat, chili and sour cream or cheese
  8. Meat, cheese and crackers, fruit*
  9. Soups/chili/scalloped potatoes/fried rice/leftovers**
  10. Hard boiled eggs, cheese, bacon, Salad, etc.
  11. Fried rice
  12. Roasted squash soup w beans** (can add meat)
  13. Pamesian polenta with eggs
  14. Lettuce wrap sandwiches with leftover meats and veggies, fruit
  15. Leftover meatballs in lettuce wraps
  16. Sushi rolls
  17. Lentil soup w yogurt
  18. Leftover meat with fresh veggie salads and olive oil herb season dressing
  19. Pho soups
  20. Mustard chicken thighs with rice and veggies
  21. Potato salad
  22. Bone broth or broth with gelatin  and veggies + hard boiled eggs and or cheese stick or yogurt
  23. Black beans, Spanish rice, salsa and guacamole
  24. Black bean salad + avocado, cucumber, red pepper, corn, cilantro and olive oil
  25. Steak salads chicken salads, and shrimp salads
  26. Stir fry tofu, veggies and rice
  27. Breadless meat-roll sandwiches …  Cucumber ham/roast beef sandwiches
  28. Leftover Fritatta
  29. Jerky + Granola and more + yogurt +
  30. Crockpot leftovers… Chili-cilantro-lime crock pot chickenchili ColoradoCreamy red shrimp and tomato curry

Healthy Breakfasts

*Try to find as many organic options as possible.

  1. Plain oatmeal, coconut oil, cinnamon and fruit
  2. Plain oatmeal, plain greek yogurt* and fruit or honey
  3. Omelet or eggs with beans and or tortillas
  4. Whipped sweet potato (1) w/coconut oil (1-2T) and  cinnamon (1t)
  5. Hard boiled eggs, fruit and nuts or Granola and more
  6. Smoothies and more smoothies and more
  7. Apple sandwich w nut butter and Granola and more
  8. Home fries (sweet, sweet or regular potatoes) and eggs
  9. Hash browns (sweet or regular or regular potatoes) and eggs
  10. Pulled pork breakfast scramble
  11. Frittata’s
  12. Granola and more and plain greek yogurt + berries
  13. Hash and eggs
  14. Kabobs (leftovers) and eggs
  15. Sweet potato latke’s
  16. Butternut squash & bacon hash (add eggs on top)
  17. Butternut squash hash
  18. Raw Buckwheat porridge
  19. Cooked buckwheat porridge
  20. No-oatsmeal and more
  21. Banana bread and Greek yogurt
  22. Burritos (eggs, potatoes, salsa, cheese, meat)
  23. Chillaquiles + eggs or beans and salsa
  24. Leftovers (meat, potatoes or veggies) + eggs
  25. Huevos Ranchero’s

Drinks

  1. Fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice
  2. Tea + gelatin (1-2T) and optional honey (1-3t)
  3. Coffee
  4. Tea
  5. Raw milk

Healthy Snacks & Sides

Snacks & Sides

  1. Chili topper
  2. Lemon Bars
  3. Popcorn
  4. Banana Bread*
  5. Peppermint Ice Cream!
  6. Pudding
  7. Chips and Guacamole/ Salsa
  8. Nachos
  9. Quesadillas 
  10. Raisins
  11. Nuts
  12. Trail Mix
  13. Healthy nut Butters (Artisana brand)
  14. Protein shakes or smoothies
  15. Energy Bars (Cliff Bars, greens plus natural energy bars)
  16. Peanut/Almond Butter Sandwich (use homemade banana bread)
  17. Beans and tortilla chips or rice and or avocado or salsa
  18. Burritos or tacos or enchiladas (not taco bell)
  19. Omelet (cheese, veggies, salsa. etc.)
  20. Cheese and Salami
  21. Fried Rice
  22. Jerky
  23. Coconut Ice Cream
  24. Milk shakes (homemade with ice cream and milk)
  25. Hard Boiled eggs
  26. Carrots/celery and peanut/almond butter
  27. Dried Fruits(unsulphured and unsweetened)
  28. Granola and more and Yogurt
  29. Potato salad
  30. Carrot soup

Healthy Dinners

*Try to find as many organic options as possible.

** needs a thermos or to be heated

MAIN ENTREE’S

  1. Scalloped potatoes (add ham or sausage, serve with veggies)
  2. Hash and eggs (all types, include my turkey, add an egg or two)
  3. Twice baked potatoes and meat with veggies
  4. Bean, bacon and butternut squash soup
  5. Curry chicken and sweet potato stew
  6. Healthy fried chicken (serve with mashed potatoes with veggies)*
  7. Coconut oil fried fish, sweet potato fries and veggies
  8. Steak and potatoes and veggies
  9. Ginger orange drumsticks
  10. Tacos – veggie  fish chicken beef beef or shrimp
  11. Ginger chicken
  12. Bacon and sweet potato turkey burgers
  13. Beef stew
  14. Italian shredded beef
  15. Liver burgers
  16. Sausage-stuffed acorn squash
  17. Ice cream (That’s right! Homemade ice cream is healthy and well balanced. Every once in a while it’s the perfect dinner!)
  18. Chili Colorado (serve with beans, rice and or tortillas and veggies)
  19. Roast Chicken Provencal (serve with potatoes and veggies)
  20. Fish Soup
  21. Stuffed bell peppers….more here
  22. Spaghetti squash and meat sauce and more
  23. Meatball soup
  24. Enchiladas chicken beef or shrimp
  25. Taco salad
  26. Chicken chili
  27. Spanish paella
  28. Chorizo Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms & Chickpeas
  29. Quiche
  30. Egg noodles and chicken curry sauce
  31. Lamb kabobs and yogurt
  32. Shepherds pie
  33. Risotto recipes
  34. Meatballs  meatballs and meatballs
  35. Frittata’s
  36. Lentil soup w yogurt
  37. Slow cooker pulled pork tacos
  38. Chicken chili verde with tomatillos and butternut squash
  39. Mustard chicken with twice baked potatoes and veggies
  40. Roasted red pepper soup with mini meatballs
  41. Meatloaf and meatloaf and moatloaf
  42. Zucchini chicken breast alfredo
  43. Pecan and goat cheese crusted chicken
  44. Maple balsamic salmon
  45. Veggie turkey burgers
  46. Hot Chinese mustard chicken thighs, wrapped in collard greens
  47. Creamy red shrimp and tomato curry
  48. Chili-cilantro-lime crock pot chicken
  49. Turkey burger lettuce wrap and veggies
  50. Stir fry tofu, veggies and rice
  51. Sushi rolls
  52. Pho soups
  53. Creamy red shrimp and tomato curry
  54. Portabella chicken sandwich with sweet potato chips
  55. Steak salads chicken salads, and shrimp salads

Dinner Sides

  1. Rice
  2. Baked potatoes
  3. Twice baked potatoes
  4. Mashed potatoes n Stuff** (either boil and mash, or bake and scoop out and mash with butter, adding shredded skins too. Then add caramelized onions, mushrooms, garlic, paprika, salt, meat, chili and sour cream or cheese
  5. Zucchini manicotti
  6. Mexican rice
  7. Refried beans
  8. Sweet potato and white beans 
  9. Roasted squash soup w beans, could add sausage or meat
  10. Tortillas
  11. Veggies
  12. Quinoa
  13. Whole beans

5 Foods that are Dramatically Sabotaging Your Longevity and Vitality

1. Vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils/butters/margarine/etc.

2. Frequent restaurant eating.

  • They typically use the cheapest veggie oils, non-organic, grain fed, antibiotic and hormone-laden meat. Not to mention processed salt and everything else based on saving money.

3.  Hormone and antibiotic fed animal products

4. Processed soy products are badvery bad and horrible for you.

5. Eating overcooked foods is related to cancer, deficiencies, toxicities and more.

Bonus Lists

5 Foods You Probably AREN’T Eating that can Dramatically Improve Longevity and Vitality

1. Bone broths and gelatin.

  • Our ancestors used these to stay healthy and strong without wasting any parts of the animal. Without animal broths we miss essential nutrition for our bones, skin, hair, organs and rest of the body. Read what these experts have to say about it and how to make it here, here and here.

2. Raw milk, butter, ghee and kefir

  • This is a touchy topic that is making its way to supreme court and getting people and communities arrested! Know your facts and choose raw dairy, ghee and kefir as often as possible if health is your goal. At least that’s what these people say here, here, here, here and here.
  • Pasteurization destroys enzymes, proteins and worsens health.

3. Pre and Probiotics and Yogurt

4. Coconut Oil

5. Eggs and saturated fat from GRASS FED animals

  • Don’t be afraid of these. Our ancestors ate them and were healthier than we are today by far.   Don’t believe me?, Read what these brilliant people have to say about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Calculating Calories and %’s of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats Per Day

One of the major disservices people do to their bodies these days is simply eating until they are full while having no idea how many calories or how much protein, fat and carbohydrates they are eating on a daily basis. This leads to obesity, nutrient deficiencies and disease before you ever reach 40 years old.

Please take the time to read this so you can get an idea of how to manage your foods and give your body the right amount and types of fuel it needs to have vitality and longevity.

In the meantime, enjoy these healthy meals and recipes – hopefully you will add them to a nutrition regimen that supports your unique lifestyle and requirements.

Step #1 – Calculate your Total Calorie Intake

 Basal Metabolic Rate

Your BMR is the amount of energy you expend daily at rest.

Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

 Active Metabolic Rate

Your AMR represents how many calories are required to stay at your current weight, depending on your activity level.

Calculate your AMR by using your BMR and estimating your current level of activity. If you are:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise) – your AMR = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/work 1-3 days per week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/work 3-5 days per week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.725
  • Ultra active (very hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week) – your AMR = BMR x 1.9

Step #2 – Calculate your Protein Intake

 Here is a good chart and study.

*Note: If you are very overweight and your excess weight is from excess body fat (not muscle), these #’s will overestimate your protein needs. The extra fat on your body does not require extra protein intake.

To avoid overestimating your protein needs, use your desired, healthy weight instead of your actual weight.

Step #3 – Calculate your Protein, Carb and Fat %’s

Once you know your (a) calories and (b) protein per day, you can calculate what % your protein will take up of your diet. This will give you some idea of how to adjust the rest of your calories; fat and carbs.

To find your protein calories per day; multiply your protein (grams) by 4 (there are 4 calories in every gram of protein) – this gives you your total # of protein calories per day.

Now take your total protein calories and divide it by your total calories (AMR) – this gives you your % of protein per day of your total calories.

So let’s say your total calories are 2,000, and your protein intake per day should be 100 grams (400 calories); 400 divided by 2,000 = 0.20, or 20%. That leaves 80% for fat and carbs.

There are 4 calories per gram in carbs and protein, and 9 calories per gram in fat. That means there are over twice as many calories in equal amounts of fat than carbs or protein.

So now that you have your total calories and protein %, it’s time to figure out your fat and carb %’s. This is where it gets tricky and varies a lot, depending on your goals, lifestyle and body type, so much so that an entire chapter in a book should be dedicated to it.

Lucky for you, I did just that, and you can find it here in my E-Book, Boosting Metabolism with Food and Habits.

Just an FYI, the average American adult (35.7% obesity incidence) intakes the following:

  • Men = 2,504 calories/day
  • Women = 1,771 calories/day
  • Carbohydrates = 50%
  • Fat = 33.5%
  • Protein = 16%

Here is an example of an active person with an AMR of 2,000 calories and who intakes 33% fat, 20% protein and 47% carbs.

  • Fat = 660 calories or 73.3 grams per day
  • Protein = 400 calories or 100 grams per day
  • Carbohydrates = 940 calories or 235 grams per day

LET THE EXPERIMENTATION BEGIN!!!

If you need professional guidance to help fine tune your ratios for maximum health and performance, then that is where I come in.

I can help you monitor your symptoms (cold hands or feet, or changes in body temperature and pulse after eating usually mean that your ratios and or foods are off) and change your ratios or foods so that your body gets the perfect combination and types of foods to utilize.

This could mean the difference between health and disease…or 1st place and 5th place.

My consultation fees are as low as you will find for what you will get. Our first session will be $65 and last at least 30 minutes on the phone, including email questionnaires, handouts, specific food options, allergy monitoring and more, plus monthly Q & A’s via email. After that, a monthly plan can be worked out via email Q.A. for a very reasonable monthly fee.

Contact me for more info hallfordhealth@gmail.com

Kitchen, Cooking and Eating Tips

 

fab-five-coolest-kitchens-rational-cosmo-2

~ Many of these are adopted from the Weston A. Price Foundation ~

  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Learn how to make your own lard and tallow
  3. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  4. Chew your foods into liquid
  5. Choose your fats and oils wisely –  include butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
  7. If your foods can’t spoil, then you shouldn’t eat them.
  8. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  9. Eat naturally-raised, antibiotic-free and organic meat, including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  10. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil (small amounts – 1/2 tsp per day).
  13. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  14. Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  15. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  16. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  17. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  18. If you are eating mostly cooked foods in a meal, then a lacto-fermented condiment is a must.
  19. When cooking a meal, always think ahead 1-3 meals to see if anything needs to be soaked, marinated or slow cooked.
  20. Understand how to maximize your enzyme intake.
  21. Make sure to clean your cutting boards well and use wood for meats and bacteria containing items.
  22. Do not overcook your foods. Understand that olive oil is not good at high heats and that garlic should not be cooked as high or as long as onions,. Learn the many techniques for preserving enzymes and nutrients.
  23. Start your day (breakfast) off with fresh foods, not boxed, processed or canned.
  24. Always skim foam off top of stocks, soups, legumes and stews – this is where many impurities rise to the top. Add your spices after skimming the foam off.
  25. Aim for a diet that is 50% raw or enzyme-enhanced. Raw foods include fruits, vegetables, meats, fats and milk products.
  26. Know how to peel, cut coarse and dice
  27. Freeze and preserve fresh herbs
  28. How to stir fry
  29. Learn the best way to make mashed potatoes
  30. Know how to choose and cook lamb
  31. Use a thermos for hot lunches…or this one
  32. Don’t drink more than 4 ounces with your meal, 15 minutes before or 45 minutes after.
  33. Use a toaster oven instead of a microwave.
  34. Eat in peace with gratitude – do not eat stressed or in a rush.
  35. Make sure your oils are not old and rancid.

Easy & Delicious Chili Colorado Recipe

My new specialty and favorite…and it’s EASY!

 
  • 2lbs beef (I like chuck roast)
  • Flour
  • 2 Tblsp chili powder
  • 2 Tsp cumin
  • 2 Tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 Tsp onion powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or water, but chicken broth is best)
  • Olive oil
Step 1
Cut 2lbs of meat into about 1 inch cubes
Step 2
Roll them in flour and cover completely – flour is optional but adds flavor
Step 3
Add meat to hot pan with oil already in it and cook until all sides are browned (the browning adds flavor and texture)
Step 4
Stir in the broth/water, tomato paste and spices 
Step 5
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer on low heat for 2-4 hours with the lid on, stirring every 20-30 minutes
Step 6
This meal is great in burritos, as a side with rice and beans, or with our homemade tortilla recipe!