Summer is a time that many people feel reinvigorated and ready to get moving. It may be that shedding the layers draws our attention to areas we're self conscious about, or that more laid-back schedules afford us more free time to focus on ourselves and our fitness goals.
Whatever your reason, getting outdoors to walk or run is one of the most accessible places to start — it’s free, requires no special equipment, and can be done anywhere, anytime you’re able to fit it in.
But having a plan before you lace up your sneakers can help you get more out of every walk or jog, and gradually add speed or distance. That’s why this month we’re dedicating our focus to walking and/or running outside. Since not everyone has a fitness tracker that counts steps or distance, but everyone has a phone or a watch, this workout is based on time.
Another reason I love focusing on time over distance is because I see many people getting overwhelmed by the thought of running a 5k, or even walking a mile, if they have been sedentary for awhile. Committing to 20-minute walk or jog feels more manageable.
For simplicity, we’re breaking this down into two groups: the walkers and the runners. (And providing a beginner and intermediate workout for each group). Plus, we’ve put together a short strength training routine you can perform in the park or at home a few times each week that will help you sculpt lean muscle that will improve your walking and running performance.
Stand facing a park bench. Step up on to the bench with your right foot and then bring your left foot up to meet it. Then step down with your right foot and bring your left foot down to meet it. Repeat 10 times like this, and then switch to let the left foot lead.
Instead of stepping all the way up onto the bench, lift the right leg up so that the sole of your right foot taps the bench, and then put the foot down. Lift the left leg up so that the sole of the left foot taps the bench, then put it down. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Place both hands on the bench shoulder distance apart (either with palms flat or with fingers on the bench and the palm curling around the edge of the seat — whatever is more comfortable for you). Step both feet back so that you are in a plank position. The further you step back, the more you will engage the core and the more challenging it will be! Pull the navel in towards the spine, and then bend the elbows out to the sides. Lower your chest towards the bench, performing a push up, and then press down through the hands to return to the starting position.
Facing away from the bench, place both hands on the edge of the bench so that the palms are resting on the seat and your fingers are facing towards your body. Hug the elbows in towards your sides. With your knees bent at 90 degrees, bend the elbows straight back, lowering your butt towards the ground, and then press down through the palms to bring yourself back up to the starting position. To make this more difficult, you can walk the feet out further away from you. Just make sure to keep the back straight up and down in front of the bench.
Sitting on a park bench with your hands gently holding on to the edge of the seat, bend the knees in towards your chest. Then, slowly lower them down towards the ground so that your feet almost tap the ground. Slowly bring the knees back in towards the chest by using your abdominals.