My outdoor gym

I was standing outside the entrance of the local park waiting for my workout partner when my phone rang. It was her. Dang it! She was still at school handing out class assignments so wouldn’t be able to make it. I changed my plan and decided to run a 30 minute warmup then go check out the playground equipment.

Granted, it was a cold January day but there was no one there! I imagined that right at that moment, during lunchtime, the four gyms I knew of within a five minute walking distance were all filled. Warm environments with music blasting and televisions lined up in a row tuned to different stations. Here at the free park you could get just as much done with the added bonus of a metabolism blaster: the cold environment. I was dressed enough that all I had to do was keep moving to keep my body temperature up.

General body and muscle strengthening exercises are an essential part of keeping your running body in smooth working order. You need a solid frame (muscles and tendons) so you don’t break down when you begin running or start to increase your mileage. I even put them in our 5K Beginners Course workouts! But you don’t necessarily need to lift weights. Just use your natural body weight and gravity will do the rest.

My caveman stick figure drawing talent

I used the bar above to do pull ups but because I’m an upper body weakling I placed my feet on the ground slightly forward, then leaned back and pulled up. If needed I used my legs to help lift  myself up, but I still tried to feel tension in my arms.

Right behind me I spotted a picnic table…

Lonely winter picnic tables

Perfect for doing steps! This is a great exercise for your glutes, essential for correct running posture. The key to performing steps is to keep your back straight and concentrate on your glutes while you’re stepping up and down. If I see a runner bending at their waist as they step up I have them clasp their hands together above their head. This helps maintain posture straight and if you lean forward too much your entire body goes forward. You can feel yourself coming out of position rather than needing someone spot you or check yourself in a gym mirror.

5 seconds to get in photo position!

I also did burpees and full squats. So my workout was:

  • 30:00 warmup run
  • 4 x (10 pull ups + 10 full squats + 10 steps per leg + 10 burpees)

It only took me 20 minutes to complete the exercises… but the next day I was sore sore sore! A sure sign that not only do I need to get my butt to the park again next week, but it should be every week.