Posted by: David Stewart | December 31, 2013

30 days of push-ups for runners

Does the runner in your life take on strange personal challenges for no apparent reason other than to challenge themselves?

Traditionally the winter is supposed to be about base building. Under this rule of thumb, a runner will use the cold months to gain strength so that when things warm up, training miles will be on a stable base. Or so the thinking goes.

This Christmas, the plan was to spend a full two weeks visiting friends and family in Colorado. My experience last year was that the altitude and cold in the Denver area is not something that I’m used to, and it makes it very hard to train effectively, so I didn’t have high expectations for good running.

Then I chanced upon this 30-day Push-Up Challenge on the internet. It was pretty simple: 100 push-ups a day for 30 days.

Oh, gee, push-ups. Push-ups are something my running coaches have advised me to do for years but which I have not done regularly or well. Like some runners, I am built with the T-Rex look: big thighs and itty bitty little arms. My wrists are probably the tiniest in my family. The story I told myself is that it was probably too late for me to ever have much upper body strength.

The nice thing about the 30-day challenge was that it allowed for beginners like me to start off with “cheater” push-ups, on my knees. It also allows that you don’t need to do them all in one session.

I am nearing the end of the 30 days and I’m really pleased with my progress. I started out not even able to complete 100 knee push-ups. Within the first week I was able to finally complete 100 cheaters and started mixing in regular toe push-ups. Currently I am doing about 80% toe push-ups and I’m hoping I’ll be at 100% by the time I complete 30 days. (Admittedly, I only did 50 on Christmas Day!)

Of course, although I might dream of having bulging biceps, the reality is that I have a typical ectomorph body type which means that all the workouts in the world will not easily build muscle mass. But the goal was to build core strength and do something to improve fitness which would leave me with no excuse due to weather.

Thanks to push-ups and short 8:30 pace maintenance runs, I’m spending this holiday season with a pleasant kind of soreness on my arms, chest area and legs. The kind of soreness you feel when you are working muscles and improving fitness. A nice feeling versus being discouraged because of lack of exercise.

Where to now that the 30 days are almost up? I feel more confident that I might be able continue to improve. I’m not sure I’ll continue 100 per day forever, but what about extending things to 100 days? It’s worth considering.

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