Running in the 'Meda: Maintaining a routine

Running in the 'Meda: Maintaining a routine

Marty Beene


I tweaked my back a couple of weeks ago. I'm blaming it on the Franchise Tax Board - I was bending over our kitchen table slightly to address the envelope with our state tax return when my lower back seized up. Ugh.

It actually wasn't too bad, definitely not like a few years ago when I sneezed and ended up flat on my back for a week and in pain for two. Back then, it happened a couple more times (again, not too severely) before I got serious about a core strengthening and flexibility routine. All I do is a few planks (which I illustrate in this video), a set of "Supermans" (lie on your stomach, raise your arms and legs, hold for up to 10 seconds, repeat five to 10 times), and some hamstring stretches. It takes 10 minutes at most.

So why did my back fail me now? Simple: I got lazy. Instead of doing that very basic routine four to five times each week, I was only doing it twice. Okay, once. My experience illustrates the importance of consistency in an exercise routine. In order to maintain strength, endurance, or whatever your purpose is for exercise, you must do it almost every day. You don't need to run every single day like you sometimes read about. But - take running as an example - you do need to "run" five to six days per week to get the benefits of the exercise.

Yes, I put "run" in quotes. The reason is that you may not need to actually do your primary form of exercise each of those five to six days per week. In fact, when I had my back issue a couple weeks ago, I feared that it would ruin my training plan for the upcoming races on my calendar. But instead of sitting around waiting for my body to be ready to run again, I got out and walked for a half hour on that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. By Thursday, I was able to do a short, easy run, and by Friday I knocked out a moderately challenging workout.

One of the hardest things for new exercisers is to develop a simple enough routine to make it easy to turn into a habit. This might take time to figure out, but it's worth it. Take my routine to keep my back healthy. For a while, it was easy because my wife and I were going to the gym three to four times a week, and I would just do it when I was there, plus once or twice more at other times during each week. But we've gotten away from that to some degree, choosing to do about an hour of brisk walking on a couple of those days instead. But knowing that my routine only takes 10 minutes, I figured out that, on days when I don't go to the gym, I can simply zip through it in the 10 minutes before I leave for my coaching gig at Alameda High.

How have you turned your exercise routine into a habit that is easy to follow consistently? What challenges have you faced in doing so?

In other, VERY BIG NEWS, the world record for the Beer Mile has been broken (pending ratification)! Last Sunday, James Nielsen shattered the previous record of 5:04.9 and broke the mystical five-minute barrier, running a 4:57, only a few days before the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister's famous sub-4 non-beer-mile performance. Check out the video here!

Marty Beene, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and specialist in senior fitness and fitness nutrition, is owner of Be The Runner; he trains adults of all abilities individually and in groups. He can be reached at Marty has never attempted a Beer Mile, and probably will not. Ever.