[Jordan Metzl & myself. Post race in PA, October 2018. You can tell it was a tad brisk!]
If you’ve never heard the phrase “a strong butt is key to a happy running life”, let me be the first to introduce you to it. An entertaining phrase first coined by Dr. Jordan Metzl, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in New York City.
I first crossed paths with Jordan at a conference he held a few years back called “Running Strong”. It was held along with a panel of other athletes. I had heard him say the phrase before (on TV), but never in person, and never with additional advice on how to train to make you a better runner. I was intrigued.
Last weekend, I was up in Bethlehem, PA for an annual 10K race. I try to make it there each year to see friends. After the 10k, Jordan held a seminar in the auditorium of the Arts Quests center to share his knowledge on running. I’ve attended a couple of Jordan’s #IronStrength classes in New York City. They are free o’charge to the public, and you can find the dates and how to register by clicking on drjordanmetzl.com. He’s even been known to do a “fitness throw down” with teaching classes inside the United Nations. (I was unable to get into that class, but the pictures were a scream).
Proper form was the key message I got from Saturday’s seminar. Keeping the strain off of your back & knees with proper foot strike, running form, core work & with weight training would make you a better runner, and also help keep you off of the injured list. (Jordan had suggestions too, if you became injured. As well as he offered his business cards to everyone attending).
Dr. Metzl explained he’d seen patients anywhere from ages 8-80+ who wanted to continue to run. Staying healthy and keeping up with moving through fitness was something he supports, and this was music to my ears. I’ll also add I belong to a gym frequented by many retired professional athletes. Probably three of the most amazing examples I can think of are Hal Higdon, George Hirsch & Amby Burfoot. These three have kept fitness rolling & they’re all over 70.
Hal regularly goes to the gym with his wife and you will find him circulating the weight room or beach at a speed similar to someone half his age. I’ve seen him at my gym.
Amby ran the 2018 Boston Marathon (even in the heinous weather conditions). I don’t need to say anything else about how amazing that is. If you’ve never met Amby, he enjoys motivating runners, and is nothing but a positive vibe. His wife Cristina is also a runner, & ran Boston as well (Amby won Boston in 1968). Can you imagine? Winning Boston? I still haven’t qualified.
[Amby Burfoot, myself, & George Hirsch (picture taken by Amby’s wife, Cristina, the day before the 2018 Boston Marathon)]
George was at the start of the Onward Shay marathon last year, mingling with his girlfriend Loretta. Onward Shay was created in memory of his deceased wife Shay who passed several years ago. The entire community supported this race, & George has continuous support from Shay’s friends to keep it rolling. The race is a week before the NYC marathon & includes a 1 mile race, a 5K, a10K, half & full marathon, & a relay marathon. If you’re reading this and want to market your business in Boise, or suggest to your employer that they do, your best contact is Keith Hughes with Vertical Endurance (Find him on LinkedIn).
[Pic is pre-race to the 2017 Onward Shay, George is in the knit hat]
All three men (as well as Jordan) are great examples of staying active. None of them have ever stopped their fitness.
Getting back to the seminar, one exercise Dr. Metzl recommended last weekend is the Plie Squat. To keep the strain off of your back & stay strong. Maintaining a healthy core is key, too. I love weight training exercises & weight train 2-3 days a week. In my own training, I’ll do.a plié squat with a 10-25 lb. weight. The proper form with this exercise is having your feet in the second “ballet position” (feet turned slightly out), which will open the hip flexors. Bending your knees and holding the weight with both hands in plié fashion will work the glutes. Down & up once, and there you have a rep. I like 20 reps for one set, and do a total of 3 sets per weight training session. (I’ll attach a picture of one position of a plié squat from a magazine photo shoot 3 years ago. I weighed 3 lbs. less, yes, just 3)
(Shot taken by my phone off of my computer. Unedited from 2015 demonstrating 1 position of the plié squat.)
Other forms of weight training to keep your “butt in check” would include straight leg deadlifts, regular squats and also lunges. It’s a good idea to consult a doctor before beginning any weight training or exercise routine. I also recommend meeting with a trainer who can look at your form. If you’re new to weight training, it’s best to start with the correct form.
The goal is to keep fit forever, and avoid injuries. If you get injured, by all means consult a doctor and take time off. If it means pulling out of a race or contest, so be it. Races and body building or bikini fitness contests will still be there in a couple of months. If you need time offf, it’s better to show up at your best.