Road Work

One last family photo of some gray babies before hitting the road to CO and NM.

Fifteen minutes shy of nine hours in the car and my first tumbleweed spotting, I made a pit stop at McDo for an iced coffee.  Guess I was still feeling spry because when a gray-bearded 80-something in a wide-brimmed canvas hat, plaid shirt and unlaced work-boots said, “I’ll probably get a black eye, but you look nice;” I quickly replied,”Thanks! So do you!”  Sheepishly he said, “Oh… me… well…” as I high-tailed it to the car to complete the final leg of my solo road trip west.

When I set out on my 12-hour drive, I hit the wall after two hours.  I was yawning uncontrollably and was thinking “How am I going to drive 10 more?!”  Then I commenced my road work challenge.  On the road or at the office, don’t just sit there, work those muscles.  Here are some safe ways to keep you alert and help combat the backache and poor posture induced by sitting hours at a time.

Calf raises (next to my paper Garmin to get me to CO Springs).  When seated you don’t have the body weight to add to this exercise but you can still work it.  Simply lift the heels high and point the toes, flexing the calves.  Try this with toes pointed straight ahead, angled in, and angled outward.  At work this is easy, however in the car be absolutely sure your right foot is ready to hit the brake or gas.  On cruise through the open Nebraska highway, I did seven sets of 50.

Crunches.  Know how you tighten the abdominals when someone is about to step on you?  I know, happens all the time.  It takes next to zero movement and is fantastic for the abs.  Keep your shoulder blades rolled down and back and as you exhale, tighten your abs, basically as hard as you can.  Inhale and release.  Try to do sets of fifty. I did 10 sets of 50. Remember, I had all day.  Even when not doing this exercise still think about keeping a little bit of contraction; be 20% ready for a punch in the gut at all times.

Obliques crunches.  Similar to the straight crunch but now think of taking the bottom of your left ribcage toward your right hip and vice versa.  Again there is not much movement, just a slight twist.  Keep your shoulder blades resting flat against the ribcage; think: down and back to keep them there.  Aim to do sets of 25 to 50 on each side.

Back arches.  Remember to keep abs on 20% and this will support the low back.  Also keep the scapula neutral or lying as flat as possible on the ribcage.  Now, arch the back slightly, sliding those shoulder blades toward your rear.

God’s good grace and these exercises kept me on the road from IA to CO.  They may have even helped stave off the stiffness of a long drive to prep me for the Garden of the Gods 10 mile the next morning.  I managed to eek out 3rd place. Getting an extra high-five from legendary runner and Runner’s World editor Bart Yasso for being the first flatlander was worth the screaming unacclimated lungs.

I love it!  We even have the same shoes 😉 !

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