Why would a Wookiee ever want to run a marathon? To feel the wind in his hair? Make a few new friends? To check it off his bucket list?
Many of us have thought about running a marathon. For some of us the thought is an easy “yes” or “no,” while for others they might need a little more time to consider. But have you ever thought of running a marathon as Chewbacca? I was recently approached on the hill by Chewie and asked to train him for an upcoming marathon here in the District. Despite having worked with a broad range of individuals from Olympic caliber athletes to soccer mom’s and their children, it was a first for me.
We started the loveable “Fuzzball’s” training program the same way I always have, with a detailed training program looking at 5 key aspects. Chewie’s goals are to, “have fun, raise funds to fight cancer and not limp across the finish line.” He does not have a finish time in mind – he’d rather high-five the cheering crowds along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for a picture with Chewbacca if you see him. The wookiee’s program includes:
Foam Roller and Active Dynamic Warm-up (ADW)
Foam rolling (not a Wookiee’s favorite) consists of rolling out certain muscle groups on a foam roller. This is great for promoting and maintaining optimal physical health, such as: improving blood circulation, lengthening muscles, tendons & ligaments and promoting optimal range of motion.
After utilizing the foam roller, Chewie performs an ADW for no longer than 15 minutes where he holds each stretch for only a brief period of time to warm up the body and prepare him for the upcoming workout.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are Chewie’s running days. We picked these days as it works best in his schedule. Tuesdays consist of speed days where Chewie will be running at a faster pace doing a certain number of sets in the range of 400 to 1600 meter runs holding a 10K to 15K pace. An occasional fast 5K will be thrown in there once or twice as I’m a believer that the faster Chewie is and feels, the more comfortable he’ll be out on the course (he is not going for time, but for enjoyment). Thursdays are Chewie's tempo running days and Saturdays are his longer runs.
Lifting 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays is critical, especially since he’s put on an additional 20+ pounds “lately.” One of Chewie’s upcoming strength training workouts includes Bulgarian split squats, Romanian deadlifts, dumbbell alternate bench press, pull-ups, dumbbell one-arm one-leg rows, rotator cuff exercises and core.
Chewie uses daily post workout stretches encompassing PNF (Proprio Neuromuscular Facilitation) and static stretching to help increase and maintain muscle elasticity, increase muscular strength and power, and increase athletic performance while helping to prevent injuries.
Nutrition and Recovery
We all know that recovery, including sleep, is essential (even for wookiees). By looking at daily life activities and stresses, in addition to how Chewie is feeling throughout the week we can evaluate his program. Sleeping 8-10 hours each night enables Chewie to feel and perform at his best. Living a busy and active life on the Hill does not always allow Chewy to get as much sleep as he would like. It’s about listening to his body and knowing the health and performance downsides, then weighing what he really wants and keeping in mind the moderation aspect.
Through an individualized approach, looking at Chewbacca’s signs and symptoms, we have found what works for him based upon his ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Several years back, Chewie used to consume ibuprofen before, during and after long runs because his knees and joints ached. Now that we have dialed in his nutrition by consuming anti-inflammatory foods – mostly colorful vegetables and fruits (lots of them!), nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish, good healthy fats and proteins, fermented foods, herbs and spices, Chewie is off the painkillers and feeling years younger.
You can see Chewbacca training with Acceleration Sports around Eastern Market and the rest of the Hill in the weeks leading up to the March 12th marathon.
Support Chewie's marathon by donating to help fight cancer today! Not only will your funds go towards this great cause, but with your donation you will give that extra push Chewie needs mentally to complete the monumental task!
PS - Wanting new recipe ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some yummy and creative ideas.
Click here to see this week's blog published in the the March 2016 HillRag!
Hello, my name is Stacy Phillips, licensed Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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