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Article originally published by Competitor.com and reposted here with their permission.

Retain your running fitness with this simple exercise.

Everyone knows that when you can’t run due to injury, the next best thing is to cross-train.

But no matter how much cross-training you do, nothing will ever replace running. The pounding associated with running is difficult to replicate (and it’s probably what got you injured in the first place).

When you do a workout with excessive pounding—meaning more than your body has already been conditioned to handle—the pounding tends to break down muscle tissue and your legs literally begin to fill with garbage. A great example of this is what you experience in your first 20-miler of the season. At some point blood cells burst, capillaries leak, muscle fibers stretch and snap while trying to contract—you get the picture.

As you run more miles, your body adapts and is able to handle more and more pounding. But if you stop running for a long period of time, you begin to lose your ability to handle it.

So when you’re injured, the $40,000 question becomes, what’s the best way to replicate the pounding of running without aggravating the injury?

Luckily, this year I found a simple exercise that I believe helps answer this question.

A few years ago, I came down with tendinitis in my knee. To maintain my cardiovascular fitness, I continued to cross-train with bike rides, stairmaster workouts, and hours in the pool.

But to help me maintain my eccentric strength—my ability to handle pounding—my coach suggested an exercise that requires a step stool and some weights. (Be sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist before you try any weight training exercise while you’re injured.) Holding 20 pounds—I weigh 120 pounds, so adjust accordingly—I would step up on to the stool and slowly rise all the way onto my five toes, using my glute, quad, hamstring and calf to propel me upward. You want to step up slow enough so that you activate all of the muscles involved in stepping up—if you cheat and pop up too quickly or use your other leg to assist you, you won’t get everything you can out of the exercise. Then, I would lower myself down even more slowly—counting to four as I did so—until my knee was as close to 90 degrees as I could manage.

The key to the exercise is the slow downward movement.

I’d repeat that 10 times and then switch legs.

I believe the exercise helped me maintain a surprisingly high level of running fitness during my bout with tendinitis. I know this because the end of my tendinitis struggle coincided with me toeing the line at the Vineman Half Ironman that summer. Except for three 10Ks at the end of three triathlons, I had done almost no running over the preceding five months. But after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 54, I figured I might as well experiment with how much pounding my body could handle on the half marathon portion of Vineman.

Surprisingly, I was able to cope with 10 miles of hard running before the garbage building up in my muscles got too toxic and my legs gave out on me. Needless to say, I was extremely happy with the result. In fact, I wonder what the result would have been if I had worked up to three sets of 10 step-ups like my coach had recommended.

In case you’re wondering, although I’m tendinitis free, I’m still doing those step-ups.

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Courtney Baird is a freelance writer and editor based in southern California. 

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.

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This vibrant summer salad goes well with just about any entrée. Be sure to get ultra-fresh beans and corn and blanch them just long enough to tenderize them and bring out their color. If you are available, use salt-cured black olives, which provide the best complement to the crisp vegetables.

Green Bean Salad with Corn, Basil, and Black Olives

Servings: 8 

Total cost per serving: $0.88

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beans, green
  • 3 ears corn
  • ½ small pepper, red, bell
  • 1 small onion, red
  • 2/3 cup olives, black
  • 1/3 cup basil, fresh
  • ¼ cup oil, olive, extra-virgin
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar, balsamic
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Fill another large pot half full with ice water. Blanch about half the green beans in the boiling water just until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  2. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the ice water. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining beans.
  3. Return the water to a boil. Add corn and blanch until tender but still crisp, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water. Cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Add the corn to the beans in the bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, olives, basil, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic; toss to mix well. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories, 155
  • Saturated Fat, 1 g
  • Sodium, 147 mg
  • Dietary Fiber, 5 g
  • Total Fat, 9 g
  • Carbs, 17 g
  • Cholesterol, 0 mg
  • Protein, 3 g

 

Recipe originally published by Everyday Health and reposted here with their permission.

This vibrant summer salad goes well with just about any entrée. Be sure to get ultra-fresh beans and corn and blanch them just long enough to tenderize them and bring out their color. If you are available, use salt-cured black olives, which provide the best complement to the crisp vegetables.

Green Bean Salad with Corn, Basil, and Black Olives

Servings: 8 

Total cost per serving: $0.88

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beans, green
  • 3 ears corn
  • ½ small pepper, red, bell
  • 1 small onion, red
  • 2/3 cup olives, black
  • 1/3 cup basil, fresh
  • ¼ cup oil, olive, extra-virgin
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar, balsamic
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Fill another large pot half full with ice water. Blanch about half the green beans in the boiling water just until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  2. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the ice water. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining beans.
  3. Return the water to a boil. Add corn and blanch until tender but still crisp, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water. Cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Add the corn to the beans in the bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, olives, basil, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic; toss to mix well. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories, 155
  • Saturated Fat, 1 g
  • Sodium, 147 mg
  • Dietary Fiber, 5 g
  • Total Fat, 9 g
  • Carbs, 17 g
  • Cholesterol, 0 mg
  • Protein, 3 g

Recipe originally published by Everyday Health and reposted here with their permission.

Giving isn’t just a good feeling, it can be good for you! We’re happy to share a new healthy way to spend your Vitality Bucks® in the HumanaVitality® Mall: charitable donations. You can now spend your Vitality Bucks®  on select charities that make a real difference.  Every donation counts! Visit the HumanaVitality Mall to donate to one of these great charities:

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Members of HumanaVitality have the opportunity to donate their Vitality Bucks to the fight against cancer with the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sixty years ago, 1 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survived. Today, thanks in part to the work of the ACS, 2 out of 3 will survive. There are two charity options available in the HumanaVitailty Mall to donate with the American Cancer Society:

  • Clinical Trial Matching Service: For every donation made, ACS will help connect 10 people to clinical trials through the ACS clinical trials matching service
  • ACS Guide: For every donation made, ACS will help guide a woman facing breast cancer through every step of her journey

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Feeding America’s mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

  • Feeding America Donation: For every donation you make, Feeding America secures and distributes nine (9) meals on behalf of local food banks.

Here is a breakdown of the donation amounts for each Vitality Status™:

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Supporting a charity[1] through the HumanaVitality Mall is easy and helps raise funds for two causes that are dedicated to helping others. Consider donating your Vitality Bucks to help change a life!

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product.



[1] Important Tax Deduction Information
Your donation to the American Cancer Society may be eligible for a $10.00 or $25.00 charitable tax deduction for each quantity donated.  Feeding America donations may be eligible for a $10.00 charitable deduction on your taxes for each quantity donated. Typically you can only claim a deduction if your company also taxed your Vitality Bucks redemption as income. Please speak with your tax advisor to determine if you can claim this contribution as a deduction.

Article originally published by WomensRunning.com and reposted here with their permission.

Running a half marathon seemed like a fun idea when your friend talked you into it a few months ago. But now that it’s time to hit the road, you may be wondering what you got yourself into. Don’t worry. Getting to that start line may be daunting, but it’s not as tough as it seems.

If you’ve got the will (and 14 weeks!), we’ve got the way. Whether you’re new to running or you’re coming back from an extended break, our half-marathon program will safely ease you into training and get you race-ready a few short months.

Get Moving!
This training plan requires no more than four days of running or walking per week. Try to stay on track and avoid big increases in your weekly mileage so you don’t get injured or discouraged. Your first few weeks will include run/walk workouts to safely and comfortably build your endurance. By Week 4, you can make the switch from run/walk to run. If you feel like you’re not ready, continue to take walking breaks. It’s completely fine to use a run/walk strategy throughout your entire training and even on race day. Your goal should be to finish the race—regardless of what it takes to get there.

TRAINING KEY

 Easy Runs (ER): Perform these runs at a comfortable, conversational pace. If you find yourself huffing and puffing, slow down.

 Run/Walk (R/W): Alternate between running and walking. Perform your walk intervals at a brisk pace, so it’s not too difficult to transition back to running. Try alternating between oneminute of walking and oneminute of running. If this feels too easy, increase the amount of time you run. If it’s too difficult, walk for longer. Once you find a ratio that works best for you, gradually increase your running intervals and decrease your walking intervals each week.

Walks (W): You’ll walk some of your miles so you can safely build your fitness, but keep a brisk pace.

Tempo Runs (TR): Tempo runs build your confidence and improve your speed. They should be performed at a “comfortably hard” pace—faster than your easy runs, but not so tough so that you’re breathing heavily. Start your temp runs with a warm-up mile of easy running and finish with a relaxed cool-down mile.

Cross Training (XT):Incorporate one or two days of non-impact cross-training, such as cycling, elliptical, swimming and yoga into your routine to build your fitness and prevent injuries.

Strength Training (ST): Perform 20 minutes of lower body and core strengthening exercises (pushups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, etc.).

14-WEEK PLAN

Week 1:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: R/W 2 miles
Wednesday: XT 30 min
Thursday: R/W 2 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: R/W 3 miles
Sunday: W 2 miles

Week 2:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: R/W 3 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 30 min
Thursday: R/W 2 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: R/W 3 miles
Sunday: W 2 miles

Week 3:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: R/W 3 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 30 min
Thursday: R/W 2 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: R/W 3 miles
Sunday: W 2 miles

Week 4:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 2 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 30 min
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 4 miles
Sunday: W 3 miles

Week 5:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 3 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 5 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 6:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 3 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 6 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 7:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: ER 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 7 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 8:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 8 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 9:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 45 min
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday: XT 30 min or Rest
Saturday: ER 9 miles
Sunday: R/W 4 miles

Week 10:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday: XT 30 min or Rest
Saturday: ER 10 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 11:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 min
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday: XT 30 min or Rest
Saturday: ER 10 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 12:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 minutes
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 11 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 13:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday: XT 40 minutes
Thursday: ER 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 6 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 14:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: ER 2 miles
Sunday: Half marathon!

W = Walk at a brisk pace
ER = Run at an easy, conversational pace
R/W = Easy run with walk intervals
TR = Tempo run
XT= Cross train
ST= Strength train

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.

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This is how our Test Kitchen Manager’s mom prepares her just-picked zucchini. Simple and delicious, the almost caramelized zucchini are topped with a Parmesan crust. Serve Mary’s zucchini like a wedge of pizza, straight from the pan, with the cheese-side up.

Zucchini with Parmesan
Servings: 4
Total cost per serving: $2.01

 Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoon oil, olive, extra-virgin
  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, black ground
  • ½ cup cheese, shredded Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add zucchini and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and most of the slices are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Serve warm

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 82
  • Saturated Fat 1 g
  • Sodium 204 mg
  • Dietary Fiber 3 g
  • Total Fat 5 g
  • Carbs 8 g
  • Cholesterol 5 mg
  • Protein 5 g

Recipe originally published by Everyday Health and reposted here with their permission.