Today I'd like to keep things simple and give you a useful cue to consider when you're out there practicing running fast. It's especially useful when you're accelerating and something to rely on when you're channeling your inner Usain Bolt.
Recently, I wrapped up a group run with Fairmount Park Conservancy (join us!!) and noticed a friend had dirty scuff marks all over the inner aspect of her calf. The scuff marks are a result of your swing leg foot swiping the stance leg calf as it...
Recent client question: “I was on pace until the last 2.5 miles which is when I slowed down, but I don't think it was because my legs were tired. I guess I just seemed to lose focus or something?”
By far, one of the biggest differences between well-trained runners and wannabes is the competency at a variety of paces. Just like your favorite road bike has lots of different gears to optimize your effort and pace, so should you as a runner.
There's been a ton of focus in recent years on running form. Yet certain aspects of form have gotten WAY more 'press' than others. I'm thinking specifically of footstrike. Forefoot? Mid-foot? Heel strike? Barefoot? Definitely useful to consider, but let's not miss the forest for the trees or overstate it's importance. Today I'd like to draw your attention to all of the various ways rotation is present throughout our body as we walk and run. Or, it's supposed to be.
What are the ideal pre and post-exercise meals for long distance runners in your experience? Can you provide examples of your typical daily breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you support the use of supplements for your students?
These questions are always fun because while I realize a proper strength program would typically be more comprehensive, if we follow the 80/20 rule, about 80% of the results come from 20% of the work. I'd place these moves in the 20%. So, if I HAD to pick 3 strength training exercises for runners, I'd pick...
Today I'd like to share one of my favorite workouts, the 30/30 Tempo Run. It's a versatile, fun fitness building session that you should use nearly year-round. I love that it provides an awesome aerobic boost while addressing leg speed in one session - how time efficient!
Last Monday was two days after the Rothman 8k, my first race in 5 months, and my legs were still sore. While I'm sure I could have gone for a run, I am coming back from injury and didn't want to take any chances.
While typically I enjoy cycling as my preferred mode of cross training, a quick scan of my in-laws retirement village gym revealed a couple of recumbent bikes and these super motivating pictures:
I really wanted to minimize stress on my body yet get my heart rate up into the aerobic training zone. Enter the steep uphill treadmill walk.
These sessions are great for runners returning from impact related injury and, since you're walking, are fairly task specific. PS: If you've got the green light to run and you want to get in a hard session, but you're prone to impact injuries (stress fractures, knee and hip pain), running uphill is fantastic.
Setting the Treadmill
Obviously it depends on what you want to get out of the workout. Normally, I'm looking to achieve the same cardiovascular benefit to a regular training run.
I had my heart rate in the 140s (equivalent to an easy run for me) with the speed at 4.2mph and the incline at 11.5.
Your settings will most likely be different, but I'd recommend bringing the speed up first - likely between 3.5 and 4.5. Walk briskly yet confidently, let your torso rotate (most people do not do this, but should), and arms swing naturally. My client Jerry calls it the drunken sailor walk :-)
(The more injured you are, the slower and steeper you should go.)
Next, bring that incline up until you feel like you're working hard but at a sustainable effort. Check your form - still good? You're not holding on to those handlebars, now, are you?
You should feel like you're leaning into it and that the console is a few inches from your face, and that's ok!
Now, to really dial it in, check your heart rate. It's ok to hold the handlebars at this point if you don't have a HR monitor - just don't grip tightly and lean back. If it's at the desired level, great. If not, adjust the incline up or down.
Who Should NOT Do This?
Anyone with Achilles' tendon problems, plantar fasciosis, ankle or big toe flexibility issues might want to avoid this type of session unless they speak with a qualified professional first. Seriously, a LOT of people have ankle restrictions, so assess yourself first.
Finally, a quick personal anecdote....
One of the craziest races I've run was the 2005 Mt Washington Auto Road Race in New Hampshire. It's only 7.6 miles and there's only one hill. But it's a 7.5 mile hill and average incline of 11.5%! Take your half marathon time and that's about how long it will take you to run those 7+ miles.
Once a week I'd hop on the treadmill and crank it up to 11.5% and run progressively farther. I built up to 45 min because that's about all I could take. The sweat I generated was insane, the friggin console was in my face so I couldn't see anything, but I was IN SHAPE.
So give "steep uphilling" a shot if you want to try something different, but effective! You'll find it interesting that you won't even be sore after these sessions because there's very little impact with uphill running.
Have you tried this before? Got any tips you'd like to share?
Wondering why that tight muscle is always tight? After a massage you feel great …then the tightness returns. Why is that?
Today I'd like to share a race strategy with you that will make high school cross country coaches everywhere cringe: letting people pass you on the uphill.
You go to check your pace on the watch you paid $200-400 for and you sort of expect it to give you accurate information. Well, temper your expectations. There are several reasons as to why the GPS will be “off” in both pace and distance, yet I don't think they're worthless. Here's how to sort things out...
Strides are a “need to do, not a nice to do” as coach Vern Gambetta likes to say. Yet, in my experience, people aren't doing them and they're such an easy and convenient way to develop speed.
What does an effective speed workout for distance runners look like? What ingredients should you include so that you reap the most benefit for the time you're spending?
One of my go-to bulletproofing exercises is the deadlift. With so many benefits from posture to hip mobility to force production (makes ya faster) to total body strength, it's a no-brainer if you're gonna spend any time in the weight room. But, before lifting anything, she had to demonstrate the “hip hinge” movement pattern.
Rest. It's what the doctor ordered, right? You're hurt and the glaringly obvious solution is to rest. What doc is trying to say is that you should take a rest from the activity that is causing the injury. If running is hurting you, then stop running and let it heal. This does NOT (necessarily) mean stop training.
That feeling of “holy crap I'm in a race and I'm already sucking wind and I'm not even at the 1 mile mark yet” used to be pretty familiar to me. Let's fix that, OK?
Typically used as part of a good warm up, practicing the “ankling” drill will teach you how to be stiff at the right time and how to react off the ground properly.
Think about your current method (if you can call it that) of warming up. Perhaps you bend over and strrrrrretch to tie those shoes and then off you go? I think we can do better. This week I want to share a very simple warm up that carries with it several benefits like better muscle activation, range of motion, and potential injury prevention.
While talking with each of them I could sense their frustration, but luckily for them I've learned that taking a good client history is key to a good intervention. And in each case it was a simple fix that resolved their issue. In fact, you'll probably roll your eyes as you read the solution. (Well, this one isn't THAT obvious, but I bet many of you can relate.) Not Getting Any Faster? Here's Why.