Let’s start with strength training:
I have found that most runners know running. It’s what they love to do and they do it as often as possible. It’s addictive; it’s amazing…I love it, too. I have also found that in general, there are strength-training people: They are all about weight training but couldn’t care less about cardiovascular training. There are cardio/ endurance people: They believe that weight training isn’t for them.
The truth is; in order to have a healthy body, you must train to avoid imbalances. Imbalance equals injury. If you want to keep running you must also do some functional strength training to maintain balance in your muscles. Secondary to injury prevention, you will also find that training your anaerobic system actually helps your running performance. You know that strong, fast kick at the end of your race? If you don’t want a monkey jumping on your back in your final 100 meters, train your anaerobic system!
Strength training essentials for runners
1. Keep your core strong. Your core muscles are all of the muscles of your trunk: Chest, Back, Abs. This is your stability base for running. Think about it…if your back goes out, will you be able to run? Nope.
Exercises: Very basically you should be doing the 3 P’s; pull-ups, push-ups and plank. Start with 3 sets of 10 pull-ups, 3 sets of 20 push-ups and 3 sets of a 30 sec. forearm plank 2-3 times per week.
2. How about functionally working the anaerobic muscles of your legs with some tuck jumps or alternating split stance (lunge) jumps? Try 3 sets of 10 after a short run. A non-plyometric alternative is a dynamic / traveling lunge or dumbbell squats.
3. Your push-ups and pull-ups will work all of the smaller muscle groups like shoulders, biceps and triceps.
Guess what? Your body strives for homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s tendency toward a stable equilibrium. It strives for balance in every biological system. If you keep all of your muscles in your upper, lower body and your fiber types; fast and slow twitch (anaerobic and aerobic) strong; your body will stay in balance and your performance on the track and trail will only benefit.
What about stretching?
I’m sure you know that you should only stretch (static stretch) muscles that are already warm, right? Think about it like taffy: warm taffy stretches, cold taffy breaks. It makes sense, then that you should stretch after a run. Here are some quick stretches to do after your run to help alleviate the tightness in your primary running muscles. By the way, did you know that a muscle has to stretch in order for it to fully contract? If you keep contracting without stretching that “taffy” is going to break. Get the hint? Allow them to stretch so they can contract again. Over contraction, tight muscles, imbalances….oh my! This is a recipe for injury.
Essential stretches for runners:
1. IT Band
3. Calf 2 Soleus/Achilles
5. Hip Flexors
A couple of fantastic tools for runners are a foam roller, to roll out those tight muscles and a massage stick that you can use to warm up your muscles before a run and to massage your muscles after. (I used to use a massage stick on calves and hamstrings of soccer players before and during soccer matches….it made a world of difference in their play!)
In an effort to avoid overly verbose blogginess(yeah, that’s a word), I think I will wait to give you sports nutrition….
Be Fit. Live Your Dream. Wear Your Passion.
Teri Simmons-Crenshaw – CSCS
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