Running into Problems
Spring is here or at least it is starting to feel like it has arrived. Warm weather, birds chirping, and hundreds of out of shape people hitting the streets with their awful running form!
I just don’t understand it! Anyone that has met me or read much of what I write understands that I personally don’t enjoy running. I have nothing against it for those that do enjoy to run, but I couldn’t think of something I really dislike to do more than run.
Sprinting I can handle. Doing something quickly for a short period is great for me! Running for miles and miles just doesn’t get me all revved up like it does for others. I haven’t experienced the runners high that everyone talks about and I don’t ever intend on experimenting with it!
My biggest issue with running is that most everyone views jogging or running as the best way to get into shape. They will go from doing absolutely nothing to running a few miles. No preparation, no planning, just go out and run. What kind of sense does that make?
If you had a car that sat around in your yard for a few years with no oil change, bald tires, needs alignment and good tune up with a knock in the engine would you just jump in it and take it across country on a road trip?
I am hoping that the answer is no! If you have any sense at all the answer should be no!
I then ask why would you do the same thing to your body? Just jump up off the couch to run a few miles? It is the same thing.
If you do plan to run or are entered in a 5k, 10k or some other insanely long distance race (Disclaimer: I consider anything over 400 meters to be insanely long distance.) do yourself a favor and have a plan to get in shape to run the race.
Hint: This plan should not include running a few miles day.
I am not going to claim that I am the one that should come up with your plan. I know of about 100 other people better qualified than myself to set you up with a training program for a race. I could go and find the information for you but I would go to one of the people I trust to do that sort of thing.
I can however give you my two sense on what you should be doing to prepare you body for the race:
1) You should start out gradually. If you have not been doing any running or activity at all in the past 2-3 months you should start by walking a brisk walk (a speed at which you are just below hitting job) for 15 minutes. You should track your distance traveled in 15 minutes. Perform this workout 3 times per week and your goal is to travel a further distance each time you perform the workout. (This comes from the book “Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferris. It was a tool that is used to train elite athletes that break national and world records. I think it might be good enough for you!)
2) After you have completed 2-3 weeks of the previous workout you have developed the foundation to start your running workouts. Personally I would favor doing two sprint workouts each week with one longer distance workout. If I were racing I would never actually run the distance that I would be racing. If it was for fitness or enjoyment I would probably never run more than a mile.
The sprint workouts would start with short sprints (20-50 meteres) with a long rest period. Each week I would gradually reduce the rest periods as I was in better shape or increase the volume (sets of runs completed). I would do one workout with longer sprints (150-400 meters) with long rest periods and then decrease rest or increase volume as my conditioning got better.
The long workout for the week would take place on a weekend and be used as a recovery. It might start at ½ mile and then progress to 1 mile.
This plan all depends on the length of your race.
3) I would incorporate a minimum of 2 strength workouts per week. The focus of the strength workouts should be on the posterior chain (butt and hamstrings) to balance out all of the forward motion that you will be doing with your running. The workouts will be in the 3-8 rep range with 3-5 sets of each exercise. They should be fast paced and brief.
The focus is on developing strength in your muscles and connective tissue. If you are an intermediate or advanced fitness person we may include some light plyometric exercises to teach you to absorb loads.
4) Stabilization core work should be done every day for a minimum of 10 minutes. Don’t think crunches and sit ups! No leg raises either! This is all about stability and stability under motion. Planks and their variations and any exercise that has your resisting rotation will be key in this program. See our core training posts for good movements to included.
5) A proper warm up is key. The warm up should activate muscles and prepare the body for what it is about to go through. Running for a little bit a slower pace is not a good warm up. You should start with mobility drills, move to activation drills, then progress into more dynamic and formed running drills for about 15 minutes prior to your run or workout.
6) Foam rolling your T-spine, glutes/hips, IT Band, hip flexors and quads will be key in keeping you healthy!
That is a brief overview of what you should do if you are planning on running to get into shape.
I am going to leave you with this thought:
When running you will absorb forces equivilant to 2x your body weight. These forces are applied to your joints and muscles. In a mile run you will likely take 1500 strides. Would you squat or lunge 2x your body weight for 1500 reps in the gym the first day you started lifting? Or ever?
Just think about it.