This Sunday* I will be running the Berkeley Half Marathon. With the race only several days away, its time to take a look back on my training and plan ahead for the race. Today I'll talk about key things to consider in the final week before the race. I also recommend you check out my articles on mental preparation and nutrition.
Having decided on a training plan and other things for a half marathon, my next focus was what the cross training will be. My two big focuses in cross training will be developing a strong core and gaining some explosiveness.
A strong, stabilized core is crucial to proper running technique. Explosive workouts are helpful because they are a way to gain some speed and strength without having to run additional miles. Such workouts are also helpful to reduce risk of injury
Let's get one thing out of the way, right now. Yes, I am doing an abs focused workout once a week. But no, it won't help my running in any meaningful way. It will, however, help feed my vanity- which is all of my reason to do it. Embarking on a training program activates a greater sense of discipline, which I am also using to assuage my vanity on the side.
Having decided to run the Berkeley Half Marathon in late November last week,* there were a series of considerations to get started that had to be made. I thought it would be quite helpful to any runner to have a coach's perspective on what the first steps are when deciding to run a race. This is a quick look at my thought process and how I'd quickly make a custom training plan for myself.
Michael Boyle, the creator of functional training, is a genius. Sadly, he hates running, but I think we can all find compassion for him despite that. As the developer of functional training, he has pioneered the concept of training geared to a purpose- applying functional anatomy to training. In doing so, he has given us another major tool to help with injuries. Or as he calls it, injury reduction.
Most runners, including me, have a bad tendency to overuse some muscles while underusing others. The most common version of this, also including me, is a tendency to overuse to quads and to ignore the glutes and hamstrings.
Thankfully, I have quite exciting news about this unfortunate dilemma: its pretty easy to fix!
I'll go into some exercises momentarily to resolve this specific issue, but first let's take a quick look at what running technique should look like when it comes to muscle use and activation. For the sake of brevity, I will do an article purely on muscle activation and running phases in the future, although I highly recommend checking out Brian William's book Running Technique (on Kindle).
You may not know it, but stretching is a really big deal for runners. What's worse is that advice on stretching can get pretty confusing. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there regarding the timing, purpose, and value of stretching (not to mention stretching versus dynamic warmups/warmdowns). Today is all about how pregnant women should approach stretching, but if you'd like the general version check it out here (link).
Here's my take on stretching: if you are going for a run at an easy (conversational) and reasonably consistent pace you absolutely must stretch after a run. If you are pregnant, the stretches need to be modified (and some removed entirely), but it's still crucial to stretch.
For runners, one of the easiest ways to prevent injuries is to strengthen the muscles used in running. In this strength training sequence taken both from one of Jeff Gaudette's strengthening routines and the fabulous Anatomy of Movement series, we develop both deep hip strength and decompression alongside general hip strength.
As you may know from my articles on runner's knee and IT band syndrome, muscle weakness and imbalance is a major cause of knee and hip issues in runners. While good nutrition, a safe training program, well planned hill sprints, adapting your training to what is actually happening, good sleep and other factors are all crucial for training effectively, strengthening programs cannot be forgotten about.
Today's topic centers around the potential training challenges for women in particular. We'll be taking a detailed look at what's known as the female athlete triad- what it is, how to catch it, and what to do about it.
Premenopausal women can face a triad of syndromes when they are training intensively while emphasizing weight loss. Studies involving female athletes in recent years have found a tendency to engage in disordered eating. These are often connected to menstrual irregularities (such as amenorrhea or cessation of menstrual flow). They are also linked with energy drain and osteoporosis.
It may not be a sexy topic, but for any runner intent on improvement, injury prevention, or effective training of any kind, training logs are the way to go. One minute or less of jotting down each day's run can help prevent injuries, personalize training programs, track experiments, provide solace in tough times and satisfaction at other times.
So how do you best make use of training logs?
I often find myself answering the same questions when it comes to taking care of one's body and the best tools to do so. Unfortunately for me, I am not getting paid to tell you about these products. However, these are three tools every runner should have to help prevent injuries and stay loose.
Shoes are one those mysterious and sometimes overwhelming things for runners, especially for those starting out. But even more experienced runners and coaches will are quick to listen if someone they trust has something to say about shoes.
Running footwear is really the only equipment a runner needs. Sure, shorts are useful and choosing a well fitted generally nylon pair of shorts goes a long way. As for shirts, I'm of the school that it's only needed if the weather is pretty cold (although obviously a good sports bra for women goes a long way, but I won't pretend to be qualified on that topic).
When coming into a shoe store, there are 8 major considerations a runner should keep in mind. My thanks goes to The Runner's Repair Manual by Dr. Murray F. Weisenfeld with Barbara Burr for this fabulous checklist. The book goes more in depth of course, but these are the highlights.
This week I have something a little different. Lisa Hamilton, a fellow blogger at consciousrunner.com, recently interviewed me for her weekly podcast episodes. We talked about running with the mind of mindfulness and meditation, knowing when to push and when to back off, being in the zone, and more!
Check it out at http://consciousrunner.com/cr013-running-with-the-mind-of-mindfulness-meditation/
This post comes now because I could have fallen into this trap myself very recently. It can be dangerous as even an experienced runner to provide your own coaching because its very hard to be a good coach to yourself. For me this was ramping up my training load and quickly realizing the plan was far too aggressive. For overtraining, catching yourself early is crucial for quick recovery and preventing injuries before they happen.
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