Running like you stole something!!

Running like you stole something...

It’s that time of year! No, not “The Holidays”….. RUNNING SEASON! There’s a crispness to the air and the protective dark envelope of the time change and every day another client shows up excitedly talking about doing a half marathon (or 20) or trying their hand at a marathon. Now, we all know I am a runner. Actually it is probably the label I have identified with for the longest. I believe that everyone can run and that running will not actually “blow out your knees one day.” That is, unless….

So here’s the thing: Most average runners don’t have great form. This is for a variety of reasons and, ironically, generally the slower the runner the worse the form. Imagine you see this in the gym…

Bad Running Form

And this guy did this for an hour or so several days a week and then for two hours or more on a weekend day…. Like just how the bad form runner trains. It’s exactly the same. Bad form repeated is a recipe for injury, be it a squat, a deadlift, or a running gait. Make sense? Don’t despair! I’m not saying don’t run just because you can’t peel off perfect 6 min miles. But here are some tips to keep you injury free… and maybe even improve your form (and pace)!

1. Don’t give up strength training to add more running! Bad form is largely related to tightness and weakness in certain muscles. That will not magically get better by continuing to run. You MUST have a varied strength routine that addresses lateral movement, core, upper body strength, and single leg specific work…. All with good form! You will be better off to keep your strength days (at least 2 a week) and turn them into 45-60 min of strength followed by a hard 2 mile run than to do another 6-8 miles of bad running.

2. Flexibility! There is tons of info about static versus dynamic stretching and how holding stretches reduces performance blah, blah, blah. If you are training to compete in the Olympics, this might matter for you. But for everyone else, just stretch (with good form). I prefer a dynamic flexibility routine because it elevates the heart rate a little, challenges strength, and helps ME feel more ready. Here is a video that has my favorite routine. Dynamic Flexibility (click the title)

3. Running a Marathon is NOT a great plan for losing weight. I know it seems crazy but this is not the time to restrict calories and expect that you will become tight and toned. You won’t. Long runs are crazy taxing on the body. You can’t eat enough calories beforehand to keep your body from burning itself. (Another reason why it is soooo important to maintain your strength routine.) This burning through of stored glycogen- if not managed with proper post run nutrition- will lead to cravings and excess consumption of carbohydrates. So eat BEFORE your long runs. Eat more than toast. And eat again after; a complete breakfast with fat and protein, like eggs and bacon, and carbohydrates from sources like sweet potato or pumpkin. I like this recipe for pre-run!

4. Whatever you do, don’t compare running plans! Every body is different. I thrive on higher mileage (even though it makes me flabby and weaker). Mark easily broke 4 hrs in his first marathon at the age of 40 running no more than 4 days a week. Low mileage, high mileage—it’s all individual. When I write plans, some people are on a 10 day cycle with a cut back week every four weeks. Others have speed work every week on a 7 day cycle. The only consistent feature is that only a small percentage of miles has pace expectations. The rest is easy and fun.

I could go on and on. I treat hurt runners ALL the time and the fixes are really easy tweaks. Running is the greatest sport. It’s easy, cheap, fun, and there’s always something new going on. You CAN run healthy but you HAVE to run smart! Good Luck this season and let us know how we can help!