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Finish-Line-Full-HD-Image-2Many of our runcoach athletes enjoy running for general fitness, and ongoing general fitness is absolutely an important result of a regular running program.  However, it should not be underestimated how helpful a specific goal or goal race can be to a new runner, an enthusiastic experienced runner, and one for whom running has become stale.

 

Setting a goal….keeps you organized

Marking a goal race date on the calendar can often have the secondary effect of helping us order the rest of our lives.  Not sure when best to vacation and have flexibility to choose?  Now you are probably inclined to wait until just after the big race.  Not sure where you want to run on the weekend?  Now you are only selecting routes that are conducive to the long run or other workout needed, and have a much less overwhelming series of choices.  Training with a goal might motivate a runner to call that running buddy who has been a great workout partner in the past but seldom connected with in the current moment, and give you  a built in reason for the call.   A goal race can also help you choose the intermediary efforts along the way – instead of the half marathon that happens to be 2 weeks out from a goal marathon, you’ll choose the one 5 or 6 weeks out and you’ll know why (and won’t doubt yourself).

 

Setting a goal….keeps you motivated

Even the most faithful of trainees is at least tempted now and again to diverge from their training schedule.  When you have a date on the schedule, sometimes that little extra motivation to perform well on that specific task can help dissuade you from the excuse making.  Conversely, when you have a goal that carries a bit of weight, finishing and health become of primary importance.  You’ll be more likely to stay hydrated, stretch regularly, and ice any aches and pains.  You might then be less likely to skip a needed day off, slog through a workout at suboptimal pace, run when sick, etc.  When you know you are shooting for your best, you become more guarded about optimizing every workout.

 

Setting a goal….keeps running fresh

A regular routine can be comforting to new and seasoned runners, and if you have completed several races, it is easy to have the “been there, done that” feeling.  Fortunately, we live in an amazing era of diverse racing opportunities.  Setting a goal that forces you to “drive” outside of your typical lane, can help focus your mind on the new challenge, increase daily motivation, and help you learn and appreciate more about your body’s capabilities, perhaps in ways you had previously discounted or had not considered.



Setting a goal…helps you grow as a runner

If you have had problems staying on track in times past, setting a goal might have been scary because the commitment required felt risky or your routine is like a warm, comfortable sweater.  If you love 5Ks and 10Ks, doing a longer race might not turn you into a marathoner, but might just help you succeed further at your shorter efforts.  Conversely, a runner with a typically high volume or who enjoys longer races, might return to them with a bit more speed if a training cycle focused on a goal 5K or 10K every so often.

 

Beyond these reasons, setting a goal also allows your friends and family to enjoy your running with you.  A goal race is understandable and relatable even to those who don’t run regularly.  It provides clarity and understanding for how much running has meant to you when that enthusiasm is expressed through searchable results.  It also provides a great opportunity to get a friend or family member to set their own goal alongside yours, and reminds them how persistence is key to seeing those long term goals realized.

 



For all the athletes we see sign up for races, set goals, follow through with their training and succeed, there are still others who are held back from taking the all important first step.  Often, what prevents these individuals are fears that may not be well founded. Don’t let these common fears stand in your way!

 

I wasn’t an athlete growing up

Mildly traumatic memories of being the last one picked on the playground or sitting on the bench in youth soccer might sting, and leave runners with a sense that they were not cut out for sports.  This is not an uncommon road to running.  Many competitive runners turned to the sport after realizing their gifts lay elsewhere from ball sports or team games.  Furthermore, the fable of the tortoise and the hare is seared into our memory for a reason.  Persistence is an indispensable character trait for distance running.  Many athletic people with tons of talent have fallen short of their goals as well.  Talent and ability aren’t much without persistence.  If you already have that grit, you have the biggest variable already on board.

 

I don’t look like a runner

A generation ago, the demographics of runners were much more homogenous.  There were far fewer opportunities for new runners and those who endeavored just to complete the task.  This is no longer the case.  While Olympians might be somewhat birds of a feather in terms of body types, the millions of others completing races in the US and around the world tell us otherwise.  The important thing to focus on is what your body can do rather than what it looks like.  You are a functional device, and perhaps a more amazingly functional device than you could ever imagine.  Focus on what you can do, and you might even surprise yourself.

 

I’ve never even run one mile straight

At one point, neither had any of us! Running is a rewarding pursuit for many reasons, but a huge one is that it provides countless opportunities for intermediate goals along your road to your big race.  Running is about a positive mindset, and that confidence is a big factor.  If you progress sensibly, what seemed long will eventually seem mundane.  Integrating walking breaks between a few minutes of running at a time is one time honored way to progress to a longer distance.  What was once 1 minute of running alternating with four minutes of walking can become 2 run / 3 walk, 3 run / 2 walk, and 4 run, 1 walk before you know it. Although it might take a little while, if you make incremental progress and give yourself proper recovery, you will eventually make it.  You just need the courage to try.

 

Nobody I know runs

If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?  Running toward an endurance goal is not easy, but when you follow through and complete your goal, you set an invaluable example for family members or friends who may have thought you crazy for even trying.  Running can be a great social activity if you have others to run with, and if you think you might enjoy that, try your local running store.  Many stores have weekly informal training runs which fit well into your runcoach schedule.  Meeting others training for a big goal can help you feel as though you aren’t alone with your body’s quirks, nervousness, or occasionally wavering confidence.  Likewise, if you are the only one in the house who runs, flip the script and consider not how little people share your experience, but how you can share it with them.  Encouraging others to run with you makes you accountable for how your training is going and can often help spur an athlete to take greater ownership over the road to success.  More importantly, it can often make a crucial difference for a loved one who could benefit from improved fitness.

 

In short, none of us look or feel that great in the 25th mile of a marathon.  After 26.2, the feeling of elation and the amazement about what the human body can accomplish wash over us in a much more indelible way and the memory of the difficult 25th mile begins to recede.  When we focus on what we can do, what we can accomplish, what we have the ability to accomplish based on our insides rather than our outsides, we get farther.  Take a chance on yourself and seize the opportunity to enjoy a finishing feeling of your very own.

 

 



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The ranks of aging runners are swelling, and the growth of these numbers shows no signs of slowing down.  According to Running USA’s 2013 State of the Sport Report, runners 35 and older made up more than half of the timed US race finishers in 2012, with over 25% of finishers 45 years old and over. Not only are the ranks growing, but the role models in the over 40 demographic are flying the flag well.  Meb’s win and personal best in Boston at age 38, Deena Kastor running 1:11 for the half marathon as a 40+ athlete in April, even Joan Samuelson running 2:52 in her late 50s – our running heroes of 10, 20, even 30 years ago aren’t retiring.  So, why should we?  The age of the masters and veteran athlete is upon us.

 

A generation ago, or maybe not even that many years back, runners were cautioned about the perils of years and years of tread worn off the tires.  Would our bodies fail us?  Would running be a good idea for the long term?  It is easy to see the long term runner as an anomaly who is just trapped in their own habits, but a 2008 study by the Stanford School of Medicine found running brings many health benefits.  Researchers tracked 538 runners over the age of 50 (and a similar sized group of non runners) and found that 21 years later, the runners had a lower mortality rate, later onset of disability, and enjoyed (generally predictable) cardiovascular benefits in addition to greater avoidance of  (perhaps much less predictable) neurological ailments, infections, and other potentially life threatening problems.

 

In addition to these findings, another Stanford study drawing from a separate subset of 50+ runners found that over the a similar period, runners who maintained the habit had no greater risk of knee osteoarthritis than non-runners, a great encouragement for all of us who have already put in decades of time on the roads and trails.

 

Certainly, not every runner is blessed with a pitfall-free path to running in the golden years, and not every body follows the pattern found in the studies.  Genetics and hereditary traits remain important to remember and regular medical check-ups are important to stay abreast of how your particular body is reacting to running year in and year out.

 

Slight behavioral adjustments might also be in order increase the chances that running may continue to be a positive and enjoyable aspect of daily and weekly life as we age.  The average amount of weekly running for athletes in the Stanford study reduced from 4 hours to 76 minutes over 21 years.  Like Meb, who has integrated cross training as a regular part of his training regimen, many older runners enjoy benefits from interspersing running with non-impact exercise or an extra recovery day between hard efforts.  Whereas as a younger athlete might not pay close attention to core strength an ancillary exercises, this kind of work can help stave off injury at any age, and can be a very useful tool for older athletes.

 

While all-time personal bests might become increasingly hard to come by for long time runners with glory days from their earlier years, a host of competitive opportunities still await the aging runner.  Most races have prizes or recognition for age group winners and placers in five or ten year increments.  Additionally, many athletes enjoy competing for age-graded scores, based on the table developed by the World Association of Veteran Athletes.  These values give a percentage based on the world best for an athlete of a specific age and gender.    Check out this calculator and see how your current times stack up!

 

Many factors have contributed to the growth in senior runners.  More opportunities, more women who have entered middle age with Title IX era youth experience in athletics, and not least, savvy marketing by race organizers and shoe companies.  Regardless of the reason, our hope is that our veteran athletes have the chance to continue on as long as they desire, and we look forward to helping chart your training journey along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The LinkedIn Wellness Team teaches movement across the 6 Primal Movement Patterns: Squat, Bend, Lunge, Push, Pull, Twist.

Below are basic total body exercises that are able to be used as they are or added on to in order to create high intensity and more complex movements.

For a personalized workout routine, please send a request at go/contactwellness and choose Fitness Assessment from the How Can We Help dropdown.

Videos for each of these exercises are coming soon!

Basic: Squat

  • Complex: Squat and Press
 Basic: Lunge
  • Complex: Backward Lunge with Raise
  • Complex: Forward Lunge with Twist

Basic: Static Lateral Lunge

  • Complex: Dynamic Lateral Lunge with Leg Raise 

Basic: Deadlift

  • Complex: Single Leg Deadlift
  • Complex: Woodchops

Pull Exercises

 

  • Pull Ups
  • Bent Over Row
  • Upright Row
  • Lat Pull Down

 

Push Exercises

  • Overhead Press
  • Push Up
  • Bench Press


Meb_Boston_croppedIf Meb Keflezighi’s victory at Boston taught us one thing, it is that we shouldn’t limit our belief in ourselves. After winning the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, Meb was injured in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic trials and was unable to even make the team.  Responding from that enormous disappointment, he bounced back in spectacular fashion, becoming the first American to win the New York Marathon in 2009.  Despite this superlative triumph, challenges again loomed as he parted with his primary sponsor, Nike, in 2010.  Sponsor-less and with a young family, Meb began to build a stable of small partners, some of which were very new to the elite running market.  Skechers, for one, known previously for building shoes that they professed would tone the backside, banked on Meb to help their brand translate to the running masses, and became his footwear and uniform sponsor.  Meb responded by winning the 2012 marathon trials and finishing just out of the London medals in fourth.   Again riding high but facing training challenges leading in, Meb entered New York in 2013 as the favorite son, only to have the type of difficult day that would cause most in his position to drop out rather than post a result much lower than expectations.  Instead, he persisted at a much slower pace for the last several miles, even befriending and finishing hand in hand with a local athlete, inspired by the tragedy of Boston. And then, of course, there was Monday.

 

Entering a half or full marathon can be intimidating when the pictures we see and the stories we follow are often at the front of the pack.  However, one of the most positive changes over the past generation has been the way so many millions of people have been able to personalize the challenge of the race to their own level.

 

At runcoach we train many walkers and first time runners with a simple goal, to finish the race.  For many, that accomplishment is the culmination of a lifetime of doubt and the gateway to a new era of self-confidence and belief.  Although it may seem like Meb’s performances are as far away as the sea is wide, there are several ways in which his race and career translate directly to our hopes for these athletes.

 

He is not the fastest, but he gets the most out of himself every time.

One of the many ways in which Meb’s story hits a nerve with many of us is that his times aren’t the fastest of his cohort.  Despite his Olympic medal, his New York and Boston victories, his personal best, set Monday, is a full five minutes behind the world record and several minutes slower than many of the competitors he faced on each of those days.  In fact, his time on Monday is equivalent to only the 77th best time run in 2013.  If he is concerned with this, it hasn’t shown.  Meb trains and races to the best of his ability each time out.  As his career has shown, that approach is often more than good enough.

 

He is persistent despite setbacks.

Meb has had bad days (2008 Olympic Trials, 2013 New York Marathon), but he has memorably chosen to finish rather than give up.  He has had times when he could have fallen back on his UCLA degree and quit, rather than persist in a running career when he didn’t have a primary sponsor and many felt he was over the hill.  Somehow, he found the belief to persist and his persistence has paid off.

 

He has modified his training to do what is right for him, not the masses.

In recent years, Meb has cross trained by using the ElliptiGO (elliptical bike), moved from altitude Mammoth Lakes to San Diego, and made other adjustments that have allowed him to stretch his world class athletic career to this pinnacle at age 38,.  These are not the changes that would have been dictated by conventional wisdom on world class distance running.  Many of our athletes are tempted to chase arbitrary standards about how much a person should run per week, what pace is “really running,” and more.  Our plans are personalized to you for a reason – we want you to be healthy and successful on race day.  We don’t believe in templates, because we know each athlete has different strengths and challenges in their schedule, injury history, and athletic experience (or maybe they have none at all).  Our plans intend to help you progress toward your goals, and then help set new ones.  These are personal to you, just like Meb has been able to find a successful formula specific to him.

 

His goals are to get to the starting line healthy, THEN run his best time.  In that order.  Sound familiar?

Reflecting on the events of the last week, it is amazing to take a look at his blog from last year at this time.  One little known aspect of this story is that Meb was actually forced to withdraw from last year’s race due to a freak injury sustained when encountering a dog on a run.  We can all relate to that type of inadvertent event in our own lives, and like us, he knows it is not always subject to his control whether or not he is successful in that first goal.  His second goal is to set a personal best.  Setting a personal best means doing something you have not done in the past.  For many of us, that is no different than making it farther than we have before.  “Personal best” does not necessarily mean running fast – it means doing your best. It also requires the confidence to do it at the right time, not pushing so hard every day leading up to the big one that you have nothing left to give. Your plan is crafted to set you up the same way.

 

Of course, one significant difference from most of us is that Meb’s third goal was to WIN the race, a goal made probably so much more resonant in its accomplishment when he had to miss last year, not to mention for all the other reasons mentioned above.  Completing a race for a world class athlete can have reverberations felt far beyond themselves, and they know it.  Their families benefit, their communities may benefit, others like ourselves may be inspired to do something audacious.  Like these athletes, even as walkers and first-timers, our efforts make a difference.  While we may not have a platform affecting millions, our efforts to persist, do our best, and accomplish new challenges can reverberate to those we care about, and to those they care about.  Meb’s win at Boston sprung from a series of challenging times and goals set and stuck to.   His victory, while amazing, is also just a simple testament to the power of belief and commitment to continue getting out the door each day.  Like all of us, there have been days where that was more difficult than others, days when those around him thought he didn’t have the ability to be successful in his task, days when he may have even doubted it himself.  We may not be able to run as fast as Meb, but we should never discount the power of that belief in ourselves, and regardless of the finishing time, the elation of passing under the finishing banner.

 



Boston_StrongFor many runners, the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon has been a “where were you when you heard” moment in the year that has passed since.  In the immediate aftermath, many marathoners fielded repeated questions from casual acquaintances and close friends and families alike, concerned for their safety if they were running, concerned for their safety even if they weren’t running, curious about details about which the runner in question may have had no additional information than the average person.   Runners may have even dealt with a lot of “could have been me; could have been my family” feelings.  In general, many of us spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the race, the events which led to its premature ending, and how to respond.

 

The events of last April 15, where three lost their lives and 170 were injured, struck a chord among many, whether they were familiar with the experience of running a marathon or not.  Late summer Boston qualifying event registrations swelled as athletes started training for a chance to hit a mark before the September entry date.  Athletes who may have never run a marathon or even a 5K before pledged to train and enter this year’s race.  Runners whose race was left incomplete by police road blocks vowed to prepare again in order to finish what they started.  “Boston Strong” iconography became immediately understood as the extra dose of motivation needed to accomplish any array of tough tasks.

 

With the 118th running of the historic race only a few days away, the adrenaline is pumping through the collective veins of a race field ranging from Massachusetts native and American hope Shalane Flanagan down to the “run to finish” athletes in the third wave.  If your Patriot’s Day does not include the chance to join with these individuals as they strive for a national catharsis on behalf of all of us, what can you do to make a difference while the eyes of the world are turned to this bittersweet occasion?

 

Encourage others

Overcoming fear with courage has been a driving desire for many taking part in this year’s race.  For many of us, the fears that prevent us from getting out the door and starting down the road to a fitness goal are not nearly as sensational, but no less crippling in their ability to let inertia prevent us from moving forward.  Consider with whom you can partner to start toward a new goal by engaging in regular exercise. Make a point to come along side them with encouragement this week.

 

Donate

Marathons and charity drives go hand in hand these days, but if you are able and have been looking for a way to make a tangible difference, this race and those running it provide a group of people and causes who are likely some of the most highly motivated athletes to take on the fundraising challenge, including a lot of first timers.  Check out the list of official Boston marathon charities or scroll down your Facebook page.  Likely a runner you care about and believe in is working hard toward a big goal on Monday with others besides themselves in mind. Get behind them if you can!

 

Set your own new goal

Your training plans might not include Boston, or maybe the will was there, but the qualifier or time to train well was not.  Use the opportunity to consider what breakthrough you have been delaying and make some concrete plans toward getting past it.   Many have shown tremendous commitment and perseverance this year as they prepared for this particular race.  Let their stories inspire you to do something inspiring yourself!

 

Reflect, remember, and process

Running can often be our escape from the stresses of every day life. Depending on how close you were to the events of last April 15 or how shaken you were by the news, you may not have had the chance to be mindful of any grieving process you may have been going through, even if it feels a bit remote and true grieving is not the word you would use to describe how you processed your feelings about the tragedy.  Because we have some of the common experiences shared by those directly affected by the bombings, we would do well to make sure we haven’t glossed over any lingering doubts about future situations, talk it through with others equipped with helpful insight, and be conscious of our resolve to move forward confidently.

 

“Boston Strong” is a powerful phrase.  This week, consider how you can truly embody the spirit of the words and encourage others to do so with lasting, positive impact.

 

 



The pace run or track workout has concluded and the first tide of satisfaction washes over.  Although the “heavy lifting” of the workout may be in the rear view mirror, some of the most important work in your training schedule still may lie ahead.  We often focus on the pace runs and long runs, but the recovery between those hard days is what helps determine how well your body will adapt and be ready for the next challenge.  Take your recovery seriously.

Recovery doesn’t begin when you finally tuck into bed the night following your workout.  Recovery begins as you unwind your body from the hard work just accomplished minutes before.  Busy schedules may tempt us to skip a cool down jog, but it’s important to reserve some time for this last piece of your workout.  Even a couple easy laps after your last hard interval or pace run can help unwind your body and your mind.

The cool down provides an often crucial transition period for your body and mind as it goes from high intensity requirements to preparedness for the next activity of your day.  The cool down does not have a huge amount of science proving its necessity, but it’s important that you don’t stop completely and immediately after long, hard exercise,or take your heart rate from extremely high to extremely low in moments (this is why many marathons and half marathons automatically build in lengthy post-finish straightaways to walk and collect fuel).  Let your body temperature drop gradually instead of getting straight into the car sopping wet with sweat.  Giving yourself a moment to jog, roll, and stretch before getting into that same car can prepare your tired muscles for the commute and prevent the onset of post-workout tightness.  A week later, that post-workout tightness can resurface as IT band or low back tightness, from which it may be just a stone’s throw to an injury as workout loads increase.

Stretching has been discussed in the running media a great deal lately, with the once familiar pre and post-run routines now discarded as outdated and not a necessary precursor to injury prevention or better performance.  While we encourage dynamic exercise as a part of our Active Warm-up, we also encourage athletes to be knowledgeable about post-run foam (or other tool) rolling and stretching (even if you only have those precious few minutes). Even if you don’t practice both or each every single day, it is wise to keep those tools in your arsenal.  They help the body transition from the tension of the hard workout to post-run life. 

Another key aspect of recovery is rehydration and refueling.  If running longer than an hour, consuming about 1/3 of your calories burned per hour through sports drink or food can help ensure success.  Making sure to get at least that much food down the hatch in the first 15-30 minutes after working out (even if you don’t feel hungry), can make a significant difference in how quickly your body will begin to prepare itself for the next hard task.  Waiting 2 hours and then eating a huge meal or a pitcher of beer is an absolute no-no! This will delay your recovery and adaptation for your next workout.  Bring a snack and a low sugar sports drink to your workout and consume them when you are done.  You’ll take the edge off the hunger (and avoid a need for a ridiculously huge meal later).  You will feel stronger for the rest of the day and more importantly for your running, eliminate needless time where you body is hunting around for fuel sources in vain.

When you do get to hit the hay, an evening workout may leave you wide awake.  While this may be unavoidable, morning or midday runners should feel nice and tired when bedtime comes.  Resist the temptation to let a post-hard workout or race day act as a reward to not worry about sleep.  In fact, those nights are most crucial. This is your body’s time to repair and prepare for the running ahead. Do your level best to get good sleep the night after a hard day and give yourself the best chance possible for future success and injury free running.

Human nature, the demands of every day life, and other unpredictable aspects of modern living may intervene and prevent you from always executing a perfect recovery routine.  Do your best, try to chalk up small wins each day, and integrate good habits as much as you can.  Your body will respond with more good days, and hopefully your future successes will encourage you to continue treating yourself well post-run.



calendarLike the recipe of your favorite dish, your runcoach training plan combines many difference types of ingredients.  Each of these ingredients are important, even as some of them come in large quantities and some are just a pinch of salt on top of a mound of flour in the bowl.

 

Your runcoach pace chart provides a wide array of paces for various types of workouts prescribed on your individualized schedule,.  Your marathon, maintenance, 80% and half marathon paces are paces your body should be able to handle for long durations – paces at which your cardiovascular system can keep up with the oxygen demand of your muscles for extended periods of time.  Even though you may not be out of breath during this type of running, your muscles are building more extensive and efficient pathways for oxygen and energy delivery.  In addition, your mind is preparing for the lengthy race task ahead.  If you are using a heart rate monitor, this running is done somewhere in the range of 65-85% of your maximum.

 

While some “Pace Runs” on your schedule might be prescribed at slower paces, “threshold” running is designed to challenge you at a comfortably hard level.  This pace should be sustainable for a shorter period of time, say 20-25 minutes, but should not feel easy to continue much beyond that duration. It should also not feel hard after just a few minutes of running.  This area of pacing helps to challenge your body to become more efficient with handling a steadily accumulating blood lactate level (something you will have to do in races shorter than a half marathon).  Threshold workouts are ideally executed at about 88-92% of your maximum heart rate.

 

Crossing the “threshold” literally and figuratively, leads us to paces that can only be performed for shorter, more challenging periods of time.  Balancing intervals or repetitions with just enough rest or active recovery allows an athletes to spend a significant cumulative period of time at a quick pace and high heart rate, conditioning the body and mind to operate effectively and efficiently at that level of demand, which is ideally in the mid to high 90s of maximum heart rate percentage.  If one ran a series of 800m intervals at 4:00 with 90 seconds recovery, each successive interval would see the athlete’s heart rate shoot up more and more quickly within the 4:00, but ideally not so quickly that the athlete could not complete the interval at the prescribed pace.  This effect may result in the first couple intervals of a workout feeling slightly easier than anticipated, tempting the athlete to run faster than the prescribed paces.  While this may seem logical – to run harder initially and shoot the heart rate to the moon on the first interval – the workout is designed to create its effect by the end of the session.  What may seem like a comfortable pace on the first interval turns out to be a misguided assessment as the athlete slows down precipitously at the end or requires way more rest than assigned.

 

Some athletes may wonder why an 800m or 1500m pace might even be assigned to them as they train for a half or full marathon.  Although the bulk of an endurance race training schedule includes work preparing for the paces, energy efficiency, heart rate demand, and mental effort of the longer races, workouts prescribed with some quicker paces allow an athlete to work on running economy.  Workouts or even strides on your schedule at 800m or 1500m pace provide a valuable opportunity for athletes to challenge the fundamentals of their running stride, to teach their legs to have a bit more range of motion in the stride, to strengthen their feet to push off the ground more effectively, quickly, and with strength.  Although they may seem inconsequential in the larger picture, even small improvements in this area can result in large gains considering how many thousands of strides we take during the course of our general training.

 

While it is normal and natural to feel more at home with one type of workout over another, avoid the inclination to slough off the types of workouts that seem unfamiliar or not in your wheelhouse.  Each of the paces prescribed in your schedule has a purpose.  Commit to executing each workout with mindfulness and a sense of purpose.  This is your best chance of turning out a race day “dish” you’ll remember for years.



The Warm Up

March 26, 2014

lady_from_behind_warm_up

Your weekly schedule has just appeared in your email inbox and it is time to sit down to consider the week’s training tasks. What track workout or tempo run is planned?  When and where will that workout take place?

We know that the actual intervals of the workout will require our greatest expenditure of energy, so naturally we psych ourselves up for those.  Far less often do we consider the importance of the warm up.  This month, we will shed some light on this crucial aspect of your training and give the warm up its due.

Most workouts include varying amounts and variations on four very important aspects:  Easy running, LIGHT stretching, running drills, and strides.

Easy running

It is not uncommon for an easy warm-up jog to be described as a way to “get the blood flowing.”  Although that phrase is often uttered with a figurative meaning, the reality is, the easy jogging at the beginning of your warm up does exactly that.    Easy running provides a bridge for your body to move from a static situation (sleeping in bed, driving the car, watching TV), to a place where your core body temperature has been raised.  This prepares your muscles to accommodate increased blood flow, allows for more strenuous contractions as required by a hard workout, and starts the processes you’ll need to use your body’s stored energy effectively throughout the session.

Light stretching

The purpose of the warm up is to execute a string of activities that will conclude when your body is prepared to begin the hard work at hand.  Taking a timeout to stretch for 20 minutes will certainly disrupt the progression of that process.  However, taking a few moments to check in with the major muscle groups after (and only after) you have been able to light the fire with easy running can provide a helpful transition to the increasingly dynamic activities in the warm up routine.   Hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes, and iliotibial (IT) bands can be lightly stretched (finding a cozy position for 2x8-10 seconds without any strain or hint of pain) from a standing or supine position without taking more than 5-7 minutes away from the remainder of activities on tap.

Running drills

Running drills are exercises that mimic or closely resemble some of the types of repetitive demands harder running will make on your body.  The intention of running drills are to help ensure your body has been prepared to handle these, and to also reinforce the type of angles and form habits practiced by efficient runners.  Runcoach has outlined and created short videos for a basic canon of seven running drills.  Each drill is meant to be practiced for the distance indicated immediately after which the athlete should run with good form at 1500 meter pace effort for the balance of 100 meters.

Strides

Consider the last time you observed the start line of a competitive road race or track race.  Many times the athletes involved take complete repeated short running bouts of 30, 50, or even 100 meters just before the competition begins.  These final preparations are called strides. These strides listed on your warm up are most definitely related (as their lower-key cousin) to these pre race sprints.    A chance to concentrate on good form for 20-30 seconds and provide the body a few more sustained efforts that keep the body warm and prepared to work hard are the final touches on your warm up routine.  If you have ever done a workout with a short warm up and felt rusty on the first effort, only to find yourself feeling markedly better on the second bout, then you know firsthand the importance of strides.  Please see our video description of strides here.

While warm up is a crucial physical preparation process, it can also be an invaluable time to review the mental elements you’ll need to employ during the workout and distance yourself from the everyday cares that will be waiting when you return through your front door.  Let your warm up free you of the world’s gravity and transport you to the weightless state of focus on your workout.  Complete each step with care and you’ll find your workouts will benefit.



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