Running workouts are just one piece of the puzzle to being a well-rounded and happy runner.
If you're like most avid runners, you'll lace up the running shoes rain or shine, no matter your aches and pains, just to get in the designated mileage for the day, or to keep a running streak alive.
Sure, that type of grit counts for something, but without attending to the other important puzzle pieces, you'll very likely find yourself on a one-way train to injury.
When that happens, more often than not, it is the type of injury where you are restricted to the sidelines, forced to be a spectator (think: walking boots, crutches, stress fractures, surgery, and/or more).
In our hip pain from running article, we mentioned the importance of choosing a practitioner adept in utilizing the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) Assessment. For a qualified professional it is the magnifying glass that helps to determine the unique program design for each client, patient, or athlete.
Not every runner needs to stretch the same muscles. In some cases, stretching the wrong muscles can do much more harm than good, in that it could compound existing muscular imbalances, leading to the possibility of the aforementioned injuries occurring even sooner.
The following are important points that you and your coach should consider:
We've been fortunate to have been using the FMS Assessments since 2005, allowing us to design fitness programming, unique to our individual clients, to drive results. We couldn't imagine designing running workouts, or any other program design, without this valuable resource.
Running is your "main thing." We get it.
However, it is important to note that you don't have to live in the gym in order to get the many benefits that strength training provides.
In just a few days per week, performing the appropriate, compound exercises, with a focus on total body workouts, you can set yourself up for great success and application to your running workouts.
Your legs have likely felt strong from one of your tough, running workouts. However, the effect on your muscles from those workouts is far different than that you'll find from resistance training.
And, it isn't just about strengthening your legs.
The best strength training programs for runners will be comprehensive, involving:
Efficiency is important, too.
To ensure efficiency, your focus should be on compound movements (single joint exercises such as bicep curls, tricep press downs, and shoulder raises are not going to get you results).
Dependent upon your unique situation, you may see forms of interval training incorporated to get an improved training effect.
Skip out on strength training, and you'll likely find that you aren't able to rely on the "shock absorbers," aka the muscles in your body, to provide the cushion that the joints of your body need (especially where it relates to the impact of running).
Having been a fitness professional for the better part of the last 20 years, I've been a constant observer of the habits of gym-goers left to their own devices.
One of the reasons that so few people see results when they don't have guidance is because they're so very rarely exercising in a heart rate zone that create positive impact.
Walk or run too slowly and your heart rate may never reach a point where your cardiovascular training will be effective.
Move too quickly and your heart rate may spike. Sure, whatever you're doing may feel difficult. However, it is unlikely that you'll be able to maintain it for long enough that your body will benefit.
Not only that, but you may even be targeting an incorrect energy system, making your running goals that much harder to achieve, all while under heightened risk of injury and diminishing opportunity for recovery.
The Karvonen Formula
To take the guesswork out of finding target heart rate and specific zones, we use the Karvonen Formula.
Where it includes the use of one's age, and one's resting heart rate, it is much more precise in defining the zones that will be most effective for each individual.
So, How Does It Work?
Where a quick glance at the face of your watch will give you all sorts of data, one we use often is heart rate.
Take for example, an interval-based running workout. Without the benefit of your watch, detailing your heart rate, it is very likely that you'll be far over, or far under, your target heart rate. Being able to reach the height of one zone without moving into what could be a red zone, then reducing speed to a jog, walk, or stationary recovery until reaching the bottom of another specific zone has worked wonders with many previous clients.
Now, for the duration of your workout, you are neither at too high of a heart rate, nor too low of a heart rate, where in either case, you would be sacrificing results.
Just as most runners start their running workouts without proper warmup, most complete their runs without attending to a cool down or to static stretching.
This cool down period allows your body to return to its resting state. And, while your muscles are warm, it is a great time to address your unique flexibility needs, found through the FMS Assessment.
Having a flexibility roadmap that is specific to you, and taking the time to fully incorporate it into your training, will help to better prepare your body for your next workout.
Remember the go-go-go mentality we mentioned earlier?
Well, no matter the level of your mental and physical grit, at some point your body (and your mind) will wear out.
When that happens, you're forced to deal with the additional stressors of falling that much farther from achieving your goals.
We incorporate planned rest days with our athletes and clients.
For some of them, that means complete rest; just hydration, TV, radio, a book, etc. Others will enjoy an active rest day, where they take a walk in the park, or to do some window shopping in the city. Still others may opt for cryotherapy, a massage, or a yoga class (though nothing too extreme).
It is one (or two) of our favorite days of the week, because we've realized how important it is to our bodies and minds, and that it is part of the fuel we need to continue in the direction of achievement of our goals.
For nearly 20 years, I've been a practicing health and fitness professional.
During that time, I've helped men and women identify and address the pieces of the puzzle that were missing from their fitness plans.
Throughout my career, I've also been tasked with guiding the careers of hundreds of other health professionals, teaching the how and why of program design.
A bit about my qualifications:
With my background, and my thousands of Personal Training sessions trained, I've become adept in designing and implementing programs for:
We have even more to tell you about our style of training, as well as our membership options.
Learn all about our running workouts and fitness training options on our Framingham Personal Trainer page.