A few years ago, it came to me with startling clarity…or through another bout of IT Band pain that I had become exceptionally good at moving my body in a forward motion for hours without stopping.
I had become exceptionally bad and doing most other movements, the result being muscle imbalances, pain, time off and serious frustration. So I did what most Type A runners do and I swung the other direction! I would become a machine at ferreting out my weaknesses and beating them in to submission with repetition after repetition!!
Result: New injuries, burn out, too tired to run.
I’ve seen both sides of this time and again with my runners and running friends, so let’s look at how we can find a happy medium between spending our time enjoying the miles and putting in enough work to stay injury free! It turns out it is possible without being a full time athlete, though that helps.
Let’s talk about how we can build a strong foundation for running for a lifetime!STEP 1: A PLAN
First we have to figure out where to start. In 90% of runners it’s three places: core, hips and feet, hence those are the three areas I’ve focused on below!
Strengths: Figure out how training your weakness might enhance your strengths, this is key to getting motivated to make them part of your routine and not a one off thing when you happen to be injured. Just a few benefits
Go Slow: Don’t jump in to an intense plan with both feet. Most of us can attest to getting injured this way. Instead incorporate 1 new session each week, then build to two or increase the length or intensity of that session. the easiest way to do this is tack it on to the end of a run, so it simply becomes part of your process.
Celebrate progress: It’s going to be hard, but then again so was running your first mile. Focus on how you have pushed through those workouts and give yourself credit for every single improvement!
1 weakness at a time. If you can’t touch your toes or do a burpee, decide to either start adding in yoga or tabata workouts, but not both at the same time. This ensures you still have plenty of time for your preferred workout and prevents injury.
Timing: I know the biggest issue is “how to fit it all in“!!
- A running coach is a tremendous help here
- Add it to the end of a run
- Set a timer on your phone and spend 5 minutes each evening while watching TV doing a few moves
- Do 5 minutes each morning before work
- Focus on SUPER small things to start so that you don’t give up
STEP 2: RUNNING DRILLS
All of that being said, remember what you love because that is what keeps you showing up everyday.
Look at your schedule and ensure it includes a mix of short speed sessions, long easy runs, tabata workouts and strength training. By keeping your cross training workouts short and focused, you still allow plenty of time for what you love…the run.
It’s also possible to make getting stronger part of the run!
- Doing running drills as part of your warm up
- Running hills consistently
- Adding in varied speed workouts
- Spending more time walking outside the run
- Serious attention to fueling properly
- Small form changes
Read more – Why You’re Not Cross Training and What to Do About It >>
I did a full post about understanding what your core is, how to get a six pack and why it matters, so I won’t be labor the point here! Read the full post and get some moves to add in to your workout.
- Core and abs are not the same thing.
- A strong core means better endurance, better strength and a pain free back.
- A strong core also means better posture, which can instantly make you look leaner.
Tabata Core – Betty Rocker (pictured above)
Pilates Ab Workout – Daily Burn
TRX Workout – Trainer Paige
Dynamic Core Workout – RunToTheFinish
6 Moves to Improve Balance – The Fit Foodie MamaHIP STRENGTH
“Weakness in your glutes can cause different running injuries such as IT band syndrome, or knee pain like patellofemoral syndrome and patellar tendonitis (runner’s knee),” says physical therapist John Gallucci, Jr.
Another less scientific way to look at it is this: every muscle is part of a chain and a weakness or tightness in one part flows all the way through! In other words, tight calf muscles pull down on the knee and inactive glutes mean less strength to hold your knee in proper alignment each time you hit the ground.
- Reduced knee and IT Band pain
- Reduced back pain
- Improved speed
- Improved power on hills
Best Post Run Stretches for Hips and ITB – RunToTheFinish
Hip Extension and Mobility – RunToTheFinish
Strengthen Hip Abductors – Runner’s Connect
Yoga Poses to Open Tight Hips – Love, Life, Surf
Creating Strength to Prevent Knee Pain – RunToTheFinish (pictured above)
Lower Body Resistance Band Workout – Pumps and IronFOOT STRENGTH
Though we spend hours finding the perfect running shoe, we rarely spend any time thinking about how the strength in our feet or ankles can impact our running performance. One of the major claims made my barefoot runners is that creating this foot strength would allow for better stabilization and reduce injuries.
Luckily there is no need to go barefoot to realize some great power, speed and injury proof gains from working on those feet.
- Prevention of plantar fasciitis and shin splints
- Reduction of muscle imbalances from only running forward
- Creating additional power when pushing off
Toenails not required for any of the following moves.5 Exercises to Improve speed and power from Breaking Muscle
8 Exercises to Prevent Foot Injures from Active.com
7 Ankle Exercises to Prevent Strains and Sprains from PopSugar (pictured above)
4 Foot Strength Exercises for Trail Runners from Rock Creek Runner
Of course if all that torture wasn’t enough for you, a complete guide to foam rolling (because yeah those new moves are gonna make you sore!!)
What area do you need to spend more time on?
Any injuries you battle frequently?
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