Thank you for your patience with me through “magazine hell week” last week as I know I missed some posts. The magazine is a lot of fun to put together and I’m enjoying it but it does get time consuming when my monthly deadlines are close. Each month, I write a “family feature” story which includes a photo session and interview with a family who lives in the area the magazine mails to. I’m able to suggest families for the monthly story and since I know the owner of our local running store, Doug and Jane Alred, live in the magazine’s community, I asked and they agreed to be my cover story for next month! I’m excited to interview them and watch the photo shoot next week. Pretty cool that I can put running and writing together in so many different ways. 🙂
Enough about me…let’s talk running!
Last week we talked a little about the shoes we wear outside of running. I posted this because I wanted to get you thinking about the things you do outside of running that can be detrimental to your goals. There are certain aspects of living in today’s modern world that can cause of issues. Unfortunatley, even if we’re fit and healthy, modern life isn’t helping our running. Sitting is a big problem. With so many modern conveinences, we aren’t required to get up and move around anymore. Sitting causes muscle imbalances that, in conjunction with a lack of strength, can lead us directly to an injury.
The sad truth is that the majority of us spend most of the day sitting down. Long periods of sitting are inherently bad for all of us but for runners sitting wreaks havoc on our flexibility and general posture. A lot of sitting can cause a real problem when it comes to our every day running performance. In the Strength Running program, Injury Prevention for Runners, Jason Fitzgerald tells us:
Sitting results in many types of postural and muscular changes that deteriorate your running efficiency and can predispose us to running injuries. If you run after work, after sitting all day, then you are especially at risk.
Just think: prolonged sitting…
- reduces the flexibility of the hip flexors and hamstrings
- creates a forward tilt of the pelvis
- reduces blood flow to the legs, hampering the recovery process
- weakens the glutes and hip muscles, reducing the stability of the pelvis while running
These immediate results from a day of sitting makes us ill-equipped to handle an afternoon or evening run.
Jason promises to give us strength and mobility exercises that are “aimed at counteracting the imbalances, weaknesses, and inflexibilities that are caused by our sedentary lifestyles” but before we getting into those, he wants to encourage us to vary how we spend our day. We can’t stop sitting down altoegther, but we can alternate between sitting, standing, walking, and even kneeling.
There are things we can do throughout the day to help our body retain more flexibility and reduce the damaging effects of sitting down for long periods of time.
Consider fighting for one of the following options in your workplace:
- A standing desk
- A normal office chair
- An exercise ball
- An ergonomic kneeling chair
It’s also helpful to take frequent walk breaks and use your lunch hour actively instead of for more sitting. You can go for a longer walk, a short run, or a yoga class or get your strength work done if you have a gym membership nearby.
If you work an office job, it’s also helpful to do things the hard way. Use the printer on the other side of the office, get up and walk over to a colleague instead of calling, stand up while you’re on the phone, go for a walk with a colleague instead of sitting down for a meeting, and avoid using a chair whenever you don’t have to.
While you’re sitting, use the cue to bring your belly button to your spine (we’ll talk more about this cue later in the Running Form lesson) to activate your deep abdominal muscles and improve your posture. Do this several times per hour while sitting and even while standing to promote a neutral, efficient posture.
Later in the Injury Prevention for Runners program we’ll see some more strength and flexibility routines that Strength Running has developed to counteract the effects of sitting and muscular imbalances. But before we work on strength, we have some action steps to take this week.
Each section of the Injury Prevention for Runners program includes Action Steps that help us implement the material into our training. We want to make sure we are actively incorporating these lessons into our running rather than just consuming the information and putting it aside.
Part 1 Action Steps:
This section tackles a big picture topic – lifestyle factors that affect injuries – as it comes before running-specific changes to your training.
Step 1: For one day, be aware of how much time you spend sitting down. You don’t have to keep a running stopwatch of how much time you spend on your butt (although I did – and it was eye-opening) but it’s helpful as most of us under-estimate.
Step 2: The next day try to reduce this time by 1-3 hours. If you work a sedentary job and spend your evenings watching TV or on the computer, aim to sit for no more than 5-6 hours total (the national average is over 9 hours per day!).
Step 3: Evaluate your casual shoes for rigid, high-heeled, constrictive models that could be contributing to foot and lower leg weaknesses. I won’t ask you to buy a new closet of shoes, but:
1. Wear high-heeled or constrictive shoes for one less workday per week
2. Never wear shoes in your home
3. Opt for more flexible, lower-profile shoes when you’re at more casual events 4. The next time you need new shoes, buy a lower-profile, more flexible option
Many runners look for a “magic pill” that will help them run healthy in the long-term. I’m fond of saying that there are no magic workouts, secret training strategies, or hidden coaching tactics.
Instead, we’re improving your foundation so you can live a lifestyle conducive to running injury-free.
These are simple steps we can take that will make us feel better all around but especially when we run. Will you take these steps to or are you still waiting for that “magic pill?”
In addition to our Part 1 Action Steps, this week are are adding a new strength routine from Strength Running! Let’s look at how our week will play out.
- Injury Prevention for Runners – Part 1 Action Steps
- IT Band Rehab/Strength Routine (20 minutes) – 3X
- Nike Runners World Arm Strength Routine (6 minutes) – 3X
- Tomahawk Workout (16 minutes) – 3X
- Daily Plank & Wall Sit – one minute each day
- Speed Work – See workout below. Plan ahead to make sure you fit it in
You can do these workouts when your schedule allows. You can do all three strength workouts at once which would be three 42 minute workouts. Or you can split them up and do them at different times or different days. You can do your speed work when it makes the most sense for your running schedule. Remember to give yourself a couple days before and after your long run so you are fully recovered and ready to work hard. Make it work Crew!
Speed Work: The Tempo Run
We’ve talked about tempo runs a lot but they can still be confusing. If you still don’t understand them, or maybe think you know what they consist of but aren’t sure, you really should listen to Strength Running Episode #71: A Step by Step Guide to Tempo Runs.
Once you listen (it’s only around 15 minutes) then you will be better prepared to run your tempo workout. If you have questions, please ask me, but if you listen to the podcast first and you will probably be ready to go.
The Workout: Tempo Run
- 5K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 15 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
- 10K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 20 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
- Half Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 30 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
- Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 40 min tempo + 2 mile cool down
As you can see, the workout gets longer depending on the distance you are training for. If this is your first tempo run, don’t go all out and try to run a 40 min workout. Start with 20 minutes and work your way up. Reach out to me with questions. You may see others training for a similar distance as you and doing longer or more intense workouts, but they may also be a more experienced runner. Please don’t compete yourself or try to do more than you are ready for. Make smart decisions about your training!
If you have a speed workout given to you by your coach (or by me if I coach you individually) that is different from our workout, that’s fine. Do what your coach tells you. 🙂 But this is a great workout for anyone so if you don’t already have a prescribed workout, then get to tempoing!
Week #3 Workouts: Hope you like the new videos that our Florida Crew helped me with this week!
IT Band Rehab/Strength Routine:
Nike Runners World Arm Strength: