There are very few things that obsessing over is a positive thing…but injury prevention is definitely one of them.
As runners, we often take running for granted. We just lace up and run, no big deal right? Well sure…when we’re just getting started everyone tells us that running is a cheap way to get get healthy and stay sane. But as we progress and get better at what we love we start to realize that:
- Running is not cheap
- Running by itself is not enough to keep us healthy and injury free
- If we don’t add strength training to our routine, we will be one of those people on the sidelines with an injury
Most of us have been running for a little bit now and some of us have been running for years so we know running isn’t cheap, we know only running is not enough and we know we have to do our strength work. But we might still be confused as to what type of strength training is most beneficial to our sport. Should we lift heavy? Should we go to boot camp? Should we do plates or barre or some other class to help us get stronger?
While all those things are great for our personal fitness, they aren’t specific to running. I’m not saying you should stop going, but if we want to get better at what we love the most, we have to do a little work on areas where runners most often suffer from injuries and pain.
We’re doing things a little differently this month and I am excited to continue learning and share with you as I go. You probably know that I have been following another coach and elite runner named Jason Fitzgerald and his podcast, Strength Running. Well this month, we’re going to break down his training into segments and get great tips from his training arsenal. We’re going to learn more about strength work specific to injury prevention for runners and warm up routines that will get us ready to run strong and pain free.
So what is so different about our September Challenge? Well, we are stepping away from the 30 Day Calendar and working with 4 runner specific, injury prevention workouts all month. We will throw in some of our old workouts as we go to keep things from getting boring but let’s be real…our strength workouts aren’t always “fun” and while it might get tedious, I believe this month we are going to build strength in all the right places.
We will learn how to build variety into our training, how to run with proper form, how to increase our mileage safely, and how to treat some of the most common running injuries like shin splints, tendon tightness, ITBS pain and Plantar Fasciitis.
No matter what your goal is, preventing running injuries before they become a problem can help you get there. Fitzgerald calls CONSISTENCY the “secret sauce” to successful running. So this month, we are going to be consistent with 4 key workouts designed specifically for runners.
Think about it, if you’re rarely injured, you’ll be able to run more mileage, more mileage means you’re able to add tougher running workouts, tougher workouts means improvement in fitness, endurance, speed and agility. Put it all together and you can run stronger, faster and longer!
So September is all about being OBSESSED with PREHAB to avoid REHAB!
Injury Prevention Tools You Need for September:
For this month you will need a few simple inexpensive items in order to get the most out of your workouts. The items you will need are below. Most of you will already have these… but if not, I am including links to places you can buy them on the low low… 😉
If you can’t purchase these items, you may need to hit the gym for your workout. But if you are able to purchase them, they are all the tools you will need to have a great month working out from home!
Foam Roller: A simple self-massage tool, it can help increase flexibility, break up scar tissue, reduce myofascial adhesions, and loosen you up before running. If you don’t have a foam roller, get one! Use it once a week or up to every day! There are lots of foam rollers out there and most of them work just fine, but it’s better to have a roller that has grooves. If you already have one that is smooth that’s ok too…but consider getting one with grooves in the future.
Medicine Ball: Perfect for beginner or advanced runners, a medicine ball can be used for a variety of strength exercises.
Thera-band: A Thera-band is simply an exercise band that can make some body-weight exercises more challenging by increasing the resistance. It’s portable and perfect for traveling. This link I’m providing offers just one band and that is totally fine. If you want to buy more than one with different levels of resistance there are very inexpensive bundle options like this one which only costs a couple dollars more.
Please don’t freak out if you do not already have these items. All we need for week #1 is a resistance band which you can have in 2 days using Amazon Prime or find pretty inexpensive at a Walmart or Target.
September Set Up:
Since the structure of our month will be set up differently, our schedule will also be a little different. Instead of having specific exercises to do each day, we are going to do strength three times each week but YOU have the choice of when to get them done. The recommended time to complete this strength work is right before or right after a run. If that means you have to cut a run a mile or so short to get it done, that is what you need to do. Trust me, I know all we want to do is run…but these workouts will help us run stronger and longer…and will keep the injuries at bay. It is up to you to make them important!
Each week, I will introduce a new routine that will focus on a specific area of strength for runners. During that week, we will complete the routine three times. We have 4 routines to learn over the month and I will post a video of myself doing each routine so you can follow along with me. Week #1 will take very little time, but it will take longer as the month progresses.
During the 2nd week, we will do week #1 routine three times, plus add routine #2 and so on. As we add new workouts, it will be up to you to plan your week so you can fit in your three strength workouts and run…while keeping your stress levels down and having a “life”. It’s very important that we plan ahead because let’s face it…life happens and when it comes down to it, we have to plan our fitness around our life…not the other way around.
Each Sunday, I will post the workout for that week along with our weekly speed work. You will see this weekly post as our “announcement” for the whole week so you can find it easily. Each week, you will post a minimum of 3 times when you complete your strength work. Yes, you can post more…but I don’t want to see “I didn’t get it done.” If you just run on Monday, post and let us know AND tell us what your plan is to get your strength done for the week. This will give you some accountability AND make you plan ahead.
This format will allow you to get it done on your time. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have time” that really means “It’s not a priority.” If it’s not a priority, don’t get upset when you get hurt and can’t run or when you don’t reach your goals!
September Buddies: Buddies are going to be important this month. They are always helpful, but since we won’t necessarily have a post each day, it will be harder for me to follow everyone. (I will still be watching! 🙂 ) Our buddies will be the ones who will be able to watch for us more closely. Please keep buddy groups at four or less so this will not be a burden on anyone. We don’t want our buddy system causing anyone any stress. Check in with your buddies if you haven’t seen them for a while! Remember…we should see everyone AT LEAST three times each week.
Pace Posting: I mentioned in our group that we are going back to posting our run paces for September. Again, just be mindful of others and keep it positive as always. If you see someone who you admire and want to emulate remember that they got where they are from slowly building mileage, from keeping their easy runs easy and by pushing pace when the time is appropriate.
I am a BIG advocate of the 80/20 rule. What this mean is that 80% of our runs should be at our easy “conversation pace” while the other 20% can be a tempo or other speed work pace. Let’s break that down.
If you run an average of 20 miles per week, 16 of those miles (80%) should be at your conversation pace while the other 4 (20%) should be faster.
If you run an average of 30 miles per week, 24 of those miles should be at your conversation pace while the other 6 should be faster.
As you increase your weekly average (slowly and smartly) you can add additional faster miles to your training. Up to 40 miles a week average? That gives you 32 miles at conversation pace and 8 miles of speed work. 50 miles a week average means 40 miles at conversation apace and 10 miles of speed work.
Let’s think about this for a minute. If you run 20 miles a week and our speed work calls for a tempo run, you can safely do a 1-2 mile warm up, 4 miles at tempo pace, then your cool down. If you run 40 miles a week you can do the same tempo run, then you can add a run with 2 mile repeats or 2 miles of fartleks during an easy run.
Example: I am averaging about 50-60 miles a week right now. That means I am safely able to run 10-12 miles of speed work each week. This week I had a 20 minute tempo run (about 2.5 miles) on Tuesday, then I did 5 mile repeats on Wednesday, then we had 3 miles of fartleks in our long run for a total of 10.5 miles. This week I logged 66 miles so if 10.5 of those were faster than conversation pace, that left 55-56 at conversation pace. If you follow my on Garmin or Strava, you will see that all my runs, besides those key workouts, were at my conversation pace which is 9:50/mile and up. I had several runs in the 11s, 12s, and 13s and let me tell you…my legs and lungs were so thankful!
Another thought, if you are training for your first marathon or still building distance or and relatively new to running, you DO NOT need to worry so much about your pace. Running a marathon for the first time is all about FINISHING! When you are adding miles to your long runs, DON’T worry about how fast you are going. Who cares?? It’s not about how fast you finish your training runs…it’s about finishing those miles! That is ALL that matters!
LSD = Long Slow Distance
What is “Conversation Pace? Think about a normal run for you. Are you breathing heavily and struggle to get any words out? Or are you relaxed, breathing easy and feeling good? Conversation pace is that relaxed, breathing easily, feeling good kind of run. It’s the pace you can run and hold a conversation or even sing a song at submaximal effort.
I often tell my runners, your easy runs should be so EASY that you should feel like you could do that pace all day, like your frolicking through a field of flowers and doing circles in a long skirt (you can see that image right? 😉 ) Think about that when you are going out for an easy run. You should have that “I could do this all day” feeling! If not, you’re going too fast.
I am very excited about this new structure and about bringing you some high quality workouts that are tailored just for our needs as runners. As we move into racing season, these routines we make us stronger which will translate into more power, more endurance, and faster race times. They will also give us the confidence we need to do hard stuff. Stick with me Crew…it’s gonna be a fun ride!