By: Eddie Eastwood
In the decades gone by this is how a runner would train. They would run, period. Then athletes got a little more savvy. Treadmills were introduced to the home market. Great for winter training. Then advances in exercise regimes; particularly by Olympic coaches training elite athletes entered into the mainstream. Even treadmill training was revolutionized with interval training techniques such as HIIT.
Todays advanced athlete will use a variety of the aforementioned techniques and incorporate them into a finely tuned training athletic program. Strength, flexibility and rehabilitation has become more prominent. Foam rolling, resistance bands and ice baths are now the norm. Rehabilitation, injury prevention, recovery, movement and biomechanics are now the order of the day. All play key roles in protecting the athlete, helping them to perform better, with more power, more suppleness and also helping with injury recovery.
Fast Greasy Power
One thing that can help runners increase their overall strength and endurance is as the name suggests, strength training. If you compete in sprint racing, 60 to 400m track running, you simply cannot avoid using strength training in your regime.
You need greasy fast power for short burst speed work, and one of the best ways to develop this is with explosive strength building workouts in the gym. You can incorporate everything from traditional squats, deadlifts and bench presses, to the modern tools strongmen competitors use such as the log press, tire lifts, prowler pushes and heavy kettlebell work.
To be an ultra-fast short distant runner you need mounds of fast twist muscle fibers. But what if you train for mid to long distant races? Whether its track or trail running, strength training can also benefit you. It can increase your strength and endurance without over bloating your physique, which would be a disadvantage on 5k & 10k runs and especially on half and full marathons.
The main reason people bulk up monstrously on strength and bodybuilding programs is due to the excessive calories they consume. Limit the calorie intake and you will get the benefits of strength training without the bulk.
Strength training also builds your structural physique which can prevent common injuries. For example squats and deadlifts strengthen the hips. If you sit all day and also run in the evening and the weekend you can suffer from bad posture and tight hip flexors. Foam rolling before a squat and deadlift workout will work out the knots in your glutes and hip flexors. This will increase your flexibility. Combine this with some light stretching before your leg workout and you can reclaim your flexibility.
Once you increase the flexibility range in your hips and psoas muscles this will prevent poor posture and help you to keep your hips and spine aligned when you run. One of the disadvantages of sitting all day at work is that it can ruin your posture, misalign your spine, decrease your flexibility and cause you to run with too much of a forwards lean as you lose control in the anterior pelvis as your lumbar region is pulled forward due to tight hips and the psoas region.
You can strengthen the affected areas with the foam roller, stretches and strength work. You need strong hips and glutes to stabilize your spine when running. But strength is limited if you don’t have a free range of movement due to flexibility issues.
Addressing Psoas Flexibility Issues
As mentioned in the previous chapter there is a particular muscle getting a lot of feedback in today’s health & fitness press. It is the psoas muscle. This muscle runs from the inside of the thigh right up to the inner abdomen. Once you sit for most of the day this muscle actually contracts. It shortens. It tightens up and also tightens up your hips and back muscles, especially the lumbar region. This can cause you to become more rounded at the hips as you lose elasticity in the muscle over time as your body hunches forward due to poor posture at a desk, and due to the shortening of this muscle as it contracts from too much sitting. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s true, if you don’t use it you lose it.
The Psoas March stretch can work this muscle and give you back control of your anterior pelvis tilt. You will find after a few sessions of this your hips will loosen up and if you tend to suffer from lower back pain you will find that you have more flexibility in your lumbar region and you may even get rid of your back pain completely. Not only good for running, but good for everyday life.
Psoas March tilt Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA8V4jRP0l4
Once everything is aligned and strengthened you can derive more power and efficiency from your body. You will eliminate power leaks caused by poor alignment. This will enable you to run to your full potential.
About The Author
Eddie works as a strength and conditioning coach. You can view his running articles at http://treadmillreviewers.net/. He coaches athletes from multiple disciplines who want to increase their performance in their given support.