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Conditioning guide for running
Where to Run?
In this article I wish to examine and show the benefits of conditioning your body for the purpose of running. However before we address the conditioning for running, I believe that this is important to look at.
There recently has been a great debate recently among the running community regarding where is the best place to run. Is it more beneficial to run on parkland or is running on the pavement/ concrete just as good for your body?
Let's examine the pro's and con's of both and
1. Running on the pavement:
Running on pavement/tarmac I find is beneficial as it is an instant way to run. You can stretch along the way and you can easily start without having to walk/run or even drive to a nearby park to start running.
That said, there have been cases where runners (including myself) have complained of the harsh nature of the tarmac. The tarmac for me requires a difference in running style and that's why although I love running on the pavement due to it's easy accessibility, I have restricted it's use.
2. Running on Grass:
Running on grass for me changed the way I thought about running. I was first introduced to running on grass through sports such as: Football, Rugby and Cricket and by playing these sports, running on grass became normal to me.
Now the benefits of running on grass for me are: a more natural feel for my stance; a reduction in the amount of injuries (minor and major) that I have suffered, (0 injuries this year as compared to 3 minor injuries in 2012/13.) Lastly I feel that running on grass is beneficial as I enjoy the scenery of grassland.
I find that it helps me to think more clearly and it allows me to have more instant access to conditioning methods as opposed to the pavement.
Stretching is Key!
It is not only recommended that you stretch before you run, but for me it is essential.
Stretching must take place in order for your body to be primed to run and take part in strength activities for running. Now there are two types of stretching: Dynamic stretching and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching includes movements that relate to your activity such as: Skier Hops, Ins and Outs, Leg Raises, High Knees and Jumping Jacks or Jumping Knees.
Static Stretching on the other hand incorporates positions and holds that are often performed when you are still. Examples of this are: Cat Stretches, arm stretches, leg stretches and the buttefly and elbow in knee stretches.
Dynamic stretching for me must be done prior to the run as it allows the body to become used to the movement and it also allows your limbs to become warm which prevents injury.
Static stretching is a good way to help cool down the muscles after a long run or sprint so I recommend using both appropriately before and after a run.
-Stretch Often and slowly; Don't rush through your stretch
-When strength training for running; bodyweight exercises or resistance exercises, are the best way to remain injury free.
-NEVER forget that running normally is the best way to condition yourself for a run, everything else is helpful but supplementary.
Conditioning for Running
Now that we have covered the stretching portion, we can now focus on the run and conditioning for running itself.
Many people have said that there is no better way to become better at running than to run more often and more efficiently and to that I do agree. However I also believe that adding bodyweight and weighted exercises to your routine makes that you can become a more effective runner.
Here are four exercises which I believe are great for injury prevention and for conditioning for runners.
1. The TRX Row: Whilst the TRX Row is an exercise that focuses upon the body pulling itself towards an object at an angle of your choice, I use this exercise to correct my back posture for running. Often I can be led to have an imbalance in my posture due to keeping a stiff back but through the TRX Row I feel that my posture has improved and has allowed me to remain injury free so far this season.
2. The Half Lotus bend; In this exercise/stretch you are sitting upright and you place on leg sideways on your hip, you then breathe and raise your hands in the air. Lastly you then reach down with your hands towards your ankle that is on the floor, your chin must be near to your knee for this to really work.
I find this really beneficial for runners as this exercise encourages flexibility in the hips and since picking up a minor hip injury through rugby in 2011, after performing this stretch I have never had a hip injury.
3. The Barbell Lunge: This exercise can also be done with dumbells but I find that barbells are better for maintaining posture. Barbell lunges allow for you not only to stretch out your movement but they also allow for you to strenghten your legs (especially your quadriceps and hamstrings as they become used to weight).
The weight used does not have to be heavy, it can be light, as long as proper form is used then you will see the benefits of using a barbell for running conditioning.
4. Lastly I believe that running is the overall best exercise for running conditioning. By running consistently and safely, there is no reason as to why you cannot reach your peak condition for your goal.
If you want to be extra you can even incorporate sprints into your 3 mile run to help tighten your abdominal muscles and to give your legs a shock. OR you could add 20 push-ups every 1 mile in order to remind your body that everything must work in conjunction with each other.
Pushups for Conditioning
Example of strength training for runners
An example of strength training for runners is shown below. All credits for this video go to Dan Lempriere for showing his functional style of strength training for runners, long distance and sprinters alike.
How to start running if you haven't started yet
1 Mile Run/Walk
Can be done lightly 3x a week
3 Mile Run
Can be done up to 3x a week
5-12 Mile Run
Intermediate/ Advanced Level
Can be done 2-3x a week
12 Mile + Run
Can be done 1-2x a week
Become Inspired to start, become the run
What's your view?
Do you do any conditioning for running?
Is conditioning for running worth it?
To conclude, I believe that conditioning for running is worth it. Using those exercises that I mentioned above, it is possible to become extremely conditioned for running and to strengthen your muscles.
As many have said Persistence is key! Persistence, perseverance and patience are the key motivators for strength training for me as persistence and perseverance remind me that I can continue to strengthen myself and remain injury free.
Patience reminds me that it takes time to do these things but that in the end, conditioning for running does pay off as it allowed me to complete a half marathon last year in a good time of 2 hours.
So I do believe that conditioning for running is worth it. Its great and it allows all of your body to become involved in the process making unilateral movements which are natural and in turn this keeps the body strong and injury free.
I hope that this is helpful as this helps me!