Only the strong survive
ď śIf you feel your training is becoming stale youâ€™re stale, you re getting repetitive niggling injuries, or youâ€™re not getting faster, then strength g training g is for y you. When you y think about increasing your running speed there are a few things that come to mind.
ď śFor instance, going out on the road and doing long slow distance (LSD) work for hours on end, hill running; running on different terrains such as sand or mud,, or doing fartlek or interval training is a few examples of increasing speed. ď śItâ€™s likely that you have tried all if not some of these techniques already, and although lth h you can gett results lt with ith all ll these techniques there are limitations to just using running to improve speed. speed
ď śWe all have muscle imbalances caused by over used muscles shortening and becoming stronger and underworked muscles lengthening g g and becoming g weaker during running. This can lead to injury. You only need to think about the pain that you experience in the back off your legs if you touch your toes to know that over using a muscle makes it tight. tight
ď śWhen one muscle becomes short or tight, its because that muscle is now too strong. There will be another muscle in your body y y around that joint j that becomes long and weak. For this reason strength training at least three times a week is great because strengthening the muscles which become weak readdresses the imbalance at the joint joint, improves core stabilisation, and can prevent injuries like runners knee.
However, to improve speed we still need to train the key muscles around the ankle hip and knee joints and not just the ones that will keep p us injury j y free.
ď śCan strength training really help me? ď śI want you to get away from the myth that weight training builds big muscles and makes you slow and bulky bulky. It may surprise you to know that some of the top p runners in the world have been doing g strength training for many years.
ď ś In fact Paula Radcliffe does strength work at least 3 times a week, week and she sheâ€™s s a world champion so I want you to think about how you can use strength training to become a better runner. The important thing is to know what type of changes you want to experience from strength training, training because the type of adaptation you get from strength training whether it is increased bulk, improved endurance or increase in power is dependent on how many repetitions performed, the intensity and how long you rest for between sets.
ď śIncreasing running speed ď śYour running speed is determined by two things, your stride length and your leg turn over speed. speed Both of these variables can be improved with coaching and training g but at some p point y you will reach an optimal stride length and leg turn over speed.
Once you are at your optimal stride length and leg turnover rate the only thing you can do to increase your running g speed p is to increase how much force you produce in each stride, which is where weight training comes in.
ď śFirstly, it increase the force production of your legs legs, which means that if you currently use 30% of your maximum force in each stride than increasing gy your maximum strength will mean that your average force production will increase with every stride you take.
On average it takes 1400 steps to complete a mile (this can vary according to stride length and leg turn over speed), so a 5% increase in force p production with every stride you take over 5 miles will knock minutes off your time.
Another important change your body experience is an increase in the rate of force development. I want you to picture yourself jumping y j p g as high g as y you can. The first thing you do is bend your knees to lower your body and jump from your bottom position. This is called a counter movement. Now if you produced d d the th same counter t movement and held your knee position at the bottom for 5 seconds and then jump you’ll find that you won’t jump as high.
ď śThis is because your muscles are like an elastic band, band and by stretching it before producing a movement you can produce more force called elastic energy. gy This elastic energy can be trained and like in jumping there are many pre stretches that occur during running at the knees, hips and ankles.
ď śOnce you train elastic energy through strength training your muscles will be able to produce force faster, and therefore allows the muscle more time to relax causing a more economical running stride. This in turn will lead to better blood flow f around the body, which will provide more oxygen and energy to the body leading to a longer time to exhaustion, so that you will feel stronger and last longer. Letâ€™s Let s go over some of the best exercise for strength training. ď ś
Exercises to improve Strength When doing weights you have to decide whether to do free weights or machine weights The advantage of doing machine weights. weights is that they are easy to use. However many y exercises are isolated movement patterns and running is an integrated movement pattern so you won’t ’t gett a greatt amountt off transference t f into your running performance.
ď śFree weights takes more skill and knowledge to use, use but because of the extra stabilisation required to control the weight g y you will get g better stabilisation at the joints, and dependent on the exercise you will develop better core strength.
One of the best exercises to perform in order to improve running speed and core strength is a squat because it recruits a large g muscle mass,, works the hip p and knee joint in a similar movement pattern to running.
This takes a lot of core strength to control the weight constantly going through your spine while you’re lowering yourself to the floor. y The squat also lengthens and strengthens the hamstrings (back of the leg), strengthens the glutes (buttocks) and will teach you how to activate the deep abdominal muscles (core).
ď śAnother exercise is the lunge, which is similar to doing a squat but in a split stance. This exercise has all the benefits of a squat, q , but has the added advantage g of closely mimicking the running action due to the split stance. Here are Geraldâ€™s top exercises for f improving running including injury prevention exercises and stretches to maintain balance between the joints:
ď ś Lunge: this is similar to the running stance as you have one foot in front of the other and it engages the core. Keep your chest up, pull your tummy in and lower yourself till your knee is a few inches from the floor.
ď ś Bench press: it is important to have a whole body approach to weights and this is a great exercise to improve upper body strength. Start with the bar above your chest, and lower the bar to the middle of the chest. Keep your elbow under the bar, and lower back on It may feel wobbly at first so try with no weight on the bar first time. time
ď ś Squat: this exercise is great for engaging the core and developing leg power. Keep your tummy pulled in, and have your feet shoulder width apart. Lower your body to the floor until your knees are at 90 degrees. Maintain a straight back all the way through th h by b keeping k i your chest h t raised. i d
Upright Row: This exercise works your upper back muscles. Keep your elbows high and the bar close to the chest. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than your waist. Raise the bar as high as you can go, but your wrists must remain below your elbows, and the bar should be no more than an inch from your body.
ď ś Bent over row: Great exercise for strengthening the back. It also improves core strength because you need to engage the abdominal muscles to protect the back. Take a wide grip of the bar at 1 and a half times shoulder width. Keep the back straight as your arms hang down, pull the bar to just below the chest. Keep your elbows above the bar all times.
The Bridge. This is great for working the buttocks, if these muscles arenâ€™t functioning properly it places allot of stress on the back. Keep your feet close to the bum, and hip width apart. Raise your bum as high as you can until til your kknees, hi hip and d shoulder h ld jjoints i t are iin a straight t i ht liline
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If you feel your training is becoming stale, you're getting repetitive niggling injuries, or you're not getting faster, then strength traini...