Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Making Your Strengths Stronger

Interesting article by Brady DeHoust on training efficiently. We all have our strongest sports, especially triathletes who will be better in one of the three disciplines, either running, cycling, or swimming (that is in order of my general strengths).  You can work on your weaknesses and leave your strengths alone, or is there a way to work on both?

Brady gives us a idea on how to strengthen our weaknesses and go on to strengthen out strengths too. The answer is to change the body’s state before you do the stronger sport workout by starting from a fatigued state.    Start fresh and work on your weaker abilities, then move to the stronger sport.  Swim before  you run  if running is your strength, e.g.  That makes you work hard on the stronger sport and thus get more benefit from that part of the workout.  You get the idea.

Try it out. I think I will.

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Do you run with music? Injured? Maybe you should think again….

Interesting article I saw this morning saying that if you are coming back from an injury, you may want to give up the music.

 Physical Therapist Chris Johnson makes the point that music hides the sound of your footstrike, masking the natural feedback that occurs and possibly masking any form issues resulting from the injury and forcing you into a pace (to match the beat) that your post-injury body may not be ready for.

Hmmmm.

Interesting point.  This is the first time I have seen this argument for not wearing earbuds while running.   I don’t recommend and don’t wear earbuds myself running outside because I can’t hear the traffic around me. I’m always concerned about not hearing that car that may run over me.  That would be a bad day.

Just another voice in the universe of running.  Make your own decisions of course, but whatever you do,  enjoy the run and stay fit!

Running Shoes and Injuries.

shoes

The Science of Sport published a very nice series of articles on running shoes,  barefoot running, foot-strike technique and the running shoe industry. The entire series of articles can be found here.  As a runner who has run in everything from pronation-control shoes to barefoot, and who has preferred the minimalist or barefoot shoes (or just plain barefoot)  for many years, this series hits home.  One quote:

“For example, it came up in the first post on our series on the Pose Running technique, where it was pointed out that ever since the “boom” in the running shoe industry about 30 years ago, the percentage of runners who get injured each year has remained pretty much the same.”

Let’s see…. that 30 year boom in running just about equates to my road racing history and experience. Running is a very stressful activity on your body — you will be injured from time to time.   My injuries were unrelated to the type of shoes that I wore. I have had sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, pulled muscles, etc. over my running career.   I have experienced less ankle sprains since I switched to barefoot/minimalist shoes (due to stronger feet?).  That’s my unscientific analysis.  Sadly, age seems to be a bigger determinant of frequency of injury and time to recover in my case.

But the more capable scientists have also made no connection between shoes and frequency of injury.  It appears that injuries caused by over-training, stress, and accidents are more common.  And they also found that the cost of the shoe didn’t matter.   Read the articles and make your own decisions. Don’t believe the marketing hype that is everywhere. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Stronger Legs for Better Endurance!

It’s all about the legs.

No matter what sport is your favorite, your legs are the primary movers and determine how long you can last.  Strengthening the leg muscles (quads, gluts, hamstrings, calves, etc.) will improve endurance. — stronger muscles don’t have to work as hard to move you along.

So what should you do?

You can go to the gym and do a half-dozen machines that work specific muscle groups – leg presses, leg raises, leg extensions, calf raises, etc. This is good but I prefer to do freestanding exercise that involve the entire body while working the more specific muscle groups. This will help prevent imbalances and related problems that can occur.

So my favorites are:

Basic: (primarily strength building)

Jumping jacks – great warmup and good starting exercise.
Squats – unweighted or weighted. Great exercise for total fitness, see 8 reasons to do squats.
Prisoner squats (wide stance, hands behind the ears)
Frog Squat ( wide stance, touch the floor with your hands)
Split squats (one leg back – unweighted or weighted)

– Note that you can add calf raises to any of these to add more work to the calves.

Intermediate: (adds quicker moves for aerobic endurance and strengthening fast twitch muscles)

Power Jacks – jumping jack where you go into a squat position for the legs-wide position then jump up.
Squat jumps. – basic squat with a jump up.
Split squat jumps. (jump form one leg back position to opposite leg back position) see.
Basketballs – start like you are picking up the ball of the floor to one side and shooting a jump shot to the other side.  Alternate sides.
Burpees and all the variations… there are an infinite number of variations.  See this . The basic burpee is a great total body workout.

Difficult:

Ultimate Burpees:  combine the basic burpee with other moves such as  push-ups,  mountain climber planks, and squat jumps.   See  this.  Burpees work all of your body and will get your heart rate up as well. The only thing slightly lacking is that they are front-back moves so don’t work the muscles that move you side to side. You can add assymetrical moves such as leg splits, single leg planks, single arm planks, etc. to work those muscles too.

source: runfitkin.com

Do 2-3 sets of one or more of these exercises  each twice week as part of your total fitness plan! You will see the results in your performance. 

See you at the races!

It’s all in the hips!

Want to be a better cyclist or runner? Most runners and cyclist have very tight and inflexible hip flexors.   Hip flexors are the muscles   that lift your legs and knees up during running  and cycling motions.

source: about.com

Build your hip flexor strength and flexibility along with your core muscles and you  will see the benefit with improved strength, flexibilty and endurance. Strong core and hip flexors will improve a runners form and efficiency. Cyclists will see better endurance through more efficient pedaling motion.

How? Do the following exercise that strengthens both while imitating the running motion of the leg.

 Stand and balance on your left leg with the right leg bent, touching the toe to the floor just behind you.

 Pull your arms together with your elbows in front of your chest and bent 90 degrees with the forearms vertical.

 Pull your right leg up in an exaggerated running motion to where the knee touches or gets as close as possible to the elbows then tap it back to the floor behind you, all the while maintaining balance on your left foot. Do this for 30 seconds in a controlled manner keeping your core tight, while balancing on the left leg.

 Without resting hold the right leg up, knee at the waist level and do small pulses up continually for 30 seconds more, still balancing on your left leg, core tight, arms touching as before.

 Next hold the right leg with the knee at waist level and extend the lower leg out and back in a smooth motion for 30 seconds. Arms are still out in front of your chest with the elbows touching and the core is held tight as before.

 Repeat this on the other side, balancing on the right leg and doing all 3 exercises with the left leg.

Doing this exercise once or twice a week in addition to your regular workouts will make you stronger and more efficient at running and cycling. An added bonus is that it will help prevent lower back pain from tight hip flexors and the imbalance that can result.

Make 2013 your strongest year ever!