Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Training for Runners for Improved Performance & Injury Prevention- Part 3 -Getting Started

So now you hopefully have some understanding of what you may have ahead for you. First of all, you have read Part 1 and understand a little more about the type of commitment you will need to give.  Not only to achieve your running goals, but to do them well and without injury. Second, you read Part 2 and performed a self assessment on yourself and have a little understanding on what movement or muscle imbalance you need to improve on to help you succeed with your goals.

If you have not read Part 1 or Part 2, please do me a huge favor and read those before moving on. Thanks.

Now, how to get started. A few important things you need to have to begin.
  1. The right equipment
  2. Set a goal and put your ego/pride away
  3. And most importantly, A PLAN!
  • The equipment will be a proper investment into your health & goals. Think of it this way, you wouldn't send your child to play a sport with crappy equipment would you? Then why do that to yourself?  The cost is an issue.  I hate to lecture, but it is either make the investment now or pay much more later (medical bills, surgeries, physical therapy).
  • Set a goal. You want to run a half marathon by fall. Great that is a terrific goal. Why are you running in the first place? I ran a half marathon to see if I could do it and I did. Very proud of that achievement. Now if you are training for a half marathon to help you lose weight, my wife and I would both agree that there are far better ways that take less time to lose weight. But again, if this is your goal than so be it.
  • You need to have a plan/schedule for your running progression. This does not just mean mileage either. This means you plan days for recovery/regeneration, strength/prehabilitation, and for your runs.
Here is a list of things that you will need to be successful with your training.
A.   A TERRIFIC pair of
 running shoes!

This is the one piece of equipment that you will need to be the most successful in your training! Go to a running store (not the mall!)  and talk to someone about your goals for running. Running stores hire employees who will take the time to examine your feet and assess what type of runner you are from the way you walk and jog. Then they should give you a few options for shoes. 

Don't make the same mistake I did. I went to the mall and got me a pair of cool looking (and cheap!) running shoes and began training. I ended up going to a running store 2 months later since I was having so much foot cramping and pain when I was running. I found out that I needed to have a stability running shoe and that I was wearing a pair of shoes 1 size TOO SMALL! They gave me options and let me pick the shoe that felt best for me. I did not know that your feet could feel this good!

If you want to learn more about types of running shoes and how they rate and such, RUNNERS WORLD has a shoe advisor, running shoe finder, and running shoe previews available for you to determine what shoe may be best for you.

B.  Training equipment 

You will need some simple training equipment to help you to stay healthy and strong with your training program.  Here is a list of my must haves:

Very many strength coaches and rehab professionals all have their athletes perform a term called "myofascial release" on a daily basis.  With most training programs, "trigger points" develop within muscles.  These trigger points when not addressed may lead to bigger problems down the road.  If you are able to spend 10 minutes per day (especially before and after runs or any type of training) using the foam roller to work out those trigger points then your muscles that you are training so hard will maintain their flexibility, be more responsive to strength training and will recover much faster for the following day. 

This handout by Perform Better demonstrates the technique behind foam rolling. 

b.  Bands
This simple band which costs only about $3, can be used as a very important training partner for your legs.  This band will help to teach your body to stabilize your legs when running.  

I suggest buying 1 yellow, 1 green and 1 blue since they are so cheap so you can continue to progress with your training by adding the appropriate resistance.

c.  Tubing
This is the final piece of your training equipment but just as important.  Tubing is a great way to get you moving appropriately, which is the main focus of this training article.  Basically the bands and tubing will be used not only as strength training but more importantly as corrective exercise for those muscle imbalances.  These tools can be used to help you "switch on" the perfect sequence of appropriate muscles at the appropriate times.  
 I prefer the Gray Cook Band for its versatility in training, but any type of tubing will do. 

Now there are other options that I think are neces
sary to keep yourself performing like a well oiled machine, but for now.  This equipment will do and I will let you decide if you want to get others.  Personally, I would never ever train anyone for any type of sport without using some type of kettlebell training.  There is nothing that MAKES you use your muscles correctly and in unison more than a kettlebell.  I attest that I have never felt stronger and more connected than I do now.  Also if you need more of a reference, then here is one for you to remember.  Lance Armstrong uses kettlebell training to help prepare himself for his comeback.  And you just thought he would get back on the bike and only do that to prepare didn't ya.....

So in the next part of this series I will discuss more about setting your goal and developing your plan.  After that I will work on a strength training workout to compliment your running schedule.  Any comments or questions are greatly appreciated.  

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