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Cross Training

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RUN SNACK – STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNERS

When I’m in a heavy running training cycle, I inevitably run short of time and my strength cross-training suffers (i.e. usually doesn’t happen). A way in which I have recently attempted to remedy this is to incorporate 5-6 “mini-workouts” each week, with each session being as short as 15mins up to a maximum of 30mins (and usually closer to the 15min mark).

These mini-workouts typically involve 5 sets of 4 exercises (1 ‘pushing’ exercise, 1 ‘pulling’ exercise, 1 lower-body exercise, 1 core exercise), and most often are bodyweight exercises only. One example:

5 sets of:

16 x push-ups (pushing)
8 x pull-ups (pulling)
8/side x walking lunges
16 x mountain climbers

I do make use of the TRX pretty regularly in this, as it’s a great way to include some instability in standard movements. I also occasionally use other equipment: weighted barbell, slosh tubes, skipping rope, punching bag etc.

The emphasis with these workouts is controlled strength. I’m not worried that the workouts are so short – I’m getting plenty of aerobic work from my running. I can usually multi-task these workouts too: be it cooking dinner, checking emails or folding washing, I can juggle the exercise rests with whatever the life activity is I’m trying to complete.

Short on time? Go mini!

See you out there – Juddy

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RUN SNACK – GREASE THE GROOVE

The phrase ‘grease the groove’ was coined – as far as I know – by Pavel Tsatsouline. The concept is pretty simple…if you do something often enough, you get better (and stronger) at it. Sounds pretty obvious right?

The unique point of interest to the ‘grease the groove’ approach however, is that you do many sets of low repetition exercises – at irregular intervals. It helps with examples:

I might decide that every time I go to the bathroom, I must do 5 bodyweight squats on exiting. So, if I go in and out of the bathroom 5 times during the day, I end up doing 25 squats (over the course of the day).

I may hang a door-frame chin-up bar aover my office door and do 3 chin-ups every time I pass through the doorway. Say I enter/leave my office 15 times during the day, I end up completing 45 chin-ups – try doing that in one go!

The cool thing is that this approach has been shown to increase strength and endurance: I may only ever do 3 chin-ups at a time, but you still increase your capacity for chin-ups.

How does this apply to running?

You can directly apply it by choosing exercises that work leg/core/postural muscles - squats and lunges (and variations of these) are some of my favourites – or you can just put it down to cross-training and body strengthening and go with push-ups, chin-ups etc (still good exercises for runners IMO).

The grease the groove approach takes very little extra time - you’re walking through the door, going to the bathroom, putting on your shoes, getting a coffee (etc.) anyway, why not tie an exercise to these actions and get some ‘free’ strength training?

See you out there – Juddy

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RUN SNACK – SHOULD I TAKE UP SWIMMING?

No. A very firm no.

Sorry – my first instincts are pretty rock solid on this one, but in this case they’re not correct.

I HATE swimming, most likely because I prefer things I’m good at, and swimming is no such thing. There are a few reasons however that runners would benefit from adding some regular swimming to their schedule:

  • It’s non-loadbearing. For runners who spend most of the week loading their body between 1.5 – 3 times their bodyweight at every footfall (depending on speed), this non-loadbearing form of aerobic activity is a welcome relief.
  • It’s a full body workout. Not that running isn’t, but I know my upper body sure as heck isn’t getting any bulkier the more time I spend running. A little upper body strength training in the form of water resistance while swimming can’t hurt. A stronger athlete tends to me a more resilient athlete.
    [ASIDE – does anyone else experience the irony that is a runner struggling to kick when swimming. I mean, I have pretty strong legs – what’s the go with them forgetting how to work when I jump in the pool? They basically become dead weight I have to drag up and down the pool. Man I hate swimming. I digress.]
  • It’s good for lengthening the body under load. The freestyle swimming action is a really good head-to-toe stretch, where the body is also working under resistance.
  • It’s a reminder how good running is. If I’ve had a bad week running, swimming is always a great reminder that running is in fact awesome. Internal conversation: “I’ve had a tough running week, but it could be worse – I could be a swimmer”.

And I think that’s it. There is nothing else good about swimming.

See you out there – Juddy

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