Running is not the starting point, but the end point of your fitness plan

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015 931 Views 0 Comments
Running is not the starting point, but the end point of your fitness plan

There are enough and more articles providing you with a running progression calendar i.e. starting from 1-2 km per week building up to 30-40 km a week preparing you for half & full marathons. There is nothing wrong with them apart from the part that they “assume” you are doing your strength training on rest days. It is difficult to design a “single program fitting everyone” without individual assessment for flaws & weaknesses. However, the below are some guiding principles for a runner – Amatuer or existing long distance runner.

Running is not the starting point, but the end point of your fitness plan:

Before we race the car, it needs a lot of tuning and testing, with its transmission chain requiring to be strengthened up. Similarly, before you embark on a run with those spotless Nike shoes, you need to build up your muscular strength to endure the 2.5 x body weight encountered by your legs during a run. The most common exercises for building a lower body strength & the performance levels in these exercises to determine your eligibility for a run are:

  • Lunges  – This is the basic exercise emulating the principle of “Specificity” i.e. an exercise that is similar in form to a run.

Key factors elements to note – Torso erect, Front Knee not to go ahead of the toe, rear leg toe & heel to remain in line without any pronation or supination.

Fitness parameters before you embark on a run – Ability to do 20×2 sets of lunges per leg

  • Squat – This is a test of the strength of Glutes (i.e. your bum) as well as the hamstrings coupled with strength of your stabilizers, to enable you to take the impact on your knees during a run

Key factors elements to note – Torso erect, Front Knee not to go ahead of the toe, rear leg toe & heel to remain in line without any pronation or supination.

Fitness parameters before you embark on a run – Ability to do 20×2 sets ideally with 0.15x body weight

  • Deadlift

Key factors elements to note – Neutral Spine, Do not hyperextend the back.

Fitness parameters before you embark on a run – Ability to do 10x 2 sets of 30% body weight. Ensures your glutes & hamstrings, the prime movers of your run are set in correct firing sequence.

  • Plank hold

Fitness parameters before you embark on a run – Ability to hold the plank for 30 secs. This ensures you have the core strength to hold your body erect during your run.

If you can do the above, you have the strength to embark on a run & can begin your session with a gradual build up. Remember strength gain is not a one time process. So as you begin your running, the above exercise routine must continue. Also, please note that there are several other exercises of the upper & lower body beyond above. It is always advised to seek help from a certified trainer before embarking on a training program.

Running is a sport which needs “Off Season/ In Season Periodization” planning to avoid plateau & injuries:

So you started running successfully, what next? Should you run more & more & throughout the year – sure and that’s how you “Hit a plateau” or get overuse injuries. In every sport, there is a concept called periodization, wherein in different phases we train various components of the sport. These are generally 6-8 week cycles, wherein some cycles would entail No running. A typical periodized cycle for a Mumbai based runner assuming most Marathons happen from “September to Jan time frame” (In season” would look like below. This would vary not only by person but also by region/ city since weather patterns differ.

February: Active recovery i.e NO running but engage in lower intensity sports like Swimming, play tennis or engage in brisk walks. Take a lot of massages & generally let the body recover from rigors of the sporting season

March – April: Focus on gaining strength. Focus on a conditioning program for building all round strength but with higher focus on legs & core. Again there is no running during this period. 3 -4 day week sessions interspersed with Flexibity & Mobility sessions other days

May – June: Conversion to power with focus on Building endurance & to transfer the gained strength to Power e.g. Plyometrics, Olympic weight lifting, Kick boxing. In this phase runs to build lactate threshold are recommended e.g. interval circuits with fast runs for 2 mins followed by slow run for 1 min.

July – August: Shift training focus to longer distance endurance runs & building the miles. This is the culmination of the strength & power gains to focus on specificity of run. Focus on Gait & increase the running mileage.

September to Jan: In-season. Run the marathons & maintain 1-2 days a week of light strength training coupled with flexibility training to avoid in season injuries.

(Sameer Kanse is the Head of Products and Commercial, Global Media and Entertainment Solutions, Tata Communications. He is a fitness enthusiast and has done Certified Personal Training Course from American College of Sports Medicine. He is reachable at sameer.kanse@gmail.com)

 

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