Category Archives for "distance runners"

Post-Race Recovery

A proper warm-up prior to a run is important to increase the heart rate, blood circulation to the working muscles, and joint efficiency. However, cooling down is an essential component of the training process and should be completed at the end of every exercise session. It is important to cool-down after a run to transition the body back to a steady, resting state by decreasing the heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature. Cooling down also returns the muscles to their optimal length-tension relationships and returns blood from the extremities back to the heart. Skipping a cool-down or performing it incorrectly can cause your muscles to become sorer and stiffer which may lead to unwanted injuries.

The following is a guide for optimal post-race recovery:

1. Slow jog or walk
Immediately at the end of a run, it is ideal to slow your pace down to a jog or a brisk walk to gradually lower your heart rate. Ending your run abruptly may cause blood to pool in your legs instead of returning it to the heart and brain. This can lead to a risk of fainting or feelings of lightheadedness. Jog or walk for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. 

2. Hydration
Exercising will cause more sweating and loss of fluid in the body which may lead to dehydration. Restore fluid levels in your body by rehydrating with water. It is important to stay hydrated to help manage your body temperature, remove waste from your body, and protect your tissues and joints. 

3. Total Body Stretching
a. Pigeon Pose:

Begin in 4 point position on a yoga mat. To stretch the right posterior hip, including the Piriformis muscle, straighten out the left knee pushing the left foot back. Then bring the right knee forward towards your chest while supporting yourself with your hands in front. Making sure that your left and right pelvises are level with each other, bring your right foot across turning it to the left side. Then reach forward on the mat with your hands bringing your elbows towards the mat while keeping both sides of the pelvis level and down. Hold for 30 seconds and do 3 sets on each side 2 times daily.

b. Hip Flexor Stretch:

Kneel down onto your left knee. Then rotate it about 45 degrees past the midline of your body. To keep your posture nice and tall imagine there’s a string pulling your whole spine upwards from your pelvis, right up your entire back and neck and up to the top of your head. Then engage your inner core muscles tight below your belly button and keep your low back flat. Next, bend the right knee forward and keep your posture nice and tall without leaning backwards. Then reach your left arm up pointing the fingers towards the ceiling nice and high and point your right finger tips to the floor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each side.

c. IT Band / Lateral Quad Stretch:

Start by lying on your good side with the tight Iliotibial Band or “IT-Band” facing up. Keep your inner core muscles below the belly button engaged while keeping your low back flat. Then, bring the bottom knee towards your chest and with your left hand, reach down and back for your other leg above the ankle. Pull the heel back towards the bum while keeping the core engaged and the low back flat. Keeping the top knee and ankle parallel and level with the floor, lift your bottom heel onto the top part of your knee. Next, guide your lower leg down toward the floor with your heel while keeping the top leg, knee and ankle parallel and level to the floor. As the top leg is lowered down, have the top knee and thigh pointed downwards so it’s in alignment with your whole spine. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 sets 2 times daily.

d. Lat Stretch:

To stretch the right lat, place the back of your right hand to your left side in front of you while clasping it with your left hand. Reach forward to your left and keep your elbows straight. Keep your knees wide apart and the back of your feet flat on the mat. Reach forward and lean to the right arm pit. Hold for 30 seconds, do 3 sets. Repeat on the opposite side if it’s also tight!

e. Shoulder Stretch:

To stretch out the right side, reach your right hand up and down your back keeping your right elbow pointed upwards. Avoid arching the back by keeping your spine in neutral. Pull the right elbow towards midline with your left hand while keeping the right elbow pointed upwards. Hold this for 30 seconds doing 3 sets on each side daily.

f. Rolling out the Hamstrings:

Put the roller on the ground and bring your hamstring onto it. Roll up and down onto your Hamstring muscle while supporting yourself with both hands. Find the sweet spots (or the areas that hurt in a good way) and continue to roll over these areas for 3-4 minutes in total. Do this 2-3 times a day just before you stretch out the hamstring.

g. Rolling out the Calf Muscles:

4. Additional Measures
Take a 5-10 minute cold water bath to reduce swelling. Allow 1-2 days post-run to allow the body to recover before massaging any tight muscles.

Should Distance Runners Sprint?

Most runners have one big general goal: to race faster. So why do so few distance runners do speed workouts?

You might be familiar with classic workouts that many runners use in their training such as tempo runs, track intervals, hill workouts, progression runs, marathon-specific long runs. But you might be surprised to hear that none of these workouts are technically speed workouts.

Yes, they’re much faster than your easy pace and do improve your ability to race faster. However, they’re not actually “speed work.” True speed development is relatively foreign to distance runners because they are sprinter workouts, designed to improve maximal velocity, acceleration, or speed-endurance.

Let’s make sure we understand what these terms mean—so we know how to use them to make you into a faster runner.

Maximal velocity is your maximum speed. It’s how fast you can run if you try to sprint at 100 percent effort and reach your “top-end” speed.

It’s helpful to know that even Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter of all time, can only maintain maximal velocity for about 30 to 50 meters

Acceleration is how quickly you can go from a position of rest to maximal velocity. Essentially, it’s about the rate of increasing speed and it’s also a good measure of how much power you can generate.

Speed-endurance is how long you can maintain your maximal velocity. Since most of us can only maintain our maximal velocity for about 5 to 7 seconds, even big improvements on this aspect of speed won’t translate to significant performance improvements for distance runners.

For the most part, these three elements of speed aren’t the “big wins” that runners should focus on. After all, you never approach your maximal velocity or try to accelerate as fast as possible in any race from the mile on up.

Still, a small dose of speed development work in your training can pay large dividends.

Should Distance Runners Focus on Speed Development?

There are three main reasons why runners should incorporate speed development in their training.

First, it improves top-end speed. You’ll be able to sprint faster, thus increasing the range of speed that you’re capable of achieving.

This helps slower paces feel a lot easier. And if you compete in middle distance events like the 800m, mile, or 3,000m then you’ll experience tangible performance improvement.

Second, sprinting forces your legs to recruit more muscle fibers to increase its power production. By having a larger pool of fibers available, you’ll be able to sprint more effectively at the end of a race.

Finally, those speed development workouts will improve your running economy—or, rather, your efficiency. All those extra muscle fibers are now available when you’re tired, running uphill, or finishing a long run. Essentially, you have a larger pool of muscle to draw from when you’re fatigued or trying to run hard at the end of a race.

Sprinting also reinforces proper running form, further enhancing your running economy. After all, it’s much more difficult to run with sloppy form when you’re at maximal velocity.

How to Add Speed Work To Your Training

Speed development work is very challenging—not because there’s a lot of volume at fast paces or the rest is short, but because it stresses the central nervous system.

These sessions are neuromuscular, challenging the communication pathways between the brain and muscles. They require a long recovery interval and a low volume of total work. While a speed development workout may not look like a “hard workout” it will most certainly leave you quite sore after your first session.

Since they’re so difficult, it’s best to run these workouts when you’re fresh at the beginning of a workout.

After a series of dynamic warm-up exercises, some easy running, and strides, you can add several short repetitions before the main part of your workout.

Here are a few examples, with each one getting progressively more difficult:

  • 4 x 8sec hill sprints, 60-90sec walk recovery
  • 4 x 20m, 90sec – 2min walk recovery
  • 6 x 25m, 2min – 2:30 walk recovery
  • 6 x 30m, 2min – 2:30 walk recovery

The two most important things to remember about speed development for distance runners is that a small amount is all that’s necessary and you need to run as fast as possible. There’s no need to run a high number of repetitions at maximum speed.

In fact, doing so only predisposes you to a higher risk of injury. When in doubt, run fewer repetitions with longer recoveries. Play it safe!

Doing one of these workouts per week is all that’s needed to gain the power, efficiency, and speed benefits. They’re not a focus, but rather a supplemental training tool that’s available to work on an oft-neglected area of fitness for distance runners.

After 4 to 6 weeks of consistent sprint work, done in a gradual and safe way, runners are going to start feeling faster and more powerful than before.

Soon, those benefits will transfer to the longer distances and you’ll have a shiny new personal best to show for all your hard work!

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.