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091: The Skill Many Runners Neglect

Uncategorized Jun 06, 2019

In today’s episode we discuss one of the often neglected components of base building, balance and stability training.  To be fair, strength training should be a continuous process, but if you are also in the process of increasing mileage, do not fall for the trap of spending more time running at the expense of stability training.  

Running is basically a constant repetition of hopping from one foot to the next with very little time spent on the ground during each step during which you need to create enough power to propel your body back off the ground and forward.  We run through some snazzy number in the episode, but the idea is that during an hour long run, you somewhat perform a 20 minute single leg stance. Try that, and you are likely to be much more sore than from the run.

As we run, we use some strategy to not fall over.  First the stabilizing muscles in the ankle fire, then the muscles stabilizing the knees and hip keep our posture upright and not curvy.  Finally, our momentum and gravity are acting so strong, that we must take another step forward and continue to run.

To make sure this entire process works smoothly, we should check in from time to time to see how the muscles are doing.  The check is pretty easy, stand in front of a mirror on one foot. Or record yourself standing on one leg. Try to hold for 30 seconds and then test the other foot.  Over this period of time, you will notice whether the instability is coming from you ankle, knees, or hips.

Too build up these muscles, just like building the foundation of running, you need to start easy.  You can simply perform single leg stances. To add difficulty, you can change the surface to grass, sand, or a pillow.  You can add in arm movement. You can close your eyes. A regular yoga routine would work wonders for increasing stabilizer strength.  

Once you are feeling pretty stable with static holds, you can try some plyometric training.  This increases the ability to generate power quickly during the short time interval of ground contact time.  It also helps you fire the needed muscles in the correct coordination for the best movement.

The episode then moves into finding balance in training and life and how that might not be the best plan for your long term happiness.  You should really listen to see all the directions that conversation moves.  

Resources:

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