Lifting – Adding a lifting cycle to an existing running regiment will make you a better runner. This type of cross training makes you more powerful and more efficient. It will also decrease the amount of time spent running, limiting the risk of injury.
Dr. Oliveria, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando states, “If you’re training for a marathon or a half-marathon, you’ve got to build up the mileage slowly and not do a long run every day, back to back,” he says. You might do a three-mile jog one day, then the next day do some cross training to build up leg strength and hip strength; maybe the next day do your longer run, and then take a day off, he says. “[Your routine should] depend on your level of experience and your goal, using pain and soreness as your guide,” he says. “If you’re very sore the day after a run, it would not be wise to go for a run that day,” he says.
I like that he says using “pain and soreness as your guide.” This is true for running and lifting. When you work out, essentially, you are breaking down your muscles. So the rest days allows for your muscles to have time to recover in order to rebuild; making you a stronger athlete. If you don’t have this recovery time, you will never get stronger. This is why lifting cycles, and 1 rep max percentages are imperative to know and understand.
For example, shin splints come from putting to much pressure on your tibia bone. Although, the reason you are getting shin splints isn’t necessarily because you run too much, its because the muscles around your bone aren’t strong enough to withstand the pressure put on your tibia.
Bones grow stronger in response to muscles growing stronger. It goes hand in hand.
According to Running World, “if you are a serious runner and would like to run faster or farther you need greater strength endurance—especially of the hip flexor muscles—to be able to drive the thigh forward the same way and through the same range of motion (ROM) on each stride in order to maintain your speed. From analyzing hundreds of runners from the 1500 meters and longer, the number-one reason for slowing down is the inability to continually drive the thigh forward through the same ROM.”
Improving range of motion through hip joint flexion, hip joint extension, and ankle mobility exercises will make your runs smoother and effortless.
If you want to get faster, you need to start doing joint-specific strength exercises or lifts that use the same neuromuscular pathways as running. Incorporating a strength conditioning program into your existing running regiment that duplicates the neuromuscular usage of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways is how you become a better, more efficient athlete.
Start Doing: Cleans, back squats, deadlifts, and snatches.
Speed Work– I can’t stress enough how important speed work is for distance runners. Speed work helps you improve your lung capacity, conditions your body to endure stress better, and increases your overall strength. Stop running all those miles; especially the more experienced runners. The milage is there.
Running distances takes a toll on the body. Try and scale down the marathons and start tailoring your program to accommodate smaller races, but race them. You will get more out of this, mentally and physically.
Running is a funny sport. People either love it, or they hate it. But your body probably hates it most. Not only is longterm running unhealthy for your knees, but there’s been research conducted on the unhealthy correlation between running distances and your heart health.
“A study published in the British medical journal Heart, however, showed that people who work out too hard for too long may actually erase some of the healthy benefits of moderate exercise.Their research showed that high-intensity exercise sessions lasting longer than one to two hours can overload the heart. After years of excessive exercise, thickening of the heart tissue may develop. In some cases, this scar tissue can create the possibility of dangerous irregular heartbeat and even sudden death.”
Additionally, I would also be inclined to explain the SAID Principle of training to help you better understand why speed work is imperative to making you a better runner. The SAID Principle states, when your body is placed under some form of stress, it starts to make adaptations that will allow the body to better withstand that stress.
Consequentially, speed training increasing your VO2 Max (maximal oxygen intake), and builds up your lactic threshold (the exercise intensity at which the blood concentration of lactate and/or lactic acid begins to exponentially increase). Ever hear of hitting a wall when you run? Or some days you set out and you’re just super fatigued? If you are working on speed work, when you begin to hit the wall, your body will have plenty of reserve lung capacity from speed intervals, and strength, from being explosive, to withstand the stress.
Have the Right Shoes – Not so much for the actual run, but more so to prevent longterm injury. Yes, you want the shoe that fits well, but you also want the shoe that prevents longterm wear and tear on your body.
In order to know what shoe best fits you, you need you have to have a better understanding of your body’s biomechanics. A.K.A. the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of how you are made up.
There are 3 things you need to look for when finding the right shoe for your body.
- How high is your arch?
- What are your motion mechanics? (underpronator, overpronator, normal)
- How does your foot strike the ground? (Ball first, heel first, midfoot, extreme heel to toe)
Runner’s World has an excellent quiz for you to assess how your body moves.