Perfect Your Form:
60-75% of runners will experience an injury within his or her lifetime. That’s too many! Here’s how to avoid injuring yourself:
Every one runs a little bit differently. So technically speaking, there is really no such thing as “the perfect running form.” You can however, improve the mechanics of your form through minor adjustments. And with these minor adjustments, you could potentially revolutionize they way you run and avoid injury forever.
In recent years, there is a lot of back and forth banter about heel striking and mid-foot striking and which is better. Heel striking is generally frowned upon because it is usually indicates an over stride. Over-striding is when you land in front of your hips as opposed to under them. When you land in front of your hips your center of mass is displaced and therefore the impact of each step is much greater on your knees and shins, making you 10 time more susceptible to injury. However, landing close to your body (under your hips) reduces that impact since the center of your mass is, well, centered.
So it really doesn’t matter if you are a heel to toe striker, or a mid-foot striker. Landing under your hips (foot placement) is the solution to your shin splints, not where you land on your foot.
Landing under your hips will inevitably increase your cadence as well. Your cadence is the number of strides you take per minute. The more steps you take per minute, the less time you spend on the ground, which means less impact on your body.
Build an Aerobic Base Through Cross Training
If you want to build up your aerobic base (A.K.A. stamina.endurance) your biggest mistake is going to be to run more. Racking up the mileage, especially if you are a beginner, is a certifiable way to get injured. DON’T DO IT!
Instead, expose your body to different forms of cardio and training. Constantly shock your body. Metabolic conditioning is going to be your best bet if you want to train “like you’re running,” but you’re not really running. Metcon style training is in interval format, where you work for a period of time, and then rest for a period of time. The rest periods allow your body to recover so that when you do work, you are at full capacity. This will improve your V02 max (lung capacity) and how efficiently your body pumps blood to a from your heart and muscles. You can do Metcon training through body weight exercises or other forms of cardio, like cycling and swimming.
Strength Training and Why it Works
I think a lot of runners dread the word strength training. Because we like to run. But I hate to break it to you.. you gotta’ do it. And here’s why.
The whole point of strength training is to increase structural fitness. By increasing your structural fitness (bones, ligaments and joints), you are helping your body to withstand the impact from running. You are giving your bones, ligaments, and joints a little bit more of a buffer. Strength training not only helps with injury prevention, but it can also increase your overall running economy by making you more powerful in terms of speed.
The most effective way to implement strength training is to do compound movements (complex lifts) , body weight exercises, and anything with triple extension (i.e deadlifts, cleans & snatches). Your posterior chain (glitters, hamstrings and quads) is the powerhouse of movement for your stride. So leg exercises, like lunges and back squats, will not only help you to become a stronger runner, but the lean muscle you gain is going to shed the extra fat and increase your metabolism as well.