Coach Julie – Cap City Team Coach, Exercise Physiologist and Owner of Seven Studios
As you prepare for the big day by increasing your mileage each week, there are some other ‘secret weapons’ to your training program that can help you to go the extra mile. Studies tell us that when we are looking to increase our ability to perform a sport, it is best to train for specificity – that is – primarily focus your training program on recruiting the muscles that you need to perform that activity – in the way you need to recruit them. So, if you plan to run Cap City, most of your training should be running. However, studies also tell us that if we only training muscles to perform certain activities, we run the risk of injury when we get tired and don’t take advantage of the benefits the body receives when you cross-train.
Below, I am listing out a few workouts you can do, while training for the Cap City Half marathon, that can help you to run a little stronger, a littler faster and/or stay safer in your training program. After I’ve listed the exercises, I’ve broken down why these particular exercises will help you in your performance on race day.
1.) Yoga – many believe yoga is just stretching. And, it can be. But what yoga can do is stimulate your muscles to stabilize your body, balance better, become stronger through body weight movements, and improve flexibility. As runners, we tend to get tight in certain areas, such as hamstrings and hip flexors. Yoga can help keep these more limber to provide greater range of motion, possible improvement of stride, less likelihood of injury and overall, allow your body to feel better, and recover quicker after a long run. I recommend yoga 1-2 days a week – to help repair, restore and recover your muscle breakdown from your runs. Want to see some examples of Yoga for Runners? Check out my 15 minute youtube video focused on hips and the lower back – created just for runners/walkers!.
2.) Pilates or core workout – (Pilates is a specific form of core/back exercises). My recommendation is to focus on some form of abdominal, hip and back strengthening throughout your training program. This is one of the areas that I truly believe is a secret tool that anyone can use to improve their endurance, time and/or performance in any sport. I train several professional athletes and this is the number one area we focus on to help them improve their game. For the NBA players I’ve worked with – they are more agile on the court because their core is stronger and can hold them upright better so the rest of their body can do the complicated work. For the PGA Golfers, their swing is better by how they carry their posture and hold their body. For runners – when the core is strong, the legs don’t have to worry so much about balance, and can focus on moving faster. When the core is weak, not only does posture suffer and create more work for the body to carry itself throughout the race, but the legs have to jump in and focus on balance more- thus slowing them down from simply executing on rapid muscle fiber firing. And, since running is a forward-motion exercise, it can pull into the lower back, especially when the core fatigues. Our back must be strong in order to help support the upright position our body carries itself in throughout our run. I recommend core/back and hip work several times a week – it can even be added at the end or beginning of a run. Want a core workout? Check out my 30 minute core workout on youtube.
3.) Something that you have never tried before – When you try a workout you have never done before, you stimulate muscles in a different way. It keeps the body and the brain active to think about communicating and firing new signals to stimulate movement. Trying a new activity keeps your mind fresh, allows you to stay out of the rut of just doing the same thing all the time and allows your body to activate muscles in different ways. This is commonly called, Muscle Confusion, but in general, to me, it simply means we are trying to keep a fully functional and injury proof body ready and active for daily living. If we only do what we’ve always done, we run the risk of atrophying or losing muscle strength in areas that aren’t stimulated by our workout program. This results in an unbalanced body. Try something different once a week or every few weeks just to mix it up – but just remember – it is new, and you don’t want to overdo it and hurt your running program – so keep it light and interesting as you embark on a new format. Make it fun.
Your primary focus during this time is going to be running/walking, however, by adding these simple additional exercises/workouts into your program, you may see an improvement in your time, endurance, performance, and/or how you feel and recover at the end of a run. Make sure, too, to give yourself a day or two of rest each week to allow the body to truly recover.
Do you have a question you want me to answer, either through this blog or a personal response? Simply email me at email@example.com!
Make it a great week everyone! Here’s to the pep in your step as you get closer to game day! Here’s to a great journey ahead!
(All photos are from Seven Studios)