One of the better articles I have read by Alec Isabeau, D.C. published in Fleet Feet Sports Santa Rosa newsletter. There’s so much more to running than just running…or at least there should be if you want to maximize performance and minimize injury.
Gone are the days of imagining that simply running more miles per week would magically translate into optimum race performance. It’s no mere coincidence that truly successful runners, those who race consistently well and run healthfully year after year, generally embrace a holistic approach to their training. That is, they do much more than just run. Whether we’re striving for peak race performance this upcoming season, or intending to run happily for many decades, we all need to embrace powerful fitness strategies that have emerged in recent years. Here’s a quick hit list of some key points to consider:
- Quality trumps quantity, every time. We get the best fitness bang for the buck by emphasizing intervals, tempo runs, fartleks, hill repeats and the like, versus merely running longer and longer, day after day after day.
- Get strong, stay strong. Endurance, power and orthopedic durability, all crucial for the high performance runner, are derivatives of strength. Devote yourself to a twice a week regimen of upper and lower body strength training, using free weights and body weight exercises — don’t waste your time on fancy weight machines. Develop a body that is strong,
lean, coordinated and powerful, not frail and fragile, nor big and bulky.
- Improve your mobility, stability and symmetry. Stellar cardio-respiratory and metabolic fitness are wasted on joints and limbs that are stiff, wobbly and imbalanced. Optimize your fundamental athletic movement patterns with activities such as yoga, Pilates, core exercises and mobility drills. Identify your weak links and patiently work on your deficiencies. Learn how and when to stretch properly and how to use a foam roll, massage stick or professional manual therapy as part of your body maintenance program.
- Recognize that everything affects your running. Sleep, diet, work, school, stress, fatigue, mood, motivation, illness, injury, hormones, medications and myriad other factors contribute to our running triumphs and humilities. Address these factors as best you can and and accept that we can’t control all these things, all the time. Chaos and uncertainty are part of the game and that’s the beauty of the race: a frank assessment of our abilities on a particular day, with all those factors thrown into the mix.
- Don’t trip over yourself. Nothing ruins racing more than imagining that our self-worth is determined by our pace, time or place. Show up, do what you can, learn and celebrate.
In summary, there’s so much more to successful running than simply running. Run smart, run fast, run long,…but don’t just run.