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Thanks for that Euro. I don't know how accurate that is, but its nice to hear nonetheless.
Speaking of being levelheaded, it looks like I'll be skipping a session tonight and probably the core work also.
I had a little tweak after this mornings run that has developed into a bigger tweak. I think its likely happened because of a slight slip on the ice or possibly because I almost tripped on a chunk of pavement that had gotten spit out from a pothole. Anyway, I think I may have hyperextended (slightly) my right hip. pain and tightness originates in the top middle (front of my hip) where my quads connect to my abdomen and then the tightness extends about a quarter way around towards my backside. I'm due for a little extra sleep anyway.
Euro, when you get a chance, I'd love to hear your ideas on the circuit training.
I'm guessing you mean to replace my current supplementary training or would these circuits simply replace sessions on particular days?
Sorry, last 2 days have been frantic and I'm turning in now. I should have something concrete by the weekend (the problem is finding videos of each exercise...) but here's some rough thoughts
I'm suggesting that instead of doing light stuff most days, you do two focused harder sessions per week and aim to make measurable progress each time. (You could do a third lighter session if you want)
The circuits will involve some running-specific movements and 'bouncy stuff' and some general strength exercises for muscle endurance, and have the side effect of making you sweat buckets and rev up your system.
The weights will be to further push up the max strength of key running muscles and to help 'injury-proof' you. It's classic functional strength exercises, emphasis on single leg movements as most of us don't have full squat racks in our homes
Prelim reading on classic running circuits..
On my run this morning I was thinking of a rough outline of a weekly schedule for the next 4 week cycle based on your recommendations:
Sun - Long Run
Mon - Easy + Easy Circuit
Tue - 3 mi Treadmill Tempo (increasing in distance in subsequent weeks)
Wed - Easy Mileage + "Hard Circuit"
Thu - Easy
Fri - Easy Mileage + "Hard Circuit"
Sat - Fast Rep (interval) work out on a hill (I've got one in mind, paved and a decent grade and minimal traffic)
Of course I would keep the total mileage around the same as I'm doing now which is 80+ if I run every session.
Also considering getting out the door in the am 10 minutes earlier to give me time for some strides at the completion of my 8 milers.
The Friday circuit may mess up the Saturday hills. My hunch is this will work better...
Wed: hard circuit
Fri: steady mileage
Sun: Long run a.m.; strength work p.m.
The 'strength work' is going to be very brief, essentially a warmup and then a couple of sets of hard leg exercises. You will be sore the next day, but able to plod slowly. Sat or Sun night will both work. Will write this up tomorrow.
When you say "easy circuit" - I'm assuming that's basically some of what you are doing now (lunges/core/pushups) but at a level that does not tire you for running the next day. So, feel free to do that on any evening you feel like it. I just think that in the long run, if you are doing harder stuff on other nights, it won't give you much extra benefit and you might be better stretching or resting.
Here's how I see it "feeling"...
- The Tuesday night tempo probably won't tire you much and your legs should have energy for the circuit the next day. This is important as you want to be quite 'psyched up' and able to do explosive stuff. Definitely better the day after tempo than the day after hard reps!
- On Thursday (for the first 2-3 weeks at least) you'll probably find you are getting stiffer throughout the day in various muscles, especially calves. This will be a little like getting used to spikes.
- At first Friday's run might need to be easy, but 3 weeks in, you should be fully recovered on Friday, and able to do a 'medium' pace run rather than a 'recovery' pace one.
- Saturday will be fairly invigorating (as long as you control the pace) and you'll have energy left. The heavier strength exercises could be done on Saturday night if you're at home, or on Sunday night; either one works. The main thing is to be 100% recovered for Tuesday.
I presume the tempo and circuits will be evening, and you're doing the easy 8 each morning. It's apparently good to do strength work at night, as there is probably protein in your system from dinner and your body can do the 'repair work' overnight.
As for strides: personally I never feel springy and fluid in the morning; if it was me I'd do them in the evening. How about doing half a dozen on Tuesday on the treadmill, after a warmup mile but before the tempo? You'll be fresh, and the tempo pace after will feel really easy. Or, if the tempo is before kids' bedtime, do some strides half an hour later.
The main thing is to have two points each week - Tue+Sat - when you feel fresh and able to run smoothly and fast.
Hope this makes sense...
Yes. You'll probably end up with two 10-15 minute bouts of exercise, which is plenty. Nothing wrong with doing one set the first couple of times though.
I'm with ya, Euro.
It has structure and purpose. Obviously the results remain to be seen, but I think I have a pretty decent chance of some nice progress with that plan. I can't thank you enough for putting so much time into pulling that together for me.
I'll also comment that mentally its going to be a bit easier to pull off than my current schedule, which as you know is pretty repetitive. Essentially, there something just a little different to do each day and I like that.
It is interesting, part of the reason I created this thread was in some way to create some accountability outside my own twisted head towards achieving my unrealistic goals. You've provided that in a big way. Thanks!
If my body can hold up, perhaps my goals won't be so unrealistic?
I think beating your youthful PBs is a realistic target. A bunch of friends of mine from college, with similar youthful PRs to you, are running around those times in summer track leagues.
I am aiming for a similar place to you and I believe it's realistic for me this summer. I'm a little way down the road to it (16:34 in a howling gale last Saturday, 3 weeks into light speedwork, and a serious XC race tomorrow which will show me where I am in the local pecking order, and finally slimming down thanks to your inspiration...).
I'm also starting to get into coaching locally and this is a good exercise for me to get this stuff written down; I'm very keen to know how your body reacts.
I promised a strength workout too. This is going to be ultra-simple - but preceded by my usual lecture ;-)
Primary goal is to progress safely to being able to do a single leg squat. This exercise will hit the key running muscles really hard, require balance and coordination, and take minimal time and energy. And once learned it can be done anywhere.
As a secondary optional goal, learn Olympic lifts using submaximal weights (e.g. barbells up to half of bodyweight). No prescriptions on weight/sets/recovery, just learn the technique. I am on this learning curve myself now and really enjoying it.
Quick summary of theory and reasoning:
Traditional strength training guidelines for runners has been about the same (to those in the know e.g. national coaches, sprinters) for 30-40 years: 3-6 exercises, 3-6 reps, 3-6 sets, 3-6min between sets. A typical routine involves
- squats (as deep as possible)
- cleans (use just about everything)
- romanian (stiff legged) deadlifts for the hams
For a complete body workout, add some pushups as the squats and cleans use just about everything bar the chest.
A good international 400 runner should progress over the years to 2 sets of 6 reps on 1.5 x bodyweight. Coe did this. Paula apparently does too. Jon Edwards, the triple jumper, was over 2 x bodyweight. If learning to squat well, start on as little as 0.25xbodyweight (just an Olympic bar) but you will probably quickly get up to 60% bodyweight.
However, in the early weeks one should start on an 8-12 rep range, as jumping into new exercises at 90% max strength is dangerous. And for Masters in danger of muscle loss, being in the 8-12 rep range is probably good, as we could all use a tiny bit of hypertrophy.
If one can get taught properly, Olympic lifts are even better than back squats, as they intrinsically need and build explosive power. Every top T&F coach in the UK (and AFAICT in the USA) going back 50 years has said these are the ultimate tools for athletes.
This kind of workout needs proper Olympic bars (fat bar + big rubber discs), and a really solid squat rack, ideally with side bars for safety. So it's best in a weights room and not practical for the home. You cannot safely get a barbell onto your shoulders which is heavy enough to do near-max squats anyway.
My "coach" (actually my club's coach, who has a sprint/hurdles background, so we're sort of mentoring each other and I'm trying to teach him more about distance) learned his stuff from UK Athletics' top strength coach, and he got me doing this 2 years ago. I got a LOT stronger and I am sure it has helped prevent injury. But I have also discovered I am one of a significant minority whose back gets very tired from heavier squats, which affects my running, so I am working single-leg exercises now with great results.
Mike Boyle's book "Functional training for sports" is excellent on this. I have it, but don't have his later one which may be better. He covers Olympic, traditional and body-weight exercises. He has recently changed his position and moved heavily away from squats to single-leg exercises, to take weight off the back for all his athletes, and 'one legged' is more relevant to running.
Unfortunately almost nobody has written much about balancing this stuff with serious (70mpw+) endurance training. They conflict quite badly: if you lift to exhaustion you will be unable to do decent running training for 48 hours afterwards. So, for distance runners, the guidelines seem to be
- do small quantities of work where you try to recruit 90% of your fibres (maybe 2 sets, once a week); other lighter sessions of circuits or weights are fine, as is 'greasing the groove' with lighter sessions to practice the technique
- do it a few hours after some other quality session, when you were planning an easy day afterwards
- when you have a quiet patch in your running cycle (e.g. end of season break) then work like mad on your strength 2-3x per week as you can progress faster without the miles getting in the way!
Onto the routine...
1. Warm up very thoroughly. Mile jog, lunges, light core, whatever.
2. Get a light barbell and start working through some preparatory lifts, focusing solely on technique - nowhere near failure, ever. Split squats, front squats, jumps/burpees etc. Plenty of online tutorials, and Mike's book helped me a lot.
3. We finish with a single leg 'progression' building towards a single leg box squat. Ultimately we're just looking at two work sets per leg, with anywhere from 3 to 12 reps, but if you want to build up through some lighter sets that's fine. The exercise has elements of a "party trick" in that once you've learned it, it's easier to repeat.
I found stacks of different Youtube videos on these. I am hoping I can get a link or twi past the Letsrun spam machine. Here is what I am doing..but DO NOT TRY TO COPY IT YET!
I used to hold a 10lb weight in front as a counterbalance (as Mike Boyle recommends) - makes it much easier. I got up to 12 reps lately so have started to add weight and dropped downt to 3-4 reps again.
One way to build towards it is via these exercises. By all means spend a week or two on each of them.
Bulgarian split squat with barbell (great for mobility)
Single leg squat holding a strap (google "TRX single leg squats then use a sheet/rope)
Single leg squat holding a doorframe
Another way is with no weight as this guy says...
There is also a great demonstration by Zuzana on www.bodyrock.tv - she is much nicer to look at ;-)
As usual I re-read it and realise I said something confusing.
Heavy squats with your bodyweight or close to it need a proper squat rack.
Olympic lifts (snatch, clean and jerk, front squats, split squats) are all done from the floor with a much lighter weight (I use around half bodyweight) so perfectly suitable for home, as long as (a) your ceiling isn't so low that you punch holes in it, and (b) you have some kind of mat to protect the floor!
First, I'm going to take some time and really study your post before I give a response with any questions. I've read it through once, but I've got to get my head around it. I'm also going to post some more details about the core routine and weight routines I've been doing to date and also the equipment we own, just in the interest of being thorough.
Second, I'm glad that you get to "practice" a little with me in your new endeavor of coaching. At the very least, there is a small amount of mutual benefit. I'm Catholic, so a little guilt was starting to creep into my psyche about all the free help you've been providing :) !
Third, This morning I had to balance the potential harm of running with a sore throat and as yet unhealed right hip in 15 degrees F weather. I decided to stay in bed, but of course our 18 month old quickly cured me of the extra sleep I thought I was going to get. If I feel good this evening I'll get in 4 to 8 miles on the treadmill.
It's hard to understand this stuff analytically; you have to try a few of the exercises. There are hundreds of ways to do this and I may well have used 10x more words than needed and needlessly complicated it - I tend to do this.
The main thing is that we find a way to use 90% of the fibres in your legs, for a few seconds, once a week. A few single-leg squats, or even a dozen vertical jumps with good rest, will do the job.
This last one is probably the least important part of the schedule. Many distance runners got to the top without any formal strength training (although they probably got it informally from big hills...).
Anyway, you have a race this weekend, which is way more important than worrying about strength routines. Good luck!
Thanks for the well wishes Euro.
I have always had some element of strength training when I'm training if you catch my meaning.
I do believe in the concept, especially in my circumstance. It seems I'm a bit fragile and the injury prevention elements of a strength routine are key for me.
Here are some addtional details about the routines I have been doing:
Start with a hip stretch where I lay on the floor, knees up and feet a little wider than shoulder width, back flat on the floor and trying to maintain the position of my stomach. Then, I rotate my knees from one side to the other, getting them as flat to the floor as I can. I've been doing 10 to each side.
Next, pelvic thrusts from the same position. 15 reps.
Standard plank for 1 minute
Standard plank with 1 foot raised, 30 seconds for each foot, 2 sets.
Side plank, 30 seconds each side. (Full arm extension on these)
Onto standing exercises, starting with a hamstring stretch where I balance on one foot and bow foward while extending the opposite foot out in a straight line with my upper body. 10 reps on each leg.
Then, 3 reps on each side of the "World's greatest stretch"
Backward lunge with side tilt, 10 reps per side. I'm really awful at these.
Side to side squats, 10 reps per leg.
Knee grab and upward thrust, 10 reps per side
Finally, Cross over lunges, 10 reps per side
Weights - I do 4 exercises.
Military Press 12 reps with about 65 lbs and then I immediately do bent dumbbell rows (25 lbs dumbbell), 10 reps each side. I do 3 sets of this "superset".
Then, I'll do upright rows, 12 reps fairly light weight followed immediately by 12 reps of bicep curls with the same barbell. I do 3 sets of this "superset".
The squats I have been doing on what I've been calling a balance ball, but the proper term is BOSU Balance Trainer.
and of course the lunges.
Push Ups, I've been doing 4 sets of 25 reps.
Equipment - I won't repeat what I wrote earlier regarding the weights we have, but I did want to describe our bench a little bit better. It is a sturdy, well made bench with an attachment for leg extensions and leg curls and also a preacher curl pad (removable).
The standards are adjustable, they are not attached to the bench and we have the safety racks that can be adjusted. Point being is with a little rearranging of our space I could set things up to do heavier squats.
I just wanted to point something out here. If you are like me, and the majority of your injuries are connective tissue (joints) then some care should be incorporated into your overall approach. If my muscles get too strong too fast, there is the capability to put too much strain on the connective tissue. The connective tissue has really poor circulation relative to muscle and grows, adjusts, and heals much slower. Of course, greater muscle strength also results in a constant increased stimulus for the connective tissues, resulting in greater growth over time.
The trick to these comebacks in balancing your workload so you keep the process moving without overstressing the connective tissue. It always seems to mess up right when you think you are getting to the next level.
Simple concept: Intentional plateaus.
Thanks for that post. If I'm reading you right, I think you're encouraging caution as I adopt these new strength routines into my overall schedule.
I think that this is good advice and I intend to do my level best to not injure myself.
PM's dead right. We only want to change one or two things, gradually. Work in very gradually over 3-4 weeks.
ID, that's a very comprehensive routine for core, legs and "lateral stuff" (many runners are vulnerable as they just move in one plane), and upper body. Keep doing it. My mental checklist says 3 small things are missing though..
1. Calves: I'd definitely add in a couple of sets of ten calf raises on a step. Stand with toes on a step or thick book, hands holding someting. Lower down all the way, then up onto your toes. Good stretch, and early warning of injuries.
2. Ankle rotation. Sit down and rotate each ankle slowly 5 times each way. Again, good 'early warning' of kinks in the side muscles being brought on by high mileage and pounding. Standing on the Bosu (either surface) and using it as a 'wobble board' is good too, but you might do that in your squats already.
3. Back extension, hamstrings: maybe add a back plank? (rest on elbows and heels, like a front one upside down). You can intensify it by alternately raising one leg and the other.
I just tried the "world's greatest stretch" - that's a very good one, thanks!
As I see it the weights you do now are focused on arms and shoulders. For someone looking for general fitness, who figures running deals with the legs and they need something for upper body to be balanced, that's fine. But if you want to developing maximum strength and power in the main running muscles, we need a lot more than 10lb weight on the squats.
We need a heavy 'leg push' which (after an introductory period) uses 90% of your fibres and gets the hardly-ever-used-in-distance-running fast twitch fibres recruited. This will make all running paces feel easier and prevent injuries.
Squats and/or cleans with barbells are the big traditional exercises. I suggested the single leg bodyweight variant as physical therapists say it's better, and it doesn't need a squat rack. If you are lifting close to bodyweight and close to exhaustion with a barbell, you need to be able to drop it if you get into trouble. My wife wouldn't like that ;-) But doing back squats carefully and adding 10lb each week should be pretty safe for a few weeks.
Why don't you play it safe and do one or two sets of each in each session? Even doing the lightest ones will probably produce some quad and glute soreness which is a sign it's working. 4 weeks hence you'll know which you like best.