To top
Hide Show Categories

Tag Archives: Endurance

  • Fast Abs

    By Alyssa Shaffer

    A generation ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find elite runners paying attention to their abs. Today, it’s practically mandatory. “Our coaches drill the importance of core conditioning into our heads,” Says world champion hurdler Lolo Jones. “We’re at it all the time.” That’s because scientists and coaches now know that you can’t run your best without a strong core, the muscles in your abdominals, lower back, and glutes. They provide stability, power, and endurance that runners need for powering up hills, sprinting to the finish, and maintaining efficient form mile after mile. “When your core is strong, everything else will follow,” says Greg McMillan, a running coach in Flagstaff, Arizona, who has worked with scores of elite and recreational runners. It’s the foundation for all of your movement, no matter what level of running you’re doing.

    The key is to train your core like a specialist. Experts have mapped out precisely how the movements of running draw on the strength and stability of the glutes, obliques, and ab muscles that lie deep beneath the six-pack. They’ve learned how essential it is for runners to engage these muscles to finish fast, reduce pain, and hang tough on long runs. Best of all, they’ve tailored workouts to help them do that.

    All runners – from those rehabbing injuries to elite gunning for PRs-can benefit from this detailed approach. “When all the muscles involved in running are supported, and the muscles in the hips and trunk work together you don’t get as many injuries and can enjoy running more,” says Phil Wharton, a musculoskeletal therapist and co-owner of Wharton Performance Group in New York and the Wharton Health Experience in Flagstaff.

    Quality core work isn’t easy. But it doesn’t require more than 15 minutes a few times a week-an investment that will pay dividends on the road. Just ask Lolo Jones. Even in the off-season, she’s working her core three times a week so that when she races, she’ll have the stamina to retain her status as America’s top hurdler. “When my core strength is at its peak,” says Jones, “I can run more efficiently and maintain the extra edge.

    Here’s How Your Core Works For You On The Road

    Speed. As you enter your stride or quicken the rate of your leg and foot turnover when you’re trying to pick up your pace, the lower abs-including the transverses and rectus abdominis- and lower back are called into action. The stronger and more stable these muscles are, the more force and speed you can generate as you push off the ground.


     

    Uphills

    The glutes and lower abs support the pelvis, which connects to the leg muscles needed to get uphill. If the core is strong, the legs will have a stable plane to push fro, for a more powerful ascent. When you swing your leg forward, the hip-flexor muscles, such as the rectus femoris, pull on the pelvis. As you push off the ground, the glutes and hamstrings are engaged.


     

    Downhills

    When you’re flying down a slope, you need strong gluteal muscles to help absorb the impact and counter the momentum of the forward motion. As fun as it may be to zoom down, without the core strength to control your movement, your quads and knee joints bear the extra pounding of your body weight, which can lead to fatigue, pain, and even injury.


     

    Endurance

    As you’re nearing the end of a race, a solid core helps you maintain proper form and run efficiently, even through fatigue. With strong lower abs and lower- back muscles, such as the erector spinae, it’s easier to stay upright. If your core is weak, you may end up shuffling, slouching, and putting too much stress on your hips, knees, and shins.


     

    Lateral Movement

    Whenever you have to suddenly move to the side-to turn the corner on a track, dodge a pothole, or navigate undulating terrain-the obliques provide stability and help keep you upright. If your core is weak, then you may end up leaning into the movement, which can put excess weight and strain on the joints in your legs and feet.

    Read More
  • Balance Running and Strength Training

    By Leslie Goldman

    Dieters Strategy:  
    Avoid strength training to keep from adding on pounds.

    Runner’s Strategy:
    Balance running and strength training.

    Dieters often shy away from strength training, such as lifting weights, out of a fear it will make them bulk up.  Others are intimidated by going to a gym.  But for many dieters, the reason is simpler.  They know one hour of intense cardio burns more calories than one hour of strength training.  If you’re pressed for time, it would seem that intense cardiovascular exercise would provide more bang for your buck, leading to a greater weight loss than pumping iron.

    Yet the truth is that taking the time to add strength training to your routine a few days a week has a number of unintuitive benefits that can help boost your weight loss.  Studies have shown that strength training can improve body composition by helping you maintain or increase your lean body mass and can decrease your percentage of body fat, helping you look leaner and burn additional calories.  Here’s how it works.

    Muscle Burns More Calories: “Fat burns almost nothing at rest,” says exercise physiologist Pete McCall, “whereas muscle uses oxygen.  If you increase lean muscles mass, you’ll increase the body’s ability to use oxygen and burn more calories,” Your body typically uses about 4.5 to 7 calories per pound of muscle every day.  If a 160-pound runner with 20 percent body fat increases his muscle mass and lowers his body fat to 15 percent, he’ll burn an extra 36 to 56 calories a day at rest – simply by adding muscle.

    You’ll Be More Efficient:  Strength training can help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently.  A study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that runners who add three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increase their leg strength and enhance their endurance.  Obviously, runners with better endurance can run longer – and burn more calories.  You’ll also be able to recover faster from those long runs because strength training makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy.  “It’s like being able to convert car exhaust into gas,” says McCall.

    You’ll be Less Injury-Prone:  “If you increase your strength, you’ll also increase you joint stability, reducing your risk of repetitive stress injuries,” says McCall, citing a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which showed that incorporating moves such as squats, single-leg hops, ab work into a workout can not only prevent lower-body injuries, but improve performance as well.  Leg exercises are particularly important when it comes to reducing injury:  These exercises strengthen muscles around the knees and hips – two areas that often cause problems for runners. 

    Read More
  • How to Use The Stick

    The Stick is a revolutionary device used to segmentally compress and stretch muscle. It is highly effective in the treatment of muscle pain and trigger points.

    The Stick provides the following benefits:
     

    • Prevent & Predict Muscle Injuries
    • Dramatically improve strength, flexibility and endurance
    • Rapidly prepare muscles for physical activity
    • Disperse the effects of lactic acid following activity
    • Accelerate muscle recovery
    General Tips for Use

    • Keep muscles relaxed during rollout
    • Use on skin or through light clothing.
    • The Stick is waterproof and designed to bend without fear of breaking.
    • It is not necessary to hurt the muscle in order to help the muscle.
    • Most effective when used before, during and after periods of activity.
    • For pin-point rollout, slide hands onto spindles.
    • Excessive use may caue muscle soreness.

    General Instructions

    • A typical warm-up for healthy muscle tissue is about 20 progressively deeper passes over each muscle group (about 30 seconds per area).
    • Discomfort or pain is experienced when the spindles locate a bump or tender knot in the muscle - this is known as a trigger point.
    • Muscles containing trigger points are often weak, stiff and sore. They are frequently tight, easily tire and often hurt.
    • Muscles containing chronic trigger points need 20 additional passes over the involved area, and may require attention several times daily.
    Read More
  • Food/Fuel Considerations for Training

    Nutrition is an important factor in becoming and being fit and in performing our best. It is
    important to have a plan that works for your body to prepare, perform and recover in training
    and racing.

    Before Workout
    For many people, it can be difficult to have anything in their stomach before running; however,
    eating prior to a longer run can be critically important when workouts go beyond one hour. We
    recommend eating one to two hours before a long run. For runs under one hour, runners do not
    necessarily need to eat but may feel better if they do – it is a personal choice.

    For most runners, eating a food with simply and complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or
    toast/jam provides an easy to digest and good start for a long run. Others may choose an
    energy bar or beverage that is formulated to provide an elevated, consistent energy level over
    an extended period of time. These typically include a balanced mix of simple and complex
    carbohydrates, some protein and fiber.

    It is good to get use to eating something prior to running by slowly introducing light foods or
    energy bars on longer training runs.

    During Workout
    During a workout or race, no matter what type, you need to quickly absorb carbohydrate-based
    calories to replace the glucose you are burning at 400 - 600 calories per hour or you will begin
    to lose concentration and energy.
    There are several alternatives to fuel the body during exercise.
    Food like fruits
    Sports Drinks
    Energy Gels/GU
    Energy Bars
    Energy Gelatins
    These are designed for easy digestion and absorption into your bloodstream. The goal is to
    provide sustained energy through a gradual rise (not a spike) in energy followed by a similarly
    gradual decline. Chews, gels and beverages are favorites due to their simplicity and agreeable
    taste.

    Also during exercise proper fluid intake is critical. Good hydration helps to prevent overheating
    and increases your blood flow, transporting vital nutrients and oxygen to your working muscles,
    which is the most important factor for a good workout. Yet during exercise water is not enough
    to keep your body properly hydrated. Your body needs electrolytes in the correct ratio to replace
    the sodium and potassium you are losing through sweat. At the same time, your body needs
    complex carbohydrates (not sugar) to maintain your blood glucose and muscle glycogen at
    levels necessary to have a great workout/race from start to finish.

    Again, some runners have some difficulty taking different types of fuel sources while running. It
    is important to experiment and find what works best for you.

    What is GU?
    GU is the most popular energy gel for endurance activities. GU is a convenient, carbohydrate
    gel formulated to energize before, sustain during, and aid in recovery after your training and
    competitions. Made with a unique blend of ingredients, GU provides: complex carbohydrates for
    sustained energy, amino acids to maintain muscle protein, antioxidants and muscle buffers to
    aid with recovery.

    Recovery Phase
    If rehydration was the only factor to enhancing performance, a conventional sports drink would
    be enough. But athletes don't just need to rehydrate, their muscles need to recover, too. Protein
    speeds muscle recovery. During prolonged exercise, up to 10% of the muscles' energy can
    come from metabolizing protein, which can come from the breakdown of muscle. Having protein
    in sports drink minimizes the breakdown of protein from the muscle during exercise. The result
    can be a quicker recovery.

    The ability of any athlete to perform at their best is directly related to how fast their muscles
    recover after exercise. Protein-enhanced recovery drinks give muscles a jump-start on getting
    back to peak performance. In fact, recovery drinks have been shown to significantly reduce
    muscle damage following exercise. Compared to a conventional sports drink, it minimizes
    muscle soreness. These are fortified with proteins, amino acids and other muscle-restoring
    elements to help hasten the repair and restoration of cells in your body.

    What do these products offer that traditional foods cannot?
    Easy portability. Bananas, as great as they are as energy boosters, quickly get beat up when
    transported in an adventurer's pack.
    Long shelf life. No refrigeration (or similar food-handling precautions) needed.
    Convenience. What you need (concentrated, specialized nutrients), when you need it (any time
    you choose) and where you need it (any place you choose).
    Which items are best suited for you? We suggest you experiment with various products.
    Stick with the ones that:

    • Deliver the best results for you
    • Feel most comfortable in your stomach
    • Offer the most appealing flavor and texture for your tastes.
    • Many products can serve more than one of these functions. But these general designations can help guide you to choices best suited to your needs.
    • How many of these items do you need? It depends on the intensity of your activity or workout. For a light training run, for example, you may not need any. A more moderate run may call for just a single item from one of these categories. The more demanding (and prolonged) your activity, the more options your body may likely need to sustain peak performance.

    Try different methods during your training so that you can be confident on race day!

    Please Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional dietary advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding proper nutrition for your body.

    Read More

4 Item(s)