Fit tips for better running!
1. LIFT YEAR-ROUND, BUT BACK OFF DURING RACING SEASON
Build your aerobic base during the fall season and focus on building maximal strength at other times of the year. It’s more important that you focus on building a solid foundation of strength and movement proficiency with the major lifts (more on that in the next point) than anything else. Simply dial back the strength-training frequency during racing season to ensure you don’t cut into the recovery and performance of your running training.
Just as you would continue to run to keep from getting rusty, you would keep lifting weights to ensure that the body stays strong throughout the year. Alas, a break of just a couple of weeks from heavy stimuli can be enough to signal your body to start shedding strength.
2. CHOOSE FUNCTIONALLY SUPERIOR EXERCISES
Not all exercises are created equal. The strength and neuromuscular improvements from exercises like squat and deadlift variations will definitely offer far more carryover to running than isolation curls. I recommend checking the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database or having a certified strength and conditioning coach instruct you on proper and safe lifting techniques for these exercises.
Single-leg variations, like single-leg split squats, single-leg deadlifts, and lunge variations are also important for the development of dynamic stability, which is important for increasing running economy.
3. TRAIN WITHIN A SPECTRUM OF SETS AND REPETITIONS
Exercise repetitions (aka reps) refer to the number of times you perform the same exercise one after another, and sets refer to how many total times you perform those repetitions in distinct groups, as in “3 sets of 10 reps.” There are ideal rep and set ranges for different effects on muscle, but for our purposes, focus on lifting weights that challenge you in the 5-reps-or-less range.
That means you should choose a weight that makes you feel like your muscles are on fire by the fifth rep. This 5-rep range works best for squats and deadlifts. For single-leg variations, focus on the 8-12-rep range.
For core stabilization exercises, focus on timed sets lasting 30-60 seconds.
4. LIFT WEIGHTS WITH A BALLISTIC INTENT
In other words, you need to move the weight as quickly as possible with your best form and technique possible, regardless of weight. Sometimes the weight will move slowly, but your “ballistic intent” will preferentially recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Doing this will help with power generation for times when you need to really push off in the last mile.
5. JUMP, HOP, AND SKIP
Frog jumps, jump squats, bounding, quick high-knees—these are all forms of explosive bodyweight training called plyometric training. Plyometrics can improve the stretch-shortening cycle of your lower limbs by making joints, tendons, and muscle less stiff. (Don’t worry, stiffness isn’t a bad thing.)
When your foot lands with each running stride, your tendons and muscles store elastic energy, which can be utilized for the subsequent push off the ground. The better you utilize this energy, the better your running economy becomes.
NASM-CPT, USATF, FMS