Little Training Additions for Big Results
by Seth Proctor
Track Shack Social Medial Intern/Competitive runner from Edgewater High School and Florida State University
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to be one of those guys that seems to stand up to most training that gets thrown at them and never face any bodily consequences. It’s a blessing and a curse – well, mostly a blessing. So, with that luck you can imagine how surprised, shocked, confused, and just overall lost I was when I encountered my first major injury last spring. Coming off a good block of introductory training I soon found myself hobbled by a stabbing pain in my soleus, which progressed from a frustrating post-run tightness to an inability to jog across the road and avoid a car (major problem in a college town).
Like most runners I went through a stage of Denial (I’m not injured, bro), Grieving (how could I be injured during my last track season?! Wahh), to Acceptance (I can’t walk, I should probably stop running), and finally, a phase most non-runners don’t know, Drive (So how can I come back better and never face this again?).
I spent eight tough weeks off the road, track, and trail when all was said and done. Did I come back stronger and set a miraculous PB, win a conference title, or secure that elusive All-American? No, but I can tell you that I learned a whole lot more in those eight weeks about all the ancillary work runners so often neglect than I did in my whole career preceding it! Here are some of the best bits of I picked up that have remained in my training regime even now that I’m back and healthy:
Many runners not on an NCAA team or under a professional coach often leave body strengthening at doing some pushups and sit ups a few times a week (and those are the diligent ones!). If you don’t have a lifting plan in place look to begin incorporating it. You’ll not only gain injury prevention benefits, but you’ll also see improvement s in your running efficiency over the course of a 6-8 week program, as well as improved recovery due to the hormonal changes that occur when one lifts heavy weights. Aim to do low reps at a high percentage of your single rep maximum, aiming to keep good form the whole way. Look to do a lifts that combine full body movement and stabilization like deadlifts, squats, and as you advance cleans and other Olympic lifts.
Drills & Pylometrics:
Whether you’re looking to find that extra bit of explosiveness at the end of a hard race, aiming to improve your running efficiency at all paces, or simply trying to stay strong and avoid injury a system of drills and plyometric exercises are the way to go. One major caveat: start SLOW! Going too hard, too quickly with these will have the reverse effect and likely leave you too sore to train or injured. When planning your program you should build in exercises aimed at working hip and ankle mobility and strength, as well as ones that target force production. An example of these would be “Russians” (walking slowly with exaggerated running movements), and single leg hops (jumping for height and distance on one leg).
Non-Running Aerobic Work:
Have you ever seen a swimmer’s daily workout regime? They have crazy amounts of intervals and are in the pool forever! How about a decent cyclist? Hours, on hours, on hours in the saddle! So why aren’t they turning up lame as often as runners? Simple: we are a high impact activity. If you’re currently already redlining your ability to run injury free, then look to some alternative exercises to add strong aerobic work to your foundation with lowered injury risks. Since not everyone has an underwater treadmill or Alter-G treadmill hanging out in their garage, stick to simple things like swimming/aqua jogging, biking, and elliptical. Since it’s often harder to get one’s heart rate as high as running with these types of exercise, you should work to incorporate ‘workouts’ into most of your sessions. After a short warm-up go straight into a series of 30 second to 10 minute bursts at a high effort level before recovering just enough to do it again.
No matter your current level, whether you’re looking to just find the finish line or find it before anyone else, if you incorporate some of these ideas into your training I guarantee you’ll be on the right path for achieving and surpassing your goals.
Seth is a longtime runner who recently finished his NCAA eligibility at Florida State University where he lettered four years as a varsity track and cross-country athlete. On the track Seth is a two time NCAA Track & Field qualifier, All-ACC on the track at 10,000m outdoors, 5,000m indoors, and a winner of the prestigious Tyson Invitational in Arkansas over 5,000m. As a harrier Seth is All-ACC in Cross-Country, a three time NCAA Cross-Country Championships qualifier where he helped lead the ‘Noles to 2nd, 12th, and 5th place finishes at the championships, three times All-South Region, and an Academic All-American.