Would you like to run more and train harder with fewer running injuries?
If you have a time goal for your next race or want to run in less pain, of course you want to train more consistently!
Last week I spoke with coach Jay Johnson about his DVD series Building a Better Runner. Both volumes 1 & 2 have two DVD’s of preventive exercises, general strength routines, and warm-ups. I’m giving away a copy of both volumes.
Body-weight strength exercises and dynamic flexibility have become important cornerstones of my own training, allowing me to run for nearly three years injury-free and post a 5+ minute PR in the marathon recently in 2:39.
Many of my routines I’ve developed myself – like the Standard warm-up and the ITB Rehab Routine. But some are directly from Coach Jay – routines like Cannonball, Myrtl, and the Lunge Warm-up.
Specificity and General Strength
If you’ve read my favorite training book Run Faster by Brad Hudson, you may be wondering why I’m such an advocate for these supplemental exercises. In fact, Hudson doesn’t think runners need to do any weightlifting and very little core work. He says:
“Hill running is the only ‘weightlifting’ my runners do. They hoist no barbells or dumbbells. I believe in a very selective approach to cross-training…a little core-strength work goes a long way.”
While I believe in many of Hudson’s training principles, I don’t think runners should discount the importance of daily general strength. The potential gains are huge while the downsides are tiny or even nonexistent.
However, the rule of specificity still applies: to be a better runner, you have to run. You can’t lift weights, play volleyball, or do the elliptical for months and then expect to be a good runner. Like my favorite analogy states: Don’t plant carrots and expect to harvest potatoes.
Let’s be clear: general strength work doesn’t make you fast, but it will allow you to run more and run harder. And that makes you faster in the long-term.
All of these exercises are extra or supplemental to the running you do. Coach Jay calls them ancillary in the Building a Better Runner series. Instead of taking the place of running, they’re added on top of your normal running.
The Case for Strong Distance Runners
My running was completely transformed once I consistently started adding daily strength and mobility work to my training. In my experience, this stuff works.
I used to get hurt every few months and was always nursing a small pain that limited my training. I had it all: plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, ITBS, arch pain, shin splints, and SI joint pain. My college years were plagued with these injuries because I was weak and I was only good at moving forward.
Gym workouts were skipped, I didn’t warm up for workouts, and preventive exercises were sporadic. If you asked me to do 10 lunges, I’d be sore for days (a true, pathetic story). Think about that: if you can’t do some lunges without getting sore, how can you run a race at a high effort without getting injured?
Now that I’m a convert to core work and strength exercises – my wife calls me a Core Whore, after all – I rarely have any pain that limits my training. I ran more than ever in 2010 and I owe my health almost exclusively to being a stronger runner.
My example can help you dramatically improve your own training if you understand two running principles:
- If you can train uninterrupted and with consistency, you will get faster.
- If you can run more and train harder over time, you will get faster.
General strength allows you to more easily accomplish these training principles; they’re your insurance policy against injury. The premises of these exercises are:
- Runners are good at forward motion (the sagittal plane of motion), but side to side (frontal plane) and rotational (transverse plane) motion are our weak areas. General strength routines increase our overall athleticism in these planes of motion so we can prevent more injuries and train more consistently.
- Strength exercises increase your endocrine (hormonal) profile. You’ll produce more testosterone and human growth hormone which will lead to faster recovery times and better performances. Since running is catabolic, which means it breaks you down, you need strength exercises since they’re restorative and strength-building.
Building a Better Runner: Details + Giveaway!
Going from a weak, clumsy runner into an athletic, strong runner will take time. But it’s actually not that difficult!
There’s a simple way to add more of these routines into your running: do something before your run and something after your run. If you can spend an extra 20 minutes a day on two routines, you’ll see real benefits in your training.
For most runners, a simple light strength routine plus some mobility exercises is a great warm-up. After you finish your running, a more demanding strength workout is best. In my experience, following up any strength routine with some flexibility work is the best way to warm-down.
The Building a Better Runner DVDs have over 100 exercises included in numerous routines. Each are packaged so you can follow along with the DVD and rarely take longer than ten minutes to complete.
You can do these routines anywhere and most don’t require any equipment- others you’ll need a medicine ball, a partner, or a simple pull up bar. Volume 1 is great for beginners and includes a progression from general exercises to more specific, dynamic exercises. Volume 2 of the DVD series has more advanced exercises that you can progress to after you’ve gone through Volume 1.
Here’s a preview:
Want to win a copy of Volumes 1 and 2? I’ll mail it to you, free of charge. Here’s how to enter the giveaway and other details:
- Make sure you’re signed up for the Strength Running newsletter. Only subscribers are eligible.
- Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to win the DVD series.
- You have until 11:59pm on Thursday, 12/15 to leave your comment and enter.
- I’ll randomly select the winner and email you on Tuesday for your shipping info.
I’m passionate about helping runners prevent injuries and train more effectively, so I’m also emailing everyone who enters an exclusive 20% off discount code at the end of the contest. If you don’t get a free copy of Building a Better Runner, you can at least save some cash on the DVD series. I know the videos will help you be more consistent, so I want you to be able to take advantage of such a great resource.
I also want to thank Jay Johnson for providing the DVDs and discount code. I hope the winner enjoys Building a Better Runner and you take advantage of the 20% savings!
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.