| Article written on October 23rd, 2016 at 09:03pm | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
Running is a complex sport that takes a lot of discipline and focus in various areas. Spending your time solely running to improve performance is a shortsighted method for success. What I mean is, implementing supplemental strategies, such as functional training, nutrition, hydration, recovery, self-myofascial release, and injury prevention, can produce significant results without actually increasing mileage.
In the following, I will outline 3 of the biggest mistakes I see from runners that keep them working too hard for limited results…
3. Incorporating an ineffective functional training program. Functional training may be one of the most performance boosting and injury preventing strategies out there for runners. That is, when the program is effective…
Too often runners apply general strategies found in some running magazine and wonder why they end up injured or in the same place they were previously. As I always say, general strategies will produce general results.
When it comes to functional training, finding exercises that fit your ability level and movement capabilities is important. I always recommend completing a functional movement evaluation by a trained professional before beginning your running program. This will allow you to see how your body is functioning, where are the weak links, and what specific exercises will produce results and/or reduce the likelihood of injury. Without this, you may be spending countless hours performing exercises that provide little to no benefit.
From another perspective, having the knowledge on how to create a well-rounded functional training program is important. Strength is vital for runners, but is only one aspect that deserves your attention.
A proper functional training program should include many of the following strategies: foam rolling and self-myofascial release, corrective movement, flexibility and mobility drills, dynamic warm-up, jumping and landing drills, power training, strength/endurance training, cardiorespiratory conditioning, and cool-down/recovery. Within each of these, a blend of upper body, lower body, and core focused exercises are essential. Training just the lower body is a recipe for limited results.
2. Overlooking the recovery process. Recovery is one of the most important and often overlooked strategies for runners. And, the process starts even before you finish your run and/or training session.
It’s obvious that nutrition and hydration are paramount for a beneficial recovery process. From a functional movement standpoint, utilizing strategies such as diaphragmatic breathing, self-myofascial release, cross-training, and flexibility/mobility drills can enhance recovery. Not to mention, an effective functional training program will increase the tissue’s threshold to failure and breakdown, therefore allowing quicker recovery between bouts.
What runners need to realize is that the body is very efficient at recovering when we give it the time to do so. Adding some of the strategies mentioned above can help expedite the process but ultimately you need to listen to your body. Our body will give us warning signs like pain, excess soreness, and limited mobility when we are constantly taking without giving back. And, at a certain point injury will result if we don’t respect our limits. Do yourself a favor and start listening to the warning signs!
1. Lack of professional guidance/support. Knowing where to begin when incorporating supplemental, functional movement strategies can be challenging. Especially if you don’t have a support system or a thorough knowledge of how your body is functioning.
Runners need to realize that all exercises are not created equal and success comes from individualizing a program to your needs. Just because someone tells you that the lunge matrix is the best dynamic warm-up routine does not mean it is for you. Finding the proper starting point and exercises that fit your ability level is essential.
Connecting with a local movement professional can be a sure way to success. I recommend reaching out to a qualified athletic trainer, physical therapist, or strength & conditioning coach in your area. What’s important is finding one with a background in running performance and injury prevention.
More often than not runners are worried about the high price tag and time commitment of completing 1-3, one-on-one sessions per week. This type of individualized training can be the fastest way to achieving your desired goals. But, there are other options… Completing a functional movement evaluation, getting individualized recommendations to complete at your local gym, and/or enrolling in a group training option are also effective.
If you are looking for professional guidance and support, my offseason functional training program will set you up for long-term success. The ‘Ignite Your Run’ program is 8-weeks of group training with emphasis on strength, function, and injury prevention. All areas that are guaranteed to set you up for success in 2017. For more details on the program, click here to learn more.
Anyway, I hope this article provided you value in some way. Functional movement is a worthwhile strategy to supplement your running program when applied correctly. As mentioned, doing so with an individualized approach will only magnify your results. Healthy running!
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART