3 Things to Try in 2014

transportation-icons-rocket-space-ship-launch-shuttleWith a new year is the opportunity for a fresh start or a new routine.

Yes, we could really have a new routine whenever we choose, but there is something about a new year – it feels like a clean slate.

This year I challenge you to add 3 new things to your marathon training routine. These 3 things will help you stay injury free and enjoy this year even more than the last.

  1. Yoga
  2. Recovery Drinks
  3. Form Runs

Yoga

Yoga is about so much more than flexibility, so who cares if you can’t touch your toes. Embrace the opportunity to correct muscle imbalances, add strength and improve posture.

If you live in a place where you can attend a yoga class in person, I highly recommend you try it at least once. If not, or if you are mortified by the thought of breaking wind in front of others then by all means do yoga at home.

You can obviously buy a Yoga DVD, you could search for a video on YouTube, or visit a magazine’s website, such as Yoga Journal and find videos there.
There are many different kinds of yoga, but I’ve never been picky because availability has been my decision maker. Although I haven’t tried it, I have read recently that Hot Yoga is great for runners. I don’t think you can go wrong with any type of yoga…find what you like and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

Let me throw in the general disclaimer – you can get hurt doing yoga (just like you can if you do anything) so be careful and listen to your body. Know YOUR limits, and don’t worry about the limits of the person next to you.

It’s not a competition!

Recovery Drinks

Actually, it doesn’t have to be a drink . . .the main objective here is to take in carbs & protein post-exercise. Drinks can be easier than a meal, but regardless of whether you eat or drink you need to be consuming to optimize recovery.

When training for anything longer than a 10K you need more than just your normal nutrition to replace electrolytes & glycogen.

Take the time to sit down for a healthy meal after workouts OR drink something geared toward replenishing and repairing. What you eat & drink the hour or so after exercise (especially exercise lasting more than an hour) is critical to how your body will recover. And how your body recovers is critical to how race day will go down.

Smoothies are a nice way to incorporate stuff that you don’t love the taste of…coconut water is great for hydration, but by itself I don’t love the taste. Not all sports drinks are created equal so be sure to read the fine print if you are using a recovery drink. I like Hammer Nutrition Recoverite, but even chocolate milk is a good option for post-run nutrition.

Form Runs

As a supplement, not a substitute to form drills. Form runs can be added to the beginning of any workout, can last between 4-10 minutes and should be without music. Take blocks of time (30-60 seconds) and focus on form components individually.

So, here’s an example of what I do once a week –

At the beginning of a tempo run, a 4 minute form run:

  • 1 minute focus on cadence – I measure it by counting the number of times my left foot hits in 1 minute, it should be near 90
  • 1 minute focus on head position – gaze forward, not down
  • 1 minute focus on arm swing – arms bent just less than 90 degrees, elbows driving backward
  • 1 minute focus on footstrike – sometimes I do this barefoot, landing midfoot and making sure the heel touches

Again, form runs aren’t a substitute for form drills, which help improve muscle firing and proper technique, but rather an addition to your running routine. You can add them where it is convenient for you and the frequency and duration can change to meet your weakest component.

Running form is often oversimplified and neglected which leads to injury and inefficiencies. By only focusing on one component at a time you can improve your overall running mechanics without feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re not sure what good running form looks like or you have no idea whether you are using proper mechanics then consider having your gait analyzed. Gait analysis is useful for any level of athlete and can be beneficial in the prevention of injury and can increase efficiency.

Visit my website www.naturalruncoach.com for more info on how to do this!

In a Nutshell
Yoga, Recovery Drinks & Form Runs

A new year is a great opportunity to improve your training and racing. Changing up your routine is easier than you might think and the benefits of these 3 things will be noticeable and long lasting.

Best wishes for 2014~

3 Responses to 3 Things to Try in 2014

  1. Mike January 4, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    Another great post

  2. Anita January 28, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    Great article. I’ve already got yoga on my list to start doing this year. I really like the form run idea.

  3. Lynn January 28, 2014 at 3:30 am #

    Thanks, Anita!!

    The form runs really are helpful…one of those things that we can really reap rewards from if we’d make it a habit…getting started is the hard part! 🙂

    Best wishes for a healthy year,
    Lynn

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