"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Prevention drills and how to prevent doing them

Okay... recapping the past few posts: first I said to use stretching to detect injuries early, then I said to use pressure to break up the damage from injuries, then I said to do eccentric strengthening to keep the injuries from quickly reforming. But what about preventing having to do all of that?

Over the past century, various running drills have been codified and, going under different names and with various claims, most coaches have used them. My take on the subject is that one exaggerates running motions, usually at high speed, to keep mobility and strength from being squelched by the small tissue tears of training.

There are a lot of drills possible, so I won't cover them, except to point out that Lydiard's hill-springing differs from sprinting uphill or running stairs by exaggerating flexion at the ankle - so these have been around at least 50 years.

As I've been using hamstrings for examples, walking lunges are an eccentric hamstring strengthening exercise that's done with one exaggerated piece of a running motion, making them a drill, as opposed to deadlifts/good-mornings.

I wouldn't recommend holding weights over your head.
There are exercises for each of the muscles that tend to give runners trouble. Piriformis syndrome is common - hurdlers do steps sideways over a hurdle to mimic its range of motion - that can be addressed with high-stepping carioca (you'll have to look that one up). Gluteus medius problems are addressed by shuttle runs, as the muscle is worked when your supporting leg is pushed both back and away from the body centerline.

The problem is: no one ever actually does these exercises unless their coach is standing in front of them! Everyone hates doing them. So, what you want to do is to mimic the motions while going for a run. You can intentionally work a different muscle harder than usual for 50 meters during a run and then go on to do another. If you run difficult trails, both extremely steep hills and with bad footing, you can work all of these muscles without thinking about it. It's a lot more fun than drills, but you have to think about it and really work, rather than just go through the motions.


Robyn said...

Steve, this seems dangerously close to an endorsement for a high-intensity, functional fitness regimen involving bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, and Olympic weight lifting. You know what I'm talking about. Everyone hates doing drills, but if it's motivating to go do a "workout of the day" that involves weighted lunges, squats, and shuttle runs (and for many people, it is), doesn't that make more sense than altering your running gait in various weird ways for the same benefit?

SteveQ said...

I started this series because I was getting tired of being considered too old-school and out of touch with current trends. The real problem is that people are doing their w.o.d. as a thing in itself (I actually thought "ding en sich!") rather than as a means to an end. There are multiple ways to get to one's goals, but the closer you get to running solutions to running problems, the better the long-term results will be.