Strengthening the Structure
With my injury issues from 2014 fresh in my mind I have been thinking about, reading about and looking at improving my strength training routine to avoid any further problems down the track. With endurance training comes many hours of work and this has an impact on the body in many ways so the likelihood of an injury, whether it be acute or chronic, is high. The challenge for all endurance athletes is finding their limit and not over doing it which may result in injury or a performance drop or both.
After consulting with my physio, John Roberts of Bathurst Physiotherapy and Sports Injury, and looking at some photos of me running throughout the year I concluded that I had some imbalances in my running gait and this was causing problems. John believed I had an issue within my glutes and I felt this along with poor balance and stability caused by poor hip strength/flexibility was my issue.
Why? I did no work on strength in 2013 and very little in early 2014, this was partly because I get bored with this type of training easily and because I felt hill training was enough. How wrong I was, I needed to be inventive with my routine because hill training isn’t enough.
I have been focused on two things with my strength, developing a routine I’ll stick to and a routine that is effective. I have been reading plenty of articles to provide me with solid evidence to develop my training and from this reading in the last few months I have been tinkering with my routine to suit my running training load (10+hrs a week) as well as my work and family commitments. I am currently happy with where it is at and really believe not only is this helping with my racing but also with recovery and injury prevention.
I’m a big stretcher, I know there is evidence pointing towards the other direction but with the addition of my foam roller the 20-30min I spend each night working out the sore spots helps me greatly. I have also been completing core work daily for 15min and this was to stay in my schedule permanently, it was up to me to include enough strength to get gains, but not too much to get disinterested.
My strength program is very much running based, single leg, uneven weight distribution, balance, plyometric and low weight/high reps. I do 3 x 20-30min sessions weekly and they are as follows;
Foundation – basic resistance moves, squats, lunges, calf raises, etc. with a kettle bell/plate/barbell generally on an uneven weight distribution. I follow a 3 set of 15 rep plan with no rest generally. These are the base building exercises aimed at allowing the other sessions to target the specific areas.
Balance – single leg and balance based. This is low weight and with a dynamic focus on my biggest weakness, my balance. I am improving but this is still in the early days and I anticipate further gains with consistency. Balance allows efficiency and lowers injury likelihood as well as giving me an opportunity to add resistance through the full range of movement.
Plyometric – bounding, hopping and jumping. I have always done plyo work but this time it is more specific and targeted in developing explosive power. Plyo is a great way to activate the fast twitch fibres that often lay dormant in endurance runners. I am careful with my training and would not recommend jumping straight into plyo work, it is very beneficial but if done incorrectly potentially debilitating.
So a bit of food for thought, but for me it is a direction I intend on following consistently in line with my running based training. I have been doing running drills and technique work but without the strength training this has been futile as when fatigue hits the body it can’t hold the form. The pictures at the top show this perfectly.
2013 – Same endurance base more or less but my form is sloppy, swaying and leaning right at the end of the Edgell Jog. My hips are weak, my balance is out and my torso is rocking from side to side. I am over striding, leaning forward too far and reaching in my gait. My arms are out and my drive phase isn’t going directly forwards.
2014 – At the same point in the race and still just as buggered but my form is strong and my technique is solid. I’m on my toes driving forwards with my knees and arms in equal drive planes (directions). My hips and shoulders are square with no torso roll or lean allowing my head to remain stable.
A picture tells a 1000 words, so I’ll leave it at that.