Monthly Archives: June 2017

4 Big Benefits of Speed Work

To race fast, you have to practice running faster.  This type of running at faster than race pace is known as speed work.  Doing speed workouts has several big benefits, outlined below, and is an important part of any successful training plan.

Increased speed.  Even if you only practice running faster in short bursts, your body is learning speed workhow to operate at those paces.  The more you run fast, the easier it becomes to maintain.  That ultimately means faster race times and new PRs.

Get stronger.  Running faster requires more effort from your entire body.  Fast twitch muscles are recruited at a high rate while bones, tendons and ligaments work to handle the extra impact.  That’s why it’s important to not overdo it when you add speed workouts to your training program.  Your whole body is working harder during these sessions and you don’t want to invite injury.

More efficient.  Along with increased speed, you’ll also become more efficient at those higher speeds.  Your gait will become more efficient as stride length shortens, cadence increases and over striding often disappears.  Those same short bursts of speed help teach your body how to clear lactate, increasing your tolerance, or lactate threshold.  The high intensity of speed work also means better fat burning that lasts long after you’ve uploaded your run to Strava.

Less boredom.  Speed work is fun.  The variety of workout types, from hill sprints to fartleks, means you’ll never run out of options.  Unlike during your long runs or steady state tempo runs, the changing of paces provides both physical and mental challenges.

Remember that you need to train for where you’re racing.  It’s OK to do some of your speed work on a track but if that’s not where you’ll be shooting for your next PR, don’t spend lots of time training there.  Take your speed workouts off the track for the best results.

Coach Meredith

The Every Runner Foot Care Plan

Having two healthy feet is something most runners take for granted.  Until one gets injured.  Foot care is often overlooked by runners who stretch hamstrings, quads and calves but miss their most important part.  Feet take the first impact of every step.  They also help us stay upright, balance and learn about our environments.  Here are some of Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to keep them healthy and happy.

Find the right shoes.  If your shoes are too loose they can rub and causing blisters.  Too narrow and you’re susceptible to callouses, too.  If they’re too small, add in the risk of black or foot carefalling off toenails.  When you buy running shoes, do so from a reputable running store and make sure the fit is correct.  And, once you have the correct shoes, know when it’s time for new ones.

Socks.  There are tons of socks out there, and you want to be sure you’re running in the right ones.  Cotton socks can lead to blisters while other materials, such as acrylic, can help protect your feet from rubbing by pulling sweat and moisture away.  You might need to vary your sock choice based on the weather, a light sock won’t be equally fit for a speed workout and racing a marathon.  Although there are lots of choices, socks are fairly inexpensive, so try different brands, fabrics and cuts until you find what works best.

Keep your feet dry.  This can be hard if you’re running in the rain, on the trails, in snow or on the beach.  Waterproof trail shoes are a great choice for those who brave nature, but for those who run mostly on pavement or a treadmill, the answer is usually to wear moisture wicking fabrics.  Never start with damp or wet socks and shoes and keep an extra pair nearby for when you’re finished.

Massage your feet by rolling them on golf or lacrosse balls, a rolling pin or foot roller.  Not only will a foot massage relax those hard working muscles, it’ll give you a few minutes to chill out foot careand take a break.  Be careful, though.  Rolling or massaging your feet too hard can cause damage to tender fascia and harm, rather than help, this important body part.

Make them strong.  Do foot and ankle strengthening exercises.  Weak feet mean you lose out on power and speed while increasing your risk of injury.  Try being barefoot as much as you can.  Shoes support muscles so they don’t have to work.  Taking off your shoes will strengthen the arch of your foot while aiding in your body’s ability to sense what’s happening around it.

Use these tips to keep your feet in good working condition and they’ll help you hit a new PR.

Coach Meredith

Upper Body Strength for Runners

All runners know they need strong, stable legs and hips to get the most out of each run.  Equally as important, and often overlooked, is upper body strength.  Being powerful above the hips as well as below will help you run faster and perform better during every workout.  Your arms move in precise coordination with your legs to help maintain rhythm while your shoulders work to maintain good posture that allows your lungs and diaphragm to do they best job they can.  A strong core stabilizes against rotation that wastes energy and helps propel you forward.

So how do you build upper body strength?  There are tons of exercises you can use.  Focusing on muscle groups that improve and maintain posture is the best path to building strength that will make you a better runner.  That means your back, chest, shoulders and, most importantly, core.  While you don’t want to end up carrying extra muscle weight by bulking up, you do want strong, stable muscles that will hold you up when the going gets tough.  Here are four of Team ECRP‘s favorite upper body moves:

Push-Ups:  Push-ups stabilize shoulder, strengthen arms and work those important core muscles.  Performing them correctly, with your elbows tight to your ribs and externally rotated shoulders, will improve running form and efficiency.

upper body strengthPlank Rows:  These toughies challenge your entire upper body.  Your shoulders and core work to stabilize your position while your back works to lift that weight.

Pull-Ups:  Adjustable for everyone, this challenging exercise is a great way to get a stronger, more stable upper body.  From strict pull-ups to ring rows, the wide variety of scaling options means there’s no excuse not to try.upper body strength

Overhead Press:  Yes, any overhead press will do.  Whether it’s a strict press, thruster, push-press or clean and jerk, lifting weights over your head takes skill and strength.  Your core stabilizes your entire body while shoulders work to push the weight up.

Use these four moves to help build upper body strength.  You’ll earn better running form and faster race times.

Coach Meredith

5 Yoga Poses for Runners

Yoga is an excellent tool for runners to have in their fitness toolbox.  While they don’t need tons of static flexibility, which can actually take power away from you, it is important to have strength through a full range of motion at all joints, especially the hips.  Spending a few minutes each day going through some or all five of these yoga poses will also help relieve muscle soreness and provide relaxation.

Downward Facing Dogyoga poses
An easy pose to do just about anywhere, down dog is an excellent way to wrap up a workout.  It stretches your arms, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, calves and feet.  Hang out like your pup for up to three minutes taking deep breaths to build arm and leg strength while reaping the pose’s calming effects.

yoga posesWarrior 2
This standing pose will help you open those post run hips.  With feet 3.5-4 feet apart and your back foot turned out, reach from your shoulders with arms parallel to the ground.  Sink down until your front thigh is also parallel to the ground while your torso stays tall over your hips.  Perform on both sides to get all of the leg, hip, groin and ankle stretching and strengthening benefits.

Plankyoga poses
Of all the yoga poses, this one is one of the most simple.  Great for stabilizing your core, make sure you’re hips stay high and your shoulders are directly over your wrists or elbow when performing it.  Use this simplest plank to improve your running posture while strengthening your shoulders, arms and wrists.

Low Lunge
yoga posesThis hip opener is perfect for both before and after your run.  After stepping back with one leg be sure to keep your front shin vertical as you reach both hands to the ground on the inside of the front knee.  You’ll feel it stretch your hips, thighs and chest as you repeat it on both side.

yoga posesLegs on the Wall
You get a little help on this one.  Raising your legs vertically above your head while keeping your sit bones in contact with the ground might be the perfect pose.  It has health benefits as well as stretching ones.  It doesn’t matter how close you are to the wall in the beginning.  Tighter runners will need to be further away to keep their lower back supported.  You’ll move closer and your flexibility increases.

Add these yoga poses to your pre- and post-run routines to prevent soreness, relax and improve mobility.

Coach Meredith