It’s hard for runners to slow down. There’s nothing more fun than running fast and knocking out a good, hard sweat session. How would you get faster without them? Unfortunately your body can’t handle strenuous workouts all the time without breaking down. Alternating challenging workout days with easy run days, or even more than one between, is the structure of any solid training plan. Here are three reasons Team ECRP loves their easy run days just as much as workout days.
Build – You’ll build a foundation on easy run days. This foundation is how your body adjusts to the stresses of distance running over time. Easy running will help you earn stronger bones, tougher joints, improved running economy, develop slow twitch, fat burning muscles and increased aerobic capacity.
Relax – Easy days are low stress. They’re for running with friends, checking out new routes or trails and forgetting the trials of the day. You need fast workouts to improve turnover, create more mitochondria and increase VO2max but those sessions aren’t exactly relaxing or fun. Easy days remind us why we love running.
Recovery – Going fast is hard on your body. After tough workouts it has to repair damaged muscle, expand blood vessels and learn to process more oxygen. An easy workout helps clear out waste from muscles, improve circulation and might actually help speed muscle recovery. If you push all the time those processes never get to finish their jobs and you’re inviting over training and burnout. Easy or recovery runs give your body a chance to make all of the positive performance enhancing adaptations it can.
The most important thing is to make sure your easy running is just that. Easy. Aim to be at least one minute slower than your goal race pace for the duration of an easy workout. As your fitness level increases it can become hard to slow the pace down. Keep the goal of each workout in mind and you’ll learn there’s no such thing as a ‘junk mile’.
Upper body strength is just as important for runners as lower body. When those legs get tired something has to support continued movement and that’s going to be your upper body. Having a strong back, powerful shoulders and a stable core will all help you run faster and with lower risk of injury. Here are four of Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to earn them. Each one will help you improve running form and stay strong over any distance you cover.
Banded Pull A-parts – This simple banded exercise strengthens your shoulders and upper back. Strong shoulders lead to better posture and running form by setting the shoulders in an externally rotated position. That means arms will travel forward and back without wasting any energy crossing the mid-line.
Push-ups – There are lots of variations for push-ups and they’re all good. Starting with a basic push-up to strengthen your shoulders, chest and core you can use them as part of a warm-up or any strength workout. Whether you modify them by dropping to your knees or maintain a plank position all the way through, push-ups will help train your shoulders to maintain good position when the going gets tough.
Renegade Rows – This key push-up version combines strength on both the anterior and posterior chains by adding a row. Using a light dumbbell you’ll train for good posture and a strong core with this one. Try to avoid round headed dumbbells, especially in the beginning, because they’ll want to roll and make you work a whole lot harder to stay in a good position.
Squat to Overhead Press – A fantastic combo move, the squat to overhead press works the whole body in one motion. Building power, improving coordination and getting stronger all are benefits of this simple exercise. Start with light weights and make sure you’re keeping your chest up without letting your knees fall in for 10 reps before stepping up to heavier dumbbells.
Add these four movements to your routine to build the stability and strength your upper body needs to carry you over every distance you cover with good form.