A long time client Bill Greentree, recently forwarded an article about varying the types of running surfaces that triggered me to write this post. Running is such a great activity that can be done anywhere with minimal amounts of gear and preparation. From home, work, the gym or on travel, just lace up the shoes and get out the door! Runners however have a tendency to get injured through a combination of poor biomechanics, too much volume and not backing off when needed. If you talk to anyone that has run for any length of time, they will usually have experienced some form of set back or injury that has halted their running. Lets look at three things: technique, trails & treadmills that may help keep injury potential down, and keep you in the sport for "The Long Run"
Technique - EVERY RUN you do, should have a portion of the run devoted to a technique focus. That does not mean you run with poor technique the remaining parts of the run, but pick a time(s) when you really focus on running technique. I like to call this a "systems check." As you are running, start evaluating various parts of your technique to see how you are holding it together or need some improvement. A few key things to check but certainly not limited to would be posture, breathing, cadence and arm swing. Start with a focus on technique when you are running easy, fresh and warming up. Also, pay attention to technique when going fast to have a better understanding of what makes you go and what makes you slow.
Trails - Living in Colorado, there are no shortage of these to be found. Trails go up, down, left and right so you are almost always having a slightly different foot strike. This helps to better strengthen all the muscles involved with running, balance and picking up those feet. Running a trail with rocks, roots and other objects and you will quickly reveal strengths and weakness in running form. Generally trails provide a softer surface to run on and no cars, bikes, dogs, pedestrians and stop lights to navigate. Check with your local running store or club and you should come away with plenty ideas for your next off road adventure.
Treadmills (TM) - Sometimes a love/hate relationship or called "The Dreadmill", TM have their place in a running program. Need a softer surface? TM will provide this and by raising the %grade to 1-2% it may help with those dealing impact type injuries. TM are a great way to work on hills without the downhill portion. Just tap the up arrow on the %grade and watch the HR go up as well. You can play with a combination of speed and %grade to elicit the training objective desired. Check out this chart for some approximations on various speed vs %grade efforts.
TM are also great for teaching proper pacing as it will just keep on ticking over the minutes at whatever pace you set it for. It always feels easy at the beginning, but how does it feel 5,10 or 15 minutes into a run?
Certainly there is more to expand on each of these, and I encourage you to explore them more. This may help you find the right balance of surfaces for your training and racing goals and keep you going for "The Long Run" and for any "Eagles" fans... here ya go!
Train Smart Race Fast,