Progressive Running

Best Ever Techniques to Run Efficiently

Author: Rez (Page 2 of 3)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Flexibility but You Were Afraid to Ask!

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Trust me, you can run faster if you are not flexible, so what is the fuss about flexibility then?!

Here is a feature in our legs to make us bounce off the ground, and the more rigid the legs are the better they spring back up, like a stretched rubber band; however being like that comes with some downfalls. One is the leg muscles get sore more easily as the intensity of workout increases. The second downfall is the smaller range of motion of the joints which can affect the length of strides.

High range of motion at joints is the first benefit of being flexible. The wider the legs can go, the longer our strides can be, meaning a person with more flexible hamstrings should be able to take a distance with less number of strides (efficiency and speed).

Flexible muscles are less likely to face DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) , so the training can intensify with less chance of interruption to the training routine due to DOMS. Soreness is actually caused from eccentric contractions. Eccentric contraction occurs when muscles resist against a motion and lengthen while trying to shorten, simple example at running is at landing time when body makes stopping. At this phase leg muscles try to move body away from the ground while the body is still going downwards. The stiffer the leg muscles are for this, the faster they make the runner bounce off the ground however the more likely to get sore, sometimes really bad which can be a huge impediment to train sooner again.

The solution is to have a responsive nervous system to get the legs bounce off quickly as feet touch the ground, while the muscles maintain good level of flexibility.

On soreness, when appears at an area, although is not an injury, it is a simple sign not to stress the area. Pushing through soreness can result in serious injuries. You have to be gentle with sore muscles. Take the next day off or easy or go for alternative training, like cycling (as one without or low eccentric contractions involved), until the symptoms are gone.

Think You Can Run?!

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“No offence but I do not pay for running”

I get that a lot. Actually, I used to think like that. First time my eyes caught an issue of Runner’s World magazine I thought to myself what could be new in there and how they could manage new content from an issue to another?! At the time my understanding of running was to put gear on and run like a proud mammal! In the hindsight, I was not doing right.

A few years ago when I was at peak of my activities, more than over-training I exhausted myself with inefficient form. I had no idea of efficiency and proper running form, I just followed my nature, trained spontaneously and the only thing I knew about form was to ensure landing on my toes/front foot like a barefoot primitive caveman to absorb the landing shock in the most natural way.

Although I was right about fore-foot striking, it was not enough to prevent injuries and extreme exhaustion. I learned that everything takes education, even the most natural ones, especially when you take them into a competitive level.

What I find interesting is that out of my small circle of elite runners I have rarely bumped into someone who are aware of their running form; such questions perplex them sometimes:

  • do you know you toe-push off the ground?
  • do you know you are a heel-striker?
  • do you know your knees are out?
  • do you know your hips have excessive movement?

and there are a lot more I can tell them about the angles they can improve their running form. That is when I say to myself: “yeah, I have been there, I used to think I could run”.

Why Progressive?

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Did you know that our body realizes the benefits of an exercise within 8-12 days after the exercise? This fact simply means that our body receives a signal, a hint, about what our expectations are, and it grows towards the expectations. But does it mean we can perform exercises at any level of intensity expecting our body to evolve on the right track? I would say no, though the body moves somehow towards the hints. The reason is if it is not properly recovered from an exercise, we are risking our health and may face injuries, so we are not practically going on the right track.

We stress our body at training, this stress creates the hints, and two major parts in our body grow to meet the requirements:

  1. Muscles, tendons and other musculoskeletal tissues
  2. Nervous system

To my experience, most of people are after the first item, getting strong and building lean muscles. No doubt that is more or less the ultimate outcome in appearance, but most of us neglect or do not know about the second point on what role Nervous System plays here and how important it is.

By nervous system, am covering the wiring in our brain combined with the physical nerves going all the way down to the target muscle group and the penetration of the nerves into the area. In this picture, the more nerves grown into the target muscles, the better and stronger those muscles can contract as ordered.new-banner

Developing nervous system helps your strength a lot. It is a like a shortcut to hours of repeating the same activity to make a muscle or muscle group stronger. Do it right (aim for perfection) to get it faster. Regarding strength and its relation to nervous system,  here is my dear friend David Mace, who is a personal trainer specialized in Calisthenics with this post on strength: 12 Rules For Gaining Strength.

Recap,

  • Stressing our body is the key to make it shape up but we have to make sure it would be able to catch up
  • If it cannot repair the muscle tears before the next wave of hints, we may end up injured.
  • The training program should allow our body developing in stages until the final goal is met. Kind of a safe approach with short-term milestones.
  • Then comes the importance of adopting perfect forms which results in better nervous system – can also be interpreted as coordination – that can command muscles in the best way to perform the desired activity right.

 

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