Tag Archives: running tips

Do Your Feet Have a Running Surface Preference?

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

I certainly think they do. Running surface differences are quite vast, from grass fields, to synthetic tracks, to the brutality of pavement. The beauty behind all of these surfaces is that the majority of them are easily accessible to us, almost anywhere in the world. However, we know that all surfaces have their own pros and cons as related the health of our feet and on up from there. I am sure that you would agree that the softer the surfaces you run on the longer your running career will last. That is why I wanted to examine my top 5 running surfaces, and what are our feet and bodies were saying to us after.

Ratings are listed as most preferred to least preferred.

1. Grass – Ahh grass, the finely cut blades of an open field, with a soft layering of compact dirt beneath. This is my clear cut preferred surface for running on. Grass also provides with the options of running barefoot, connecting with our running surfaces and making sure that we connect every step with the surface it is hitting.

Pros: Grass is soft and easy on the legs in terms of impact, but makes your muscles work hard as the surfaces vary. This builds strength and help drive improvement when returning to the road. Additionally when you find an open field, your surrounded by others who utilize the grassy area for their own recreation providing constant sources of people gazing.

Cons: Grassy plots are often uneven and can be dangerous for runners with unstable ankles. It can also be slippery when wet, runners with allergies may suffer more symptoms when running on it, and its softness can tire legs rather quickly.

 

2. Sand – If only more of it were available in Arizona. Sand offers a run with a challenge. When the sand is dry and deep, you give your calf muscles an excellent work-out without risking any impact damage to your joints.

Pros: Sand gives an opportunity to run barefoot in a pleasant environment. Running through dunes provides good resistance training and strengthens the legs. Open air with vast distances and crashing waves isn’t a bad place to settle into a constant running stride.

Cons: The pliability of sand means a higher risk of Achilles tendon injury. Also, when you run on the sand at the water’s edge, the tilt of the surface puts uneven stresses on the body.

 

3. Synthetic Track – Who doesn’t love a track that is made up of synthetic material, laid out and measured in 400 meter distances. These tracks are generally open to the public, allow runners to measure distances accurately, and focus on improving times related to desired distances.

Pros: Synthetic tracks provide reasonably forgiving surfaces and are pretty close to being 400 meters around, make measuring distances and timing sessions easy.

Cons: With two long curves on every lap, ankles, knees and hips are put under more stress than what one might be accustom to. Longer runs also become rather boring. Rat cage anyone?

 

4. Treadmill – The constant option. Treadmills are the best indoor running option for most runners. Generally, treadmills have monitors that display incline, pace, heart rate, calories burned and other data, which give us users with constant feedback. The running surfaces vary depending on make and model of treadmills.

Pros: The smooth, constant surface is generally easy on the legs, and hitting a desired pace is as easy as setting a number. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about X-factors such as animals, wind and bad weather. The constant speed and control makes a treadmill ideal for speed work.

Cons: Running on the same spot isn’t very exciting, and if you don’t concentrate on keeping up your pace, you could be thrown off the machine. Treadmill runners tend to sweat profusely as your usually cooped amongst other runners with limited air flow. Machines are too expensive for most runners, and gym memberships may be unrealistic if you are just going there to run.

 

5. Roads – Just look outside your front door and take that first step. Altough very abundant, it certainly isn’t exciting to run on something meant for commuter traffic. Concrete is primarily made up of cement (crushed rock), and it’s what most pavements and five per cent of roads are constructed from. It delivers the most shock of any surface to a runner’s legs.

Pros: Concrete surfaces tend to be easily accessible and very flat. They go on forever, and accruing mileage won’t be a hard task.

Cons: The combination of a hard surface and the need to sidestep pedestrians, can lead to injury and too much weaving.

These are my top 5, please leave your comments below and share your running surface preference below or some funny stories that have occurred to you while running on one of your favorite surfaces.

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Sources:

– Top 10 running surfaces – Marc Bloom and Steve Smythe

– Google Images

3 Helpful Core Exercises for Runners

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

All runners would agree that having strong legs is essential for their sport, but integrating core exercises into your overall routine is a must as you look towards becoming a more competitive runner. Full body, core and hip-focused exercises are a must if you want to stay injury-free and run to your best potential (Jon-Erik Kawamoto).

In a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Gottschall et al., 2013) examined the difference between isolation-type core exercises, like crunches, and compared them to integration-type core exercises that incorporated distal trunk muscle activation, like the pushup plank with alternating knees. The researchers found greater core muscle activation during the integration-type exercises and concluded “an integrated routine that incorporates the activation of distal trunk musculature would be optimal in terms of maximizing strength, improving endurance, enhancing stability, reducing injury, and maintaining mobility.”

 Let’s get started then and integrate some of these helpful core exercises listed below into our own routine.

Exercises:

1) Superman’s

How to: Start lying face down on a matt. Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 3 seconds. Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Repeat about 10 to 15 repetitions with multiple sets.  

2) Russian Twists

How to: Grab a medicine ball, dumbbell, or weight plate and sit on the floor face up. Hold the weight straight out in front of you and keep your back straight (your torso should be at about 45 degrees to the floor). Explosively twist your torso as far as you can to the left, and then reverse the motion, twisting as far as you can to the right. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 – 15 repetitions, multiple sets.

3) Push-up plank with alternating knee tucks (to the abdomen)

How to: Go into the top of a pushup. Brace your abs and squeeze your butt to form a straight line from the top of your head to your ankles. Without moving your body, bring one knee into your chest. Do not round your back. Return the leg to the starting position and switch sides. Repeat 10 – 15 repetitions, multiple sets.

Sources:

Four Key Core Exercises For Runners – Linzay Logan http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/four-key-core-exercises-for-runners_41874/4

The Crunchless Core Workout For Runners – Jon-Erik Kawamoto – http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-crunchless-core-workout-for-runners_78042/3

Google Images

 

 

 

 

The Necessity of Proper Running Technique

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Have you ever found yourself on the treadmill wondering to yourself, is my running form correct? You look to your right and one person has enormous stride length and a slight lean forward and seems to bounce off the treadmill with every step. On the left, you see someone else with arms bent at ninety degrees a loose grip, square shoulders and shorter strides. Then it all comes back to you, how am I supposed to hold myself while running?

With the popularity of multiple disciplinary movements like Minimalism, ChiRunning and the Pose Method of Running, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the average to figure out what they should be doing. So, as to offer a helping hand let’s take a quick look into these three disciplines of running form as to provide you with an introduction to what might work for you.

Principles of ChiRunning include:

  • Relaxation
  • Correct alignment and posture
  • Landing with a mid-foot strike
  • Using a “gravity-assisted” forward lean
  • Engaging core strength for propulsion
  • Connecting the mind and body to prevent injury

Derived from tai-chi and put into plan by Danny Dreyer, ChiRunning focuses on posture, leg swing, the position of the pelvis and a forward lean.

What is Minimalism Running?

According to an article appearing in the April 2010 issue of “Running Times,” minimalist/minimalism runners believe you should be running without shoes or minimalist shoes that feature a minimal heel rise and a very thin sole.

Pros:

  • Improve your stride
  • Encourages awareness of the motion of your feet
  • Increases efficiency by placing less weight on your feet

Cons:

  • Possibility of injury from sharp surfaces
  • Stress on muscles and tendons that haven’t been conditioned for this style of running
  • Potential stress fractures, tendonitis, bruises and lacerations

 Understanding the Pose Method of Running:

Form:

1. S-like body position with slightly bent knees
2. Forward lean from the ankles to employ gravity and work with it not against it
3. Pulling or lifting feet up under the hip not behind the buttocks
4. Ball of foot landing under your body (your GCM – general center of mass)

Pose Method of Running emphasizes efficient, injury-free running taught through poses. Use the Pose Method® of Running technique to prevent injuries and to dramatically improve your running performance.

What can it do for you?

  • Reduce impact on knees by 50% (Scientifically proven)
  • Dramatically improve training and racing performance
  • Give you a competitive edge
  • Help prevent injuries
  • Help you lose orthotics for good

It is my hope in the brief introduction to these three running forms that you are better informed on what aspects you can take from one or all three styles and incorporate them into your improved running form.

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Sources:

– Proper running form – Jennifer Van Allen

– The Perfect Form – Jane Unger Hahn

– Chirunning.com

– Active.com

http://www.posetech.com/pose_method/pose-method-of-running-technique.html – Dr.Nicholas Romanov

 

4 Essential Hydration Tips for Runners

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Runners are well aware of the importance on staying hydrated to run their best, especially in the heat of summer. “Being more than two percent dehydrated in warm environments causes a decline in performance,” says Robert W. Kenefick, Ph.D., a physiologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Keep fluids nearby by stashing a water bottle in a gym bag or leave sports drink in your car. However, to improve performance, you need to be more than a casual sipper. A number of recent studies offer runners smarter ways to stay hydrated while also giving their running a boost. Here is how you can apply some of these strategies to your own hydration plan and boost your running performance.

PRE-HYDRATE TO RUN FAST

WHY: In a study in the April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training, runners who started a 12K race dehydrated on an 80°F day finished about two and a half minutes slower compared to when they ran it hydrated. Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body’s ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands.

DRINK UP: Drink eight up to 16 ounces one to two hours before a run. “Sports drinks and water are good choices”, says running coach Cassie Dimmick, R.D. Iced coffee and tea are fine, too. Should you have forgotten to consume those liquids beforehand, fifteen to 30 minutes before going out for that run, drink at least four to eight ounces of fluids.

GO COLD FOR LONGER RUNS

WHY: In a study published in 2008 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, cyclists who drank cold beverages before and during their workout exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages. And in a study published this year, runners who had an ice slushy ran about 10 minutes longer than when they had a cold drink. In both cases, the drink that was colder lowered body temperature and perceived effort, allowing participants to exercise longer.

DRINK UP: Before hitting the pavement for a hot run, have a slushy made with crushed ice and your favorite sports drink. To keep drinks chilled while you run, fill a bottle halfway, freeze it, and top it off with fluid before starting.

STAY ON SCHEDULE

WHY: According to a study in the July 2009 Journal of Sports Sciences, when cyclists recorded their plan for hydrating during workouts—including exact times and amounts—they drank more frequently and consumed more fluid midworkout than their nonplanning peers. “Planning helps people remember how much and when they need to drink,” says lead author Martin Hagger, Ph.D., of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

DRINK UP: Note or write down your thirst during your runs, and write down how often and how much you drink. Review your notes to help you plan when to drink. Set your watch to beep every 15 minutes as a reminder to consider your thirst. “Drinking smaller amounts at regular intervals can help you absorb fluid more effectively,” says Dimmick, “

JUST HAVE A SIP

WHY: Don’t feel like chugging down a gallon of Gatorade? You don’t have to. According to a study in the April 2010 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, runners who rinsed their mouths with a carb solution right before and every 15 minutes during hour-long treadmill sessions ran faster and about 200 meters farther than those who rinsed with a placebo. “Carbs trigger reward centers in the brain,” says Ian Rollo, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors. The brain senses incoming energy “which may lower the perceived effort,” he says.

DRINK UP: For shorter runs when you want the benefits of a sports drink minus the extra calories, drinking a swish just might do the trick. It is also good news for runners who get queasy from ingesting a lot of sugar at once. But for runs over an hour, find a drink you can stand to swallow (see “What’ll You Have?” below).

RUNNING TIME GUIDELINES:

Your mid-run fluid needs depend on how long you are running for:

ONE HOUR OR LESS Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tough run over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to give you an extra boost of energy at the end.

ONE TO FOUR HOURS Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbs and electrolytes will replenish sodium. Prefer gels? Chase them with water to avoid sugar overload.

OVER FOUR HOURS Drink three to six ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you are thirsty and less if you are not).

POSTRUN Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes post run. Usually eight to 24 ounces is fine, but it varies based on running conditions.

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Sources:

Key Hydration Tips for Runners – Karen Asp | Runner’s World

Fuel Your Body Effectively Pre/Post and During Your Running Program

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled: CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Our bodies are constantly on the go and we know the importance of what we fuel ourselves with has a direct correlation on the performance of what we can get out of it. Every fitness program emphasizes certain nutritional guidelines, whether you are looking to bulk up, lose weight, or sustain your energy levels throughout your day. Running is no different and requires specific nutritional guidelines in order to sustain pace, increase distances and derive marked improvements in speed/time. Below, we will emphasize a few critical nutritional components towards improving your “Running” program:

Before You Exercise:

Stay away from the snack if you are running for less than an hour. When needing a boost, have 100 calories of mostly carbs, like a couple of handfuls of whole-grain crackers. If you do not have time for a quick snack, drink 8 to 12 ounces of water or a low-cal sports drink such as a Gatorade G2 and get to your run. If running longer, (over 3 miles) eat a combo of protein and carbs, like peanut butter with a banana or apple and multi-grain toast (200 to 300 calories), about an hour beforehand.

During Your Run:

Consume 6 to 8 ounces of H2O or other fluids every 15 minutes to stay hydrated or every mile and a half. When running over an hour, your body will want more than water. Sports drinks give you the electrolytes, fluids, and sugar-filled carbs you need. Recommendations for sports drinks include: Coconut Water, Emergen-C Electro Mix formula. Energy gels are also potential alternatives.

When You Are Done:

Emphasize the need to refuel effectively by eating within 30 minutes post-workout.   This is when your muscles replace their power supply fastest. For example, grab an 8- to 12-ounce glass of chocolate almond milk or a combo of mostly carbs being rice cakes or pretzels, and a combination of fruits. Target your carbohydrate consumption to (75 to 80 percent) with some protein (20 to 25 percent).

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Sources:

Alyssa Shaffer – Fitness Magazine

 

3 Upper Body Strength Training Exercises That Improve Running Performance

ImageBy: Geoff Rubin, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Our bodies interact as one integrated system. When emphasizing proper running form, we must look at the performance of how the entire kinetic chain is moving, from the toes all the way up. While running, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps drive the body forward so the lower body is not doing all the work. Having a strong upper body bolsters a runner’s form when fatigue sets in.

Incorporate the following exercises to build upper body strength in the weight room as to improve running performance. Many of the exercises below focus on unilateral or single limb exercises to replicate proper running form. They also emphasize balance at the shoulder joint, counteracting pronation of the shoulders from the blunders of a sedentary work environment.

1: Single Arm Body-weight Row

Image

  • How to do it: Use a TRX or barbells set at sternum height. Grab the bar/ handle with one hand using a neutral (palm facing in) grip. Walk your feet forward so that your body comes closer to parallel with the ground. Pull your shoulder back and be sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement. Pull your chest to the bar keep your shoulders square the entire time.

  • How this helps: Rounded shoulders prevent proper running form by limiting the ability of the chest to expand. Incorporating more pulling exercises in your strength training program is one way to even out the chest by retracting and depressing the shoulders. This pulling exercise forces your core and upper body to maintain a square posture similar to the running motion.

2: Torso Rotation with Resistance Band

ImageHow to do it: Secure a cable or resistance band at waist height on your right side. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold the cable in front of you with straight arms—there should be tension in the cable. Brace your core. Maintaining an erect torso and without moving your legs, rotate your torso so that your hands (and the cable) move to the left while maintaining your original head position. Rotate back to the start and all the way to the right. Switch positions so the cable is on your left side, and repeat.

How this helps: Arm swinging requires movement and a level of rotation in your upper spine. Your body rotates like a pivot.” To ward off fatigue, “we need to make sure the thoracic (upper) spine is nice and loose.” – (Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT)

3) Alternating High Knees

ImageHow to do it: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest while keeping your left arm at a 90 degree bend as to connect the two sides and quickly place the leg and arm back to their starting positions. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest with your right arm bent at a 90 degree angle. Continue to alternate knees with the corresponding arms.

How this helps:  The action of running is a fluid forward progression with minimal trunk rotation. Incorporating the motion of high knees drives the hip forward contracting the quads while emphasizing a counterbalanced motion of the hands. This translates over to the pavement.

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Sources:
Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT

NIKKI KIMBALL, M.S.P.T.

Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT