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Run Faster & Stronger Through Strength Training

By: Angela Joy

Most runners participate in only one form of exercise which is, you guessed it – running.

Doing the same form of exercise each day is not effective in properly strengthening the body’s muscles, improving performance and preventing injuries.

As a result, it is suggested that runners participate in a consistent resistance training program to properly strengthen their muscles and evenly distribute their weight.

Strength training will not only assist in preventing injuries, it will also increase speed, endurance, runner efficiency, balance and flexibility.

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Why Strength Train?

As a runner it is easy to fall into the pattern of running the same route, for the same distance, for the same amount of time, day in and day out.

When we participate in the same consistent form of exercise our muscles are not being challenged.

Over time the body will acclimate to these activities and will not build strength or endurance.

Chief Science Officer at the American Council on Exercise Cedric Bryant reported that variety in an exercise routine allows the body to be physically challenged.

He concluded in an ACE article titled, “Why is it Important to Vary My Exercise Routine,” many of the body’s physiological systems, such as the muscular system, will adapt to an exercise program within approximately six to eight weeks.

He further stated that continuing to participate in the same form of exercise activities will cause the body to “reach a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus.”

In an effort to prevent reaching a plateau it is not only beneficial to alternate between different types of workouts, but to also incorporate different styles, durations, equipment and intensities.

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The Benefits of Strength Training

The muscles used during running must be properly strengthened, stretched and cared for in order to sustain your running ventures, reach performance goals and increase your running abilities.

Strength training will create strong muscles, prevent injury, improve speed and confidence, improve running efficiency, while also allowing the body to more effectively utilize each breath.

A Runner’s World Magazine article titled, “Strength Training for Runners” stated that if you want to “perform at your full potential” you need to take a comprehensive approach to your training – which includes flexibility, mobility, balance and strength training.

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How to Strength Train

Strength training is defined by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as “a form of physical activity that is designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance.”

Strength training activities can be accomplished through traditional free weights, body weight exercises, resistance machine exercises, elastic tubing, medicine balls, and even household items such as cans and jugs, the ACSM stated in a 2013 report on resistance training.

The ACSM recommends that a strength training program is performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week.

According to the ACSM, one standard strength training session should be made up of 8 to 10 different exercises that target all of the major muscle groups, and each exercise should be completed for a total of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Strength training workouts general target the chest, back, shoulders, bicep, triceps, abdomen, quadriceps and hamstring muscles.

Runners however tend to focus on specific areas of their body when participating in a strength training program.

According to Runner’s World Magazine runners should focus on strengthening three areas; the core, upper body and lower body.

Core muscles strengthen the abdominals and back. These muscles are the foundation of all movement. Therefore, a strong core create and support strong legs and arms.

Lower body muscles include the soleus, gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, quadriceps and hamstring muscles.

These muscles create leg strength to withstand fast, long and difficult running ventures.

Upper body muscles include the shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps. These muscles increase speed during running as the runner pumps their arms and proportionately balances their bodies.

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Strength Training Exercises

A few examples of resistance training exercises to improve running ability, strength and performance include;

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Plank
  • Clamshells
  • Bent-over row
  • Side plank
  • Lower body Russian twists
  • Scorpion
  • Back extension
  • Hip bridge
  • Jack knife
  • Alternating shoulder press
  • Deadlift

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Accomplished American marathon runner Amby Burfoot has inspired millions of runner with his quote, “You have to want it, you have to plan for it, you have to fit it into a busy day, you have to be mentally tough, you have to use others to help you. The hard part isn’t getting your body in shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.”

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Wednesday’s Dose of Inspiration

By: Angela Joy

Do what you love

Don’t be afraid to do what you love.

Fear is only a thought within the mind holding you in the current state that you are in.

Whatever it is that you love, dream and hope for — reach out and grab it. Ignore fear. Disregard everyone and everything trying to obstruct you from achieving your goals.

When all is said in done, you will be grateful.

If you let fear overcome your thoughts and actions, you will never know what could have become of your life.

Step away from your fears and closer to these things that you love. 

What are some things you are struggling with? In what ways are you able to overcome them? Have you been successful in pursuing your dreams, or are you allowing fear to overcome your actions? 

Wishing you love, joy and blessings,

Angela Joy

Become a Faster, Stronger, Healthier Runner with Optimal Form

By: Angela Ciroalo

As a runner living along the Jersey Shore I commonly pass other runners by the beach or throughout local trails.

Some are running slow, others running fast – one thing that I can’t help but notice is the many differences in each runner’s form.

A runner’s form is the position of their spine, head, arms, legs and feet while running.

Form is an important component of running that I do not think receives enough attention.

When first learning to run people often focus on the length of time they are able to complete a run or how fast they were, meanwhile the movement of their body is often overlooked.

Form is important because the position of the body can greatly impact a runner’s performance, their instance of injury, and even their level of enjoyment.

As a new runner, I too never gave my form much thought. I did not see the significance and

However, as time continued, and my knee pain increased, I realized the importance of proper running form.

Correct Running Form
Photo taken from travellingscorner.com

Running Form Mistakes
The 10 most common running mistakes, according Iloverunningmagazine.com, include; looking down; keeping the shoulders and body tense; clenching the fists; rotating the torso; placing the arms in the “chicken wing” position; leaning the torso too far forward; over-striding; heel-striking; over bending the knees; and breathing shallow.

Bad Running FOrm
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hoto taken from zero-drop.com

Most runners will make one or more of these mistakes every day.

Now that you are aware of these common mistakes let’s take a look at how to fix them – and help you achieve peak running performance.

The Runner’s Head
We will address the placement of your entire body, since running is a sport that includes the entire body, but first we will begin with the head.

Proper running form includes an upright head looking forward.
When a runner is looking down, their neck and back muscles become strained trying to support their 7 to 10 pound head.

Over time, the strain can turn into an injury, ultimately damaging muscles and causing unnecessary pain.

In an article published on WorldRunning.com, an international running site powered by the International Association of Athletics Federation, it was suggested that runners keep their head in a straight and neutral position, allowing the head to align with the shoulders and back.

Maintaining a straight and upright head will improve posture, performance and experience.
It will also allow you to notice the beautiful scenery around you, the other smiling runners – and prevent you from running into any poles or cars.

The Runner’s Shoulders
Runners often arch their back and raise their shoulders, as if they were typing at a computer.

Running in proper form includes rolling the shoulders back and keeping them square with the chest.

Another good tip to keep in mind is to allow the shoulders to remain loose and free from tension.

The Runner’s Spine
The spine can move in many different directions depending on the placement of the runner’s body.

Runners can achieve optimal performance when running with a straight, upright spine.

A common term used to explain optimal posture is to “run tall” or to run with a string pulling the head and body up straight.

Placement of the Arms and Hands
While running the arms are used to balance the body while the feet lift off the ground.

Optimal balance and running performance is created when the arms move at the same pace as the feet, the arms are moving towards the shoulders and back down towards the hips, and the hands are loose.

A few things to avoid include running with arms across the body, keeping the hands close to the shoulders, and clenching the fists.

Running should be a smooth and relaxed, symmetrical movement throughout the entire body.

The Runner’s Stride
In an article published on WorldRunning.com, it stated that optimal running performance is achieved when a runner’s strides are short and the knees have a slight bend and lift.

Making shorter strides, no further than your knee, will cause your feet to land under the body, opposed over-striding the leg away from the body.

Forefront
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hoto taken from altitude-blog.com

The Runner’s Foot Placement
In recent years, much debate has been expressed between the differences in landing on the heel or the forefront of the foot.

WorldRunning.com stated that landing on the forefoot area of the foot is “the most efficient way of running” to prevent injury and achieve peak performance.

Due to the suggested benefits I decided to give it a try.

What I found was that my knee pain disappeared, my form straightened and my performance improved.

Physical therapist Jay Dicharry from the University of Virginia’s Center for Endurance Sport stated in a Runners World Magazine article that when the foot lands on the forefront, the ankle and foot will absorb the force of the landing and create a spring in each lift off.

When the heel lands, however, the landing is a “stiff system” which does not allow the ankle to “give,” Mr. Dicharry said.

Therefore, when the heel hits the ground the shock will be shifted to the knee.

This is not to say that the heel strike is wrong. Some runners prefer it and have not had any issues as a result of landing on their heels.

Running Tips
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hoto taken from thrillon.com

The Benefits of Proper Running Form
Each of these tips do not have to be incorporated all at once. If there is one that you prefer to the other, try that first and make changes gradually.

Transforming the way you run can make lasting changes in your performance, posture, health as well as your love for the sport.

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself,” running champion and author John Bigham once said.

This article was previously published in Night and Day Magazine

Angela Ciroalo_Running Form_2015

Best,

Angela Joy

Resources for improving running form:
Runner’s World: http://bit.ly/1e62ybx
http://bit.ly/1j2yCtR
I Love Running Magainze: http://bit.ly/1Mt2ehQ
YMCA: http://bit.ly/1FM3J6P
World Running: http://bit.ly/1jr5PTD
The Run Doctor: http://bit.ly/1B98Ukl
Good Running Form: http://www.goodformrunning.com/
Chi Running: http://bit.ly/1pFfEk2
Competitor.com: http://bit.ly/1nLoYOD

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