DISTANCE RUNNING: 3 BEST WAYS TO TRAIN
Distance runners are notorious for running miles and miles each week to become better. However, too many of us “go out” for a run and do not practice our running mechanics to perfect the sport. You would never see a football team scrimmage every single day for practice and expect to become a better team; they break down every aspect of their sport daily. For a runner, this should be no different. To become healthier and stronger runners, we need to train our running mechanics every day through drills, strength training, and speed development.
- Drills are crucial in every athlete’s programming. Most runners start with drills at a young age but lose this training aspect when going away to college or leaving a high-level program. We forget the foundations that built us into the athletes we are today. Drills are the only way we can practice and break down front side mechanics, backside mechanics, and landing positions. Drills such as the A-Skip are an easy way to train knee drive (front side) while focusing on a strong push off the backside leg. Each athlete can focus on their individual needs by adjusting what drill(s) they perform.
- Examples: A-Skips, B-Skips, and Ankling
- Many athletes think they can simply change their running form by thinking about it, but this often results in overcomplication. For instance, if someone tries to change how they strike the ground (i.e. heel strike), they will likely land in an unnatural position and cause an injury such as knee or hip pain.
- Changing your running form begins with a proper strength training program (ideally 2-3x per week depending on season). In order to activate the proper muscle groups as a runner, you need to practice activations and flexions through strength and stabilization exercises. Take the same example of altering how the foot strikes the ground. Instead of “thinking” about the change, learning how to produce force through the glutes can lead to a better backside push, land earlier in stride, and have a better foot strike – all through strength training. Strength training is not necessarily about lifting heavy weights but producing force and activation in the muscles we use to run.
- Example: Banded Wall Push (3×10 reps each side)
3. Speed Development
- With speed development, we can focus on slight modifications and repeat them with less risk of injury, as opposed to making a change during a long, strenuous run. Drills can often be paired with speed intervals to shift our focus depending on the need of the athlete. Adding variety also helps with injury prevention.
- Speed training is one of the few times we can actually think about our running mechanics. Hill sprints are great way to train our push off the ground while obtaining proper knee drive. The hill will naturally put us in a better position to drive through the ground and maintain momentum. These should be done throughout the yearly training cycle 1-3x per week.
If you’re ready to elevate your training regimen, our Sports Performance Coaches are here to help. Training HAUS offers both small group and sport-specific classes. Click here for more information about our sports performance programs or schedule a session today.