We’re all on a quest to seek improvement. For some, improvement takes the back seat to simply being in the action, but even those who have their sights on finishing certainly would like to see improvement from one race to the next.
Unfortunately, steady improvement can be challenging, particularly with injury rates soaring upwards of 80%. It’s tough to find continued improvement when you’re frequently sidelined with a sore wheel. Looking at the statistics, one would assume the runner can-do attitude would yield an endless pursuit of injury prevention. In a sport where we’re all seeking longevity, it appears our can-do attitude can wait until tomorrow. Where is the urgency?
Unfortunately, we can find the cause of most injuries by looking in the mirror. Most runners fall victim to thier training plans that are high on running but low strength training. Most runners will admit that they’re a little afraid of higher volume weeks. With most runners nervously navigating their training plans, one would expect the response to be a focus on quality and prevention, not quantity and quantity. Too often runners are forgetful of their injury past. The frustration of a running injury often conveys a commitment to prevention next time around. It’s always, “next time I’ll pay more attention to strength, stretching, etc.” As injuries fade so does that of our commitment. Post-injury amnesia leaves our oath to prevention at the door.
For those who have grabbed the reins, do you know if you’re even heading in the right direction? Unfortunately, even those who are trying to steer their running down a path of speed and durability may be off course altogether.
This is the tricky part. Most over-the-counter strength programs can provide gains in fitness; after all, that’s their intention. If your goal is to supplement your fitness then continue, but for those looking to compliment their running, these programs, but not all, will rarely satisfy your need for speed and durability. The goal is to use a strength program as a catalyst to your training, not a twice a week time filler.
Take the runner I outline below. A 2008 bike crash left her with a fractured hip, eventually yielding a surgery with pin placement for fixation (not the type of hardware were all looking for). The surgery erased an entire year of running. Flash foward a few years and she continually battled frequent injuries. Every marathon build left her running on eggshells, simply looking survive long runs and higher mileage weeks. Although most of us can’t relate to fracturing our hip, we all have our own baggage that shapes the way we move: pregnancy, surgeries, sprains, strains, bony structure, etc.
Enter runner-specific strengthening. A commitment to our BaseSix Bootcamp, changing her run form, and small tweaks to her training plan paid off. She punched a ticket to Boston, while stealing an unexpected PR in the half marathon. The plan was simple. Integrate the RunSmart BaseSix Bootcamp into training. The emphasis on incorporating was as important as the runs themselves.
“On average I did them [BaseSix Bootcamp] three times per week. I felt like I recovered quickly from longer tempo workouts and long runs, so I had very little down time where I felt beat up.”
This runner is not the only one, find more stories here. I can’t emphasize enough that not all strength programs are equal. If you’re already implementing strength workouts into your plan be sure they are running specific (if your goal is to supplement your running). If you’re not finding the time for strength, it’s time to stop pulling the blankets over your eyes and plan for success–not hope for it. The pursuit for injury free running is eternal.