Okay, admit it. I know that there are some runners who lean towards “maintenance” during the winter months rather than training. Hey. I understand. It can get pretty cold and windy out there. For me, this winter hasn’t been bad at all, but I know that some of you have more challenging weather than we do in Southwest Missouri. : )
So, let’s say you’re feeling a little more like a bear waking up after a long sleep and instead of running, you feel like you’re lumbering. It’s not a good feeling and it can feel like you’ll never feel light on your feet again.
Well, if that’s the case, I have a few ideas for you to try to help drop the lumber and return to form more quickly than just “grunting it out.” : )
• After a run of any length, even slow runs, do a set of four striders. A strider is you run for 50 to 100 yards using an exaggerated, “light on your feet,” higher knees (not high knees, just higher than normal) and you bring your feet back and up farther (not a butt kick, but up higher than normal), running light and quick . . . then turn walk a bit for 30 seconds or so and repeat. It helps your body “memory” to FINISH a run strong and in good form and also helps bring you back into an “easier” and lighter running form.
• Fartleks. In the middle of your run, add several 30-second pickups before dropping back into your comfortable pace. These are not striders, but you consciously focus on picking up the pace, which maintaining good form. Start with two pickups and advance to five. You could also just advance to three, but extend the duration of the pickups to 45 seconds to a minute.
• Quick feet. Have you ever been to a gym and you see tape in the shape of a ladder on the floor? This is a quickness ladder. Each square is about a square foot. There are all kinds of drills you can do on these to improve your foot speed. You can look it up online, but if you don’t have a taped ladder (or a nylon rope and plastic ladder like in the below video), you can use chalk on a sidewalk or on your driveway or use small twigs on your lawn to mark 1 foot lengths and focus on quickness. Anyway, here’s the link that gives a few basic ladder exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTFJEK5e2nQ. I would recommend doing these after you warm-up a bit. I don’t think these are good for post runs IF your legs are gassed as it’s difficult to maintain form and you don’t want an injury. Do these as quickly as you can without sacrificing form. You may be quite a bit slower than the person in the video – don’t worry about it. Do what’s quick for you. : )
The key to any “quickness” exercise is to maintain good form. Do not go faster than “good form” allows. It’s been said that practice makes perfect. That’s not really true. The truth is perfect practice makes perfect. So, if you’re going really fast, but your form is horrible, what have you gained besides reinforcing horrible form? Yeah, it may not feel “comfortable” at first, but as your body adapts to good form, good form = efficiency. The more efficiently you run, the better, longer, and faster you are capable of running. : )
Well, welcome to spring and have an awesome run today!
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