Every time I go out for a run, pick up a barbell, stretch, eat, sleep, etc., I have an agenda. My agenda is to become faster and stronger. Specifically, it’s to run 3:55 in the mile. So when I put on my shoes and hit the trail for my long run, I’m focused on a specific task. For my long runs, I’m focused on an intensity level of about 75% (just below tempo effort) for a period of 90minutes or more. Some days that looks like 5:50/mile pace, others it looks like 7:50/mile pace. The key is adjusting the intensity according to how I’m feeling for that day within the above parameters. When finished, I should feel relaxed and comfortably tired.
Before my long runs (within 1hr before), I like to do a 5×3 max effort back squat or deadlift. This gives me two different domains for the day. A fast/explosive work coupled with long moderate intensity. I believe the strength/endurance gains are absolutely unmatched and I also feel recovered quicker than when I don’t perform something heavy.
For a better part of the week I’ve been dealing with a stomach bug Joss brought home from day-care (an easy scape-goat guess), so today’s LR was going to err on the light and easy side. I managed about 10 miles averaging just below 7min pace. Actually at around 45min, I was still feeling like dirt and decided it might be better to head in. At that moment I made a conscience decision to feel “light and relaxed”. Before long, my pace quickened and another 25min was tacked on the clock. Feeling like I could have done more, I erred on the side of caution and shut it down.
Ideally, I would head back to the gym after a LR and perform 100KB swings in addition to the CrossFit Endurance prescribed recovery movements (3×10 of squats, GHD’s, situps, pushups) all in an effort to regain range of motion (ROM). Hip flexor stretches (deep lunge position with my back foot on a box, outside arm reaching as high as possible), hamstring/quad stretches are also a part of the regime. In my mind, inarguably the greatest detriment to running form I see is loss of ROM caused by tight hip flexors/psoas. Not only does this pitch the athlete forward (breaking at the hips), it causes the runner to land at the top of the foot (rather than midfoot), putting greater strain on the plantar and achilles. In other cases the athlete will just stick his foot out in front of him to “catch” himself, thus the heel strike. Both scenarios are bad and lead to many of the common runner injuries.
Much of what we do in the gym is trying to reclaim loss of ROM. Sitting or being in a fixed position for long periods of time (cars, desks and running) destroys hip function over time if not properly addressed. As we know now, hip function is crucial for the endurance athlete.
See you in the gym,
PS. If you scroll through some of my earlier posts, I talk about stretches and exercises to help open up the hips.