“All people are born to run.”—Chris McDougal, author of Born to Run
Is this quote really true? Are humans made to run? Why, if this quote is true, are 66 percent of runners injured (according to Runner's World article, “10 Laws of Injury Prevention”)? Running is a very popular activity. You have people that run competitively, for recreation, for weight loss, to meet people and because you can basically just lace up some shoes and go. But overuse, bad programming, poor mechanics, lack of strength and poor biomechanics are leading to an over abundance of running related injuries. How you decide to construct your running program might be the single most determining factor of success. Are you just running? Are you implementing specific strength work to your program? Do you adjust your training when fatigue sets in? Do you know your level?
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Running comes in different forms. You have elite marathon runners who can bust out 4:55-minute miles during a race (pretty much a sprint for most people). You have recreational “runners” (probably considered “joggers”) who start running for weight loss, improved health and/or to be around like-minded people.
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You have athletes that despise running anything over a mile but enjoy running sprints and shorter intervals. You have ultra-marathoners who clock in 150-mile weeks on a consistent basis and battle through 100-mile ultra races. And then there are the weekend warriors who train just as hard as the professionals and put in just as much time but also have a full time job and full family responsibilities.
Before getting into a specific running program, it’s important to 5 areas first before getting into the specifics of a running program.
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1. “Don’t run to get fit, be fit to run.”
This quote by physical therapist Diane Lee is important to understand in regards to long distance running. Too many beginners step outside, lace up their shoes and start running. In fact, too many experienced runners do the same thing. They disregard crucial elements of a balanced program. Without proper functional strength, mobility, stability and biomechanics, this is a recipe for injury.
First get strong. And strong doesn't mean single joint exercises like leg extensions, leg curls, biceps curls and/or triceps extensions. Strength is the ability to control the body’s weight. Strength is adequate flexibility and range of motion. Strength is left and right side symmetry. Strength is learning how to move cohesively. If you just run without being fit to run, you will increase your chances of injury.
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2. Running long doesn’t have to be for everyone. If you're a general fitness enthustiast, long distances probably aren't for you. If you're capable, do sprints, running drills and push the sled as part of our training programs; don't run on the treadmill for 1 hour or go on a run outside to “burn fat.” When it comes to training general fitness, create minimal impact on the body and utilizes your training time in the most efficient way possible. If you'e training 3 days a week or less, incorporate your entire body each workout.
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