Monday, 8 December 2014

Your Strength is Your Shield

"He needed to be much stronger" - this is what Alberto Salazar said when Mo Farah first joined him.
He introduced squatting and deadlifting with over 200lb. And pilates to remain flexible.
All year round.
In fact before he broke Steve Cram's 1500 metre record he'd lifted weights until 4 days beforehand.

All top athletes do strength and gym work.
In most sports enthusiastic amateurs try to emulate the professionals. Yet in running most seem to eschew the gym. Most think it odd how much time I spend on strength work.

So what does it do for Mo?
  • Well for Mo Farah et al it gives them some more explosive power - but as importantly it enables them to hold their form in the later stages of a race. Their core strength and (anti) rotational core strength stops them rolling and stops lateral movement. And coming down the finishing straight this can make all the difference where fractions of a second count.

What will it do for you?
  • It won't make you hugely faster in terms of minutes per mile
  • It isn't a substitute for your running training
  • It should make you a bit faster over a marathon because you will be stronger in the last 6 miles. You will be able to hold your form better.

  • Most importantly of all - IT HELPS TO PREVENT INJURY
  • Around 70% of runners get injured every year. This has remained pretty constant since before and during all the changes in shoe technology.
  • For multi-day and long distance runners you are at risk as you tire. Watch how many people start rocking and rolling, moving side to side, head and body lolling. You will probably be one of them.
  • Lateral movement is a waste of energy and it loses you time - you want everything moving forward.
  • But more seriously it starts to change your leg joint relationships. Your hips, knees and ankles won't be moving as they were before. There'll be extra twisting and unusual load.
  • And this is what leads to injury. Which accumulates over long distances and multi-day running.

Extra strength throughout your body - legs, core,  rotational core in particular - helps to minimise this and delay the onset.

This is why I go to the gym - to prevent and avoid injury. Has it worked? Well I've only had one injury that has stopped me since I started running and I've put my ageing body through some fairly severe testing!

Last Week on the Road and in the Gym:
  • Monday - 8 miles then gym
  • Tuesday - gym then 3 miles
  • Wednesday - working away and stuck in traffic. Home gym
  • Thursday - gym then 3 miles including serious hill
  • Friday - gym and 1 hour cross-trainer using legs only
  • Saturday - 24 mile run
  • Sunday - home gym then 6 mile run

Still working round my foot (I don't count this as an injury for the above purposes as it is a congenital defect which I've had trouble with on and off all my life). A bit of strapping gave me over 20 miles on Saturday before I started getting a few problems. But over the worst for the time being ... touch wood.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone"  

(running ground - from my kitchen window)

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