Performance Enhancement for Distance Running by Cameron McGarr

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Credit to www.sportsspeedetc.com

Having a background in sprinting I love to take every opportunity I get to pick on distance runners. I never thought I would write an article on how to help them improve their training. However, since I am trying to act my age and put aside my juvenile tactics I have decided to offer some assistance to the distance runners of the world.

First let's take a look at the goal of any distance event. A distance race does not mean an endurance race. It may sound a little weird but there is no such thing as an endurance race. Not in track and field, not in cross country, not in a marathon, not even in a triathlon. The goal of an endurance race is to see who can go the longest. The goal of any other race is to see who can cover the designated distance in the shortest amount of time, making speed the biggest factor. It's essential to understand that the runner who ran the fastest time is in fact the winner, not the runner who completed the event and kept going.

If you are going to train for an event of this nature of course you have to train with distance in mind but alter your mindset just a little. If you never train to run faster and only focus on running further, you will never improve your race times. In reality you will be working backwards by trying to improve your times through increased distance. It makes much more sense to increase your max speed first. This way the race is easier because you will be running below your max. Think of it this way, you have a goal of running a four minute mile but right now you can only run a mile in four minutes 30 seconds. Which approach seems to make more sense, practice running two miles at a slower pace or running half a mile at a faster pace? If you go for running slower, that is exactly what you will be, however, if you work on increasing your speed then that four minute mile pace is relatively easier. The only way to reach the goal is by increasing your top speed. If you t! ake the approach of running slower you will never increase that max number. However, if you move your max higher everything else moves up with it. Another way of looking at it is like a rope ladder. If you push from the bottom up the top never moves but if you lift the top rung all the lower rungs move up as well. Another bonus is this training method allows you to drop the total training volume significantly.

Now that you know you need to increase your max speed we can move on to the other obstacle affecting the training for distance events. You have to put in the “miles” in order to be prepared for a long race. Even though you will be cutting them back considerably by following the above principles, you still have to contend with a volume that can easily create overuse injuries. The list is always the same, shin splints, patella tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, and pulled hamstrings. These are nothing more than your body trying to tell you something is wrong, screaming at you to fix the problem. Most, if not all, of these injuries can be avoided by addressing the postural problems that come along with being a distance runner. These too, are always the same; poor glute function, rounded shoulders, flattened lower back and weak abdominal muscles. It is important to note that most of the postural issues are a result of the runner not being strong enough to ha! ndle the load of his/her own body weight. This causes compensation by the body leading to sub optimal muscular function. If this is the case then it is safe to say that we need not address the injuries themselves but rather focus on the posture. The injuries will go away as a result. The rounded shoulders and glute function are the first and most important things to address. Basically the closer you get to the spine the more important things become. The workout below is a general approach to fixing the most obvious postural issues faced by most distance runners. If you have or had any of the injuries listed above, implementing this workout into your current routine will likely have a positive impact. If you have not had one of the above injuries but do have any one of the postural indicators then an injury is likely in the mail. I am all about analogies so here is one to help you understand how your posture can be holding you back and how fixing it can supercharge ! your running ability. Picture a car driving down the freeway ! with the front tires out of alignment. The speed is limited, the tires are not wearing evenly (overuse injury) and the front end vibrates. By simply re-aligning the front tires you can increase the car's speed and eliminate the two performance deficiencies.

Now if you want to put a bigger engine in the car—well that is a story and workout for another day.

The workout:
1A Hip Thigh Ext 3 sets 12-15 reps 60 sec rest
2A WG Seated Row 3 sets 12-15 reps 60 sec rest
1B Abductor Squat
(hands over head)
2 sets 15 reps each 45 sec rest
2B Modified
OH DB Press (Chek)
2 sets 15 reps 45 sec rest
1C Prone Vacuum 2 sets 1 rep 60 sec hold
60 sec rest
2C Prone Cobra 2 sets 1 rep 60-120 sec hold
60 sec rest

To learn more about my friend Cameron go to www.cameronmcgarr.com


Submitted by DMorgan on Mon, 07/17/2006 - 9:33pm.

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