Rain or shine you are piling up the miles, getting ready for the next. But your performance doesn’t seem to be improving, maybe you’re even going backwards, or the fear of injury is creeping in.
Consider the difference between training for running and conditioning for running. Training is the daily run itself; conditioning is about preparing for those runs.
When you are “conditioned” for running, you are prepared for the demand all those miles put on your body. The reality is most runners spend their time training, believing that running alone is the key to running better. But staying in the best running shape means understanding the demands running places on your body and meeting them with a conditioning program.
There are lots of running myths out there, but these two line up well with our long run / rest day weekend routine.
Myth: Stretch alone is enough
I know I harp a lot on stretching, but this is a great point to consider as well. I’ve started foam rolling and using a small hand help massager on my legs several times a week. This has made a big difference in the knee pain I’ve experienced lately. Loosening up the muscles that connect all those lower body parts allows my knees to move more freely, to handle the impact more efficiently, and helps prevent inflammation.
Running is a high impact exercise which causes two and a half times your bodyweight to crash into the ground. The impact is absorbed by our muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, fascia, etc. These soft tissues can only take the shock when there is an adequate range of motion available at the joint being impacted. In other words, if your joints can’t move freely, the impact can cause injury.
Action Plan: Stretch, roll, & move. Stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings, IT Band, and back. Our 7 Key Stretches for Runners are the perfect combination to hit all these important muscles. Roll your legs, butt, and back. Start with your calves and work your way up. Hit your IT Band (outside of your knee), move up to your quads and hamstrings, then keep moving up over your butt and to your back. It hurts…but once you get used to it…it hurts so good.
Myth: Recovery is as simple as taking a day off.
The term “recovery” is often confused withrest, taking complete time off of from movement or activity. While it is important to have “off” days, active recovery plays a key role in maintaining a healthy and effective running game. Scheduled rest days are great, but true healing, nourishment, and recovery actually come from movement, not rest alone. Your muscles work super hard to keep you pounding the pavement and if these intense muscular contractions are not properly balanced with a solid, restorative routine, possible injury becomes probably injury, and you’re in for sore and stiff muscles days after your long run.
Action Plan: In addition to stretching and rolling…you gotta move. Active recovery is less intense and has less volume so plan a short, easy recovery run the day after your long run. When I say short, I mean short. 30-40 minutes tops. And EASY…no sprinting, no technical trails, no watching your mile times. Just go and shake out and loosen up your muscles. If you don’t want to run, cross train…but keep it short and easy as well. Go for an easy bike ride, go swimming, take a nice brisk walk, go to a yoga class or check out our Yoga for Runners. This active recovery will go a long way in helping you walk pain free in the coming days and will keep your head in the right place for your next long run.
What will your active rest day look like? Remember that you can switch up these days to make it work for your lifestyle and schedule but if you go long on Sunday…make Monday an active recovery day. Don’t just go to work and sit down all day. Make time in the morning to get moving before you start the rest of your day.
Day 13 exercises: Long Run + 7 Key Stretches for Runners + High Plank Knee to Opposite Elbow
Plank Challenge Day 13 – High Plank Knee to Opposite Elbow
Day 14 exercises: Active Recovery + 7 Key Stretches for Runners or Yoga for Runners + Low Plank Knee to Same Side Elbow (Calendar has incorrect plank. Watch how to do the correct plank below)
Plank Challenge Day 14 – Low Plank Knee to Same Side Elbow
Bonus: Ab & Squat Challenge – Day 13
- 5 Sit Ups
- 5 Crunches
- 5 Squats
Ab & Squat Challenge – Day 14
- 10 Sit Ups
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Squats
If you’re thinking about skipping your long run or giving up before you’re done….remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift we take for granted….and run harder for them. They would do it for you.