How to run stronger for longer and keep on running!
We were born to run – it’s that simple if you look way back in evolution, we ran to find food we ran to avoid being food we ran to find a mate then we ran away with each other! Man was born to run.
Running was our first weapon, it allowed us to persistence hunt for game, so we could track it down over hours of pursuit until it became exhausted and we could catch and kill it. The San people of the Kalahari desert still used this method until the early 2000’s.
Our anatomy gave us our fist weapon we were born to run
The Natural foot is wide, flexible and sensory. It has 200,000 nerve endings. And is a sensory organ for a reason. 70% of our brain’s movement information comes from our feet (10% eyes, 20% inner ears).
The part of the brain that gets information from the feet is the same size as the part of the brain that gets information from the hands.
Take away this feedback and the it gets confused, resulting in un-skillful movement that can lead to pain.
The fascial system covers the whole body and if it is restricted through dehydration, scar tissue or adhesions it can create a lot of tension which feels like you are running with the breaks on it can also wind up muscle tissues to become tight and cause further bio-mechancical problems.
Muscle do not work independently to each other they work in chains or slings, when we run, we rely on the slings to get our bodies moving and keep us moving. If you are gym training like a bodybuilder isolating muscles, it is not as effective as training the sling systems. The sling system also applies to keeping the muscles and fascia free from restrictions and knots as they can affect the whole sling.
The sling system comes alive using gravity as elastic energy to bounce you along with amazing efficiency… Running is only 30-50% more costly than walking – at endurance pace. Extremely efficient when done properly.
So if you want to run and run well, you must take care of the whole body and its interdependent systems. Let me show you 12 standards in which you can achieve this.
A Runner’s mind set
If you want to keep on running it is essential to have the correct mindset or you may well run yourself into the ground. Runners are obsessed with task completion – the plan says run 10 miles today, so whatever the health / energy state of the person off they go regardless, because the plan says! This is a sure fire way to ruin your body in the quickest time possible. Completing junk miles if you haven’t properly recovered from the previous training session may wind up the tension in the muscles and fascial system, flare up hot spots causing injuries and ruin your technique meaning you will have to have time not running to allow repair.
Cut out the junk miles only run when it is right for you and your body to do so, only run with good technique, if you need to stop and walk so what! Don’t fall into the trap of dragging your arse round with poor form and destroying your body at the same time. Better to finish injury free having maintained good technique all the way round. It will prove invaluable in the long term.
You also have to manage yourself effectively when not running;
- Eating a diet that balances your macronutrient ratios, that’s your carbs, fats and proteins.
- Get a good nights sleep the body physically repairs itself from 10pm-2am
- Hydration – drink good quality water 0.03 x your body weight in kg eg: 90kg = 3 litres
- Time out to relax – don’t be so busy all the time, have a whole day off from your busy life and be a human being not a human doing.
The Twelve standards to Keep on Running
If your feet aren’t in neutral your bio-mechanics won’t be working effectively and it’s highly likely you will have some issue going forwards.
Ideally, we want to utilize the inbuilt spring system that we have in our feet through our arches and achilles tendons. When we run with a heel strike first (only possible when wearing modern shoes) it negates this system and is less efficient. Running on the fore foot allows for the spring system to come into action. Specific barefoot running shoes will promote a forefoot running technique. Vivo & vibram five fingers are good options, but beware that you have to earn your miles in these shoes start small then gradually increase your mileage over time.
Standard 3 – Supple Thoracic spine
Our running movement does not originate from your legs it originates from the spine and the core musculature. As you can see in the video above a supple thoracic spine is essential for proper bio-mechanics and a smooth running technique. Sitting at a desk all day is the worst position for your spine to be in so if this is you ensure you do enough maintenence work to counteract your environment.
If you do not control your environment, it will control you
Squats are fantastic exercise when done properly – you need flexibility, stability, mobility, strength, core strength throughout the whole body. This translates to improved running performance.
Without proper hip function problems are created lower down the chain with knee and ankle issues.
Without proper ankle function problems are created further up the chain with knee, hip and lower back issues issues.
Prioritise an effective warm up and cool down it is essential to maintain the integrity of the systems that you are using whilst running. If you have 1 hour allocated for a run, then allocate 15 mins of that time for an effective warm up and stretch routine and also the same for cooling down. There is no extra benefit to pushing on for the whole hour, then sitting down straight after.
This is a simple standard to achieve, but highly effective for recovery of the tissues.
Develop a routine for identifying hot spots in the tissues, a good way to achieve this is to do rollering. This will help to find those hot spots of tension in the fascia and muscular systems, think of them like warning lights on your dashboard. If you fail to deal with them effectively, then an injury is never far away. A hot spot in a calf muscle, for example, shown above can cause issues throughout the length of the body through the muscle sling systems or fascia systems as discussed earlier.
Practising jumping either single or double legs helps to organise your bio-mechanics and align your spine whilst promoting athletic performance. Single leg skipping is a great way to warm up and ensure that both legs are evenly balanced.
Christian OHare is an expert in bio-mechanics and has a holistic approach to athletic performance coaching. If you would like a comprehensive bio-mechancial and performance assessment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org