5 Keys to Better Running Form

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5 Keys to Better Running Form

Contributor: Greg McMillan     Category: Form

I’m going to start by stating categorically that there is no one best running form. Runners come in so many different shapes, sizes and proportions that it’s simply illogical that one running form, like one training plan, would work for all runners.

That said, there are a few keys to improving your form, which should help you stay injury-free, perform better and at the least, look better in those race photos!

1) Posture

The same posture that’s good in your everyday life is good for your running. Remember when your mother frequently told you to sit up straight? Well, if I’m working with you on our form, you’ll hear me telling you to “run tall.” This cue, run tall, helps get you in an upright, non-slouching posture, which is best for running. As McMillan Coach and resident Olympian Andrew “Lemon” Lemoncello shows in the photo below, head above shoulders, shoulders above hips, hips above knees and ankles. Modern life encourages us to slouch so fight that in running and run tall. Your mom would be proud.

LemonPosture1

2) Arm swing

When running, your arms should be bent at roughly 90 degrees (slightly more or less is also okay). Your hands should be lightly clasped and when your arm swings, your hands should brush between your lowest rib and your waistband. The swinging action itself is front to back and relaxed. Any abnormal swinging (crossing the body, elbows wide, shoulders high) will have consequences in your mechanics. Race photos often illuminate any arm swing issues and you can have someone video you while running from the front and back to evaluate your arm action. Again, as Lemon demonstrates, imagine there is a box or picture frame from your shoulders to your hips. Your arm swing should be within this box and your hands should not cross the midline of the body. Don’t be rigid but just make sure your arms stay within the box.

LemonArmSwing2

3) Foot plant

There is a lot of chatter about foot plant. In my opinion, it matters less whether you land toward the front of the foot or the rear. What matters most is that you land under your body (or at least close to under the body). Overstriding is more of an issue than where you land on your foot. Runners can overstride with a forefoot plant as well as a heel plant. The key is to focus on landing under you and pushing behind you. (In the photo below, note that Lemon isn’t reaching out but is landing under his body.) I find if runners think not about reaching out in front to go faster but instead think about pushing harder down and behind, they cure their overstriding. Again, have someone video you from the side while you are running and you’ll see if you are landing far in front of your body (overstriding) or nearly under your body (correct landing).

LemonFootstrike3

4) Cadence

A few years ago, researchers suggested a cadence (or stride frequency) of 180 steps per minute was optimal. I would suggest anything from 170-190 works depending on the runner. If you look at most runners, regardless of speed, that look really good, they usually have around this cadence.

You can count your steps in one minute to get your cadence or most GPS monitors now do this for you as well. If you do find you need to increase your cadence, just make sure you aren’t sacrificing stride length by shortening your stride too much. Understriding to achieve an optimal cadence will slow you down. We want an optimal stride rate (cadence) and an optimal stride length. They both go together to create our speed.

5) Rhythm

Running is like dancing and the runners who look the best, again regardless of speed, are the ones that have great rhythm when they run. There is a certain flow to their stride. They are relaxed and rhythmic. Think of this when you run. We like to say, “Run tall. Run relaxed.” This simple cue usually cures most form issues and results in a great running rhythm.

Click to watch a video of Lemon running. Visualize this on your next few runs to help you improve your form.

In closing, I like that we all have our unique running forms. I like that I can spot my training partners from a mile away just by their stride. Few runners need a complete overhaul in their stride. Stick with your signature stride but just make sure you adhere to these 5 keys to good form since bad habits can easily creep into our running form.

Learn more about our Form Drills for Distance Runners follow-along routine to improve your form and even prepare you for workouts and races.

Original post at mcmillanrunning.com

The Benefits of Regular Stretching and Strength Training

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The Benefits of Regular Stretching and Strength Training

Contributor: Bryan Heiderscheit     Category: Running Form, Training

I often hear from runners that they avoid regularly stretching or strength training because they’d rather spend the time running. Who wouldn’t? Once daily work, family and general life demands are completed, there are only a few precious minutes left to exercise. What better way to use that time than lacing up the shoes and hitting the road. While this approach can lead to short term satisfaction, it jeopardizes long term success.

It’s important to make sure that your body can tolerate the demands that running will place on it. This means that you shouldn’t ignore those tight hip flexor muscles or weak calf muscles unless you’re willing to face the consequences of injury and time away from running. While it’s seemingly impossible to prevent all running-related injuries, regular stretching and strengthening exercises to key areas can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

Here are 5 exercises to target common areas of need that won’t require a gym membership or an extra hour in your day.

Hip Flexor Stretch

This stretch can be done anywhere (such as waiting in line for your morning coffee) and will help alleviate knee, hip and low back pain. Stand as shown with the front foot a step length ahead of the back foot. Keeping both feet pointed straight ahead, shift your weight forward toward the front foot by bending your knee. Keeping your back knee straight, squeeze your glutes and perform a posterior pelvic tilt (i.e., tuck your tail) without moving your back. You should feel the stretch in front of your hip in the back leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and do this stretch frequently throughout the day.

Heel Raises

Although the calf muscles are a primary running muscle, regular running is not enough to prevent age-associated weakness and changes in elasticity. Those of you over the age of 35 that have experienced a calf strain, Achilles tendinopathy or plantar fasciitis can attest to this. Ending each run with  single-leg heel raises off of a step can help reduce injury risk and maintain calf muscle power production necessary to run well. Each repetition should be done quickly, completing the full up-and-down movement within 1 second. Start with 20 on each side and build up to 40-60.

Hamstring Strengthening on Ball

While its purpose is self-explanatory, this exercise can be quite challenging.. This exercise will not only target the hamstring muscles, but can be very demanding to your core muscles. Start by lying on your back on the floor with your knees straight and lower legs placed on a physioball. Your arms should be on the floor slightly out from your sides. Lift your hips off the floor about 6” (bridge) and hold; do not let your legs roll off the ball. While holding the bridge position, pull the ball closer to your hips by bending your knees then return the ball back to the starting position. Repeat 15 times, keeping the bridge position throughout. To make it more challenging, you can cross your arms over your chest, do with only one leg on the ball, or a combination of both.

3-point Hurdles

Hip mobility is a common area of concern for runners, especially when considering the hours spent sitting during the day. The key to this exercise is moving your hip through its full motion while keeping your back and pelvis stable by contracting your core muscles. Start with your forearms and knees on the floor, and then lift one knee off the floor by pushing down with your toes. By keeping the knee off the floor, the hip muscles on this side are also challenged. Next, lift the opposite leg entirely off the floor and simulate the circular motion of moving it over a hurdle. Perform the circular motion 15-20 times, keeping the opposite knee off the floor throughout. Switch legs and repeat.

Leg Pendulums

This is a great exercise to do right before and after a run to loosen up the hip muscles. Begin by standing tall and holding on to a stationary object (e.g., railing or wall) for balance. Shift all your weight onto one foot so the other leg can swing free of the ground. Keeping the unweighted leg relaxed, move your pelvis side-to-side in a rhythm so the leg swings with long pendulum arcs. The leg should swing across your body then out to the side, and then across again. This swing direction nicely stretches the muscles of your outer hip and inner thigh. Repeat 15 times with each leg.

This pendulum motion can also be done with your swing leg moving forward and backward to stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors.

Improved strength and flexibility will become obvious after a brief period of consistently doing the above exercises. The next step is to ensure that you are taking advantage of these gains by using good running form. This includes such things as keeping your pelvis level, not over-striding and avoiding too much up and down movement of your body’s center of mass. Building strength and flexibility is an important part of running with good form, and will keep you out on the roads and trails enjoying the sport you love.

 

 

 

Strength Training Circuit for Runners (by Runners)

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Strength Training Exercises for Runners (by Runners)

Category: Running Form,  Training

A lot of runners have tight hip flexors with weak glutes and a weak core, likely from sitting all day. This pattern often causes runners to use the wrong muscles during their runs. The glutes are the powerhouse muscles of the body and should be used during explosive exercise such as running. When the glutes are working properly the load placed on the other lower extremity soft tissue (calf, hamstrings, IT band) is reduced.  Here are some exercises to help improve some of the common weakness runner’s experience.

Circuit program (2 days/week)

Multiplanar lunge – Forward, Lateral and Reverse Lunge

Forward Lunge – Helps reduce tight hip flexors as well as the back leg is stretching the hip flexor.

Lateral – Recruits the abductors and hip-stabilizing muscles need to stabilize your hip and pelvic region during your run.

Reverse Lunge – A great one for runners as it requires more hip extension which is often lacking for runners. Having to extend the hip during push off while requiring more balance requires activation of the glutes – a neuromuscular pattern we are hoping for during your runs.

Do 2-5 reps in 1-2 sets working up to 10 reps of 3 sets over time

Curtsy Lunge

For this one, you are working in the sagittal (side) and frontal planes at the same time. This will help you learn how to stabilize during a powerful movement.

Do 5-10 reps in 1-2 sets working up to 15 reps of 3 sets over time

Lateral walks

This exercise strengthens the gluteal muscles needed during running. Place a resistance band around your ankles, squat down with your knees behind your toes.

Do 2 x 20 meters working up to 4 x 40 meters

Double or Single Leg Squat

Once you are able to do 10 double leg squats with proper form (no weight), move on to single leg squats. After all, running is a single-leg exercise as both feet are never on the ground at the same time. Make sure you have proper form before increasing your reps. Remember you are trying to develop proper muscle recruitment along with improving your strength.

Do 5-10 reps in 1-2 sets working up to 15 reps of 3 sets over time

Single-Leg Deadlift

A necessary exercise for sitting runners! This exercise gets at your glute and hamstring strength and teaches your body how to recruit these muscles under load. This is one of the best exercises for runners who have office jobs.

Do 5-10 reps in 1-2 sets working up to 15 reps of 3 sets over time

Clam Shells for Drop Glute Medius

Focusing on strengthening the gluteus medius these exercises were shown to be one of the best hip strengthening exercises. This is an easy one to cheat on so place your thumb on the side of your butt muscles and make sure you feel a contraction of the muscle. Adding a resistance band when it starts to get too easy will help you to continue to strengthen this muscle.

Do 5-10 reps in 1-2 sets working up to 15 reps of 3 sets over time

Push-up

Arm swing is an import element of your running technique. Although you want to reserve your arm pumping for late in the run, you want to ensure you have it, especially for the more explosive races at high paces such as a 5K.

Do 10- 20 push-ups working up 50 push-ups over time

Marching Bridge

Glutes, Glutes, Glutes – the power house muscles for running. This exercises ensures that you are targeting them and work directly on strengthening them.

Hold for 30 seconds working up to 2 mins over time

Plank

In order to have proper mobility of your legs, you need adequate stability of your pelvis and trunk. This means that you have something to push against (along with the ground) as you move forward over the ground. Planks have been shown to be one of the best core exercises. You can increase your difficulty with planks by lifting a leg or an arm or eventually both. Just make sure you are maintaining good form when you increase your difficulty level. 

Hold for 30 seconds working up to 2 mins over time

Additional Resources:

Mark Allen’s 12 Best Strength Exercises, Mark Allen – http://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/mark-allen-s-12-best-strength-exercises

The 5 Best Exercises to Strength Your Hip Muscles and Prevent Injury, John Davis – http://runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/the-top-5-hip-strengthening-exercises-for-runners-to-prevent-injury-and-improve-hip-drive/

The Strength Moves that Every Runners Should be doing, Jason Fitzgerald (May, 2015) – http://greatist.com/move/strength-workout-for-runners

The Whole Body Fix, Katie McDonald Neitz (Feb, 2014) – http://www.runnersworld.com/print/injury-prevention-recovery/the-whole-body-fix

 

 

 

Why Is the Pelvis Important?

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Why is the Pelvis Important?

Category: Running Form

When you think of running form and improving performance and efficiency, historically the focus has been on foot strikes: forefoot, mid-foot, or the controversial heel-strikes. There have been many studies and debates around the what is the best way to land on your foot, and how “we’re all doing it wrong” in terms of preventing injuries, running faster, etc.

What often gets overlooked, though, is our pelvic stability while running. So much of our focus pours into where and how we’re landing on our feet, that we’re forgetting that a lot of what drives running happens above the knee, at the core of our bodies.

Our core, specifically our pelvis, is the starting point of all movements so it makes sense – both from an injury prevention standpoint and an enhancing performance standpoint – to pay more attention to our pelvic movement as we run. Physical therapist and coach, David McHenry explains:

The foot is really just the end of a big kinetic whip–the leg. Core and hips are where every runner should be starting if they are really concerned with optimizing their form, maximizing their speed and minimizing injury potential.

Additional Resources

It’s all in the Hips, Runner’s World – http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/its-all-in-the-hips
Good Running Form Starts with Balance, Alignment, Sage Rountree (October 2013) Competitor – http://running.competitor.com/2013/10/training/good-running-form-starts-with-balance-alignment_9720

 

 

The Right Way To Change Your Form

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The Right Way to Change your Form

Category: Running Form

An important principle is to gradually ease into your new mechanics and eventually finish with a maintenance program that involves less coaching time. The second thing, of equal importance, is to ensure that your body has an adequate foundation of  stability (strength) and mobility (flexibility/range of motion) to effectively begin training your body to move in a more efficient way. For example you need a stable foot and pelvis to push off and a mobile ankle and hip to allow the leg to swing correctly through the gait cycle.

Changing your form takes time since you are changing the demands of your body. You need to ensure you have enough strength in the muscles that you need for your new form, you need to teach your brain to recruit these muscles and you need to learn to do it all while running. Therefore, it is best to change your form before or after a training program (e.g a 12 week half marathon training program) rather than during your training. Training already puts a large demand on your body so increasing that demand can lead to too much stress on your body. It is possible to retrain your body to run with efficient form during your race training but it needs to be done very gradual.

Running Form modifications are a topic that has gained a lot traction over the last few years. Most of the conversation revolves around changing your foot strike pattern or transitioning to be a barefoot runner. The barefoot training programs suggest starting off gradual by only running 1 mile or so in the beginning and then increasing your distance slowly over a few weeks. This should also be considered when changing an aspect of your form. Changing your form will always feel bad before it feels good. Think of how you feel when you increase your pace, you have pushed your body out of your comfort zone but eventually your body adapts. The great thing is the basic principles of these progressive programs are the fundamental principles remain true for most gait training.

Here is an adaptation of Dr. Davis’s advice via barefoot running tips and training with respect to the pelvis:

Build up slowly!
If you vigorously work out any weak muscles in your body, they will be sore and stiff. So please, don’t overdo it doing too much too soon often results in injury.  

  • Start by thinking about your cues during walking frequently. (i.e try to contract your abs during walking).
  • First week: no more than a quarter mile to one mile every other day. As mentioned above change puts stress on your body so it’s best to introduce a form change when the intensity of your planned run is not an exhaustive effort.
  • Increase your distance by no more than 10% per week. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a general guide. If your muscles remain sore, avoid increasing your training. Take an extra day off or maintain your form focused distance for another week.
  • Stop and let your body heal if you experience pain. Sore, tired muscles are normal, but bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury. See a medical professional if it persists.
  • Be patient and build gradually.  Remember that recommendations like a 10% weekly increase are good to use to guide your starting point, but ultimately,  your body and how it feels is the best guide when it comes to making a change with your form.  If  you develop a lingering soreness your body is telling you that this change is stressful and it needs some extra time to adapt and get stronger.  Allow your body time to get stronger as pushing through high levels of soreness and fatigue too often won’t properly allow your body to become stronger and more efficient.  So the key message is use guidelines to determine your starting point, but trust your body’s feedback to maximize the process of positively and permanently optimizing your form and don’t hesitate to progress at a more gradual rate.

Dr. Carey Rothschild has also published on the topic. Below is an adaptation to her barefoot progression plan (3) summary table of her suggestions.

This one can be adapted as follows:

Table 2: Sample of running form progression program

Week 1 – 4        preparatory exercises: 2-3 times per week. Be mindful of creating a neutral pelvis while walking for 30 minutes daily.
Week 5-6 running ¼ mile -1 mile: 2-3 times per week. On a surface such as a grassy field or rubberized track.
Week 7-8 increase by 10% to ⅓ – 1 ¼ miles:  2-3 times per week. On a surface such as a grassy field or rubberized track.
Week 9 +  increase by additional 10% to ½  – 1 ½  miles:  2-3 times per week. Progress to smooth paved surfaces as desired.
  • Do not progress mileage if soreness persists.

Resources:

  1. Willy, R.W., Scholz, J.P., Davis, I.S. (2012). Mirror gait retraining for the treatment of patellofemoral pain in female runners. Clinical biomechanics. 27(10):1045-51. 
  2. Noehren, B.; Scholz, J.; Davis, I. (2010)The effect of real-time gait retraining on hip kinematics, pain and function in subjects with patellofemoral pain syndrome. British Journal of Sports Medicine 45 (9): 691-696.
  3. Rothschild, C (2012). Running Barefoot or in Minimalist Shoes: Evidence or Conjecture? Strength and Conditioning Journal 34(2): 8-17.
  4. The Proactive Athlete (2012). Barefoot Running Part 2 (Lessons from a course with Irene Davis) – http://www.theproactiveathlete.ca/blog/barefoot-running-part-2-lessons-from-a-course-with-irene-davis/

 

 

 

The Importance of Running Form

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Why is Focusing on your Running Form Important?

Category: Running Form

Car Analogy

Running with bad running form is similar to driving with a car with poor alignment. Over time, driving a car with poor alignment will wear down aspects of the car before its time, like its tires. You are also wasting fuel as poor alignment makes the car inefficient. Similarly if you are running with bad form you are wearing down aspects of your body too early, for example your knees. You are also changing the alignment of primary muscles, such as your hamstring, which makes them have to work harder to get the job done. Lastly, similar to the wasted fuel in your car, you are also not using your fuel, your nutrition and hydration, as efficiently as possible.

Bad form makes all those miles that you worked so hard on tougher and more exhausting, while increasing your risk for injury.

How it can reduce your susceptibility of developing injury?

Although it is true that there is no ideal running form for all runners, there is certainly bad form or red flags that are well respected by sports medicine clinicians, coaches and athletes.

Some classic red flags are:

  1. Pelvis instability that can cause excessive dropping and rotation of the pelvis increasing the stress at the knee.
  2. Running with weak core muscles causing your pelvis to tilt forwards or backwards, which changes the alignment of your muscles.
  3. Over striding, where your foot lands out in-front of your body, increasing the load on your leg bones.
  4. A low cadence, steps per minute, which increases the time your foot is in contact with the ground.
  5. Excessive pronation that can cause the knee to collapse similarly to an unstable pelvis.
  6. Excessive arm swing that is inefficient and can cause undesired rotations of the pelvis.
  7. Increase bounce of your center of mass as you move over the ground, which is inefficient since you are trying to run forward not up and down.
  8. High shock that can often be heard when the runner contacts the ground

How it can make you more efficient and increase performance?

A runner’s performance is often measured by their running economy, which is the energy demand needed at a given velocity. Again, think of your car, this would be comparable to the car’s fuel economy. Running economy is affected by aspects of your body and the environment, such as the heat, body weight, altitude, elements of your cardiovascular system and your form. Many runners put a lot of time and energy into these others aspects of their running, such as their endurance training, their nutrition and hydration, their racing weight, mental strategies but neglect their form. Treating form as an important part of your performance will make you a much more efficient runner.

For example, if you have an unstable pelvis with excessive pelvic drop or rotation, you are wasting energy as you are not able to push off a solid platform. Imagine trying to do a push up and the ground buckling below you, this would take a lot more energy than doing a push up on solid floor.

 

 

 

3 Visualization Techniques to Fix Your Form

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3 Visualization Techniques to Fix Your Form

Contributor: Matt Fitzgerald     Category: Running Form

A few years ago, German researchers conducted an interesting study that looked at the effects of people’s thoughts as they ran. Volunteers were asked to run on a treadmill at a constant speed while focusing their attention on either their body movements, their breathing, or the external environment. The test was repeated three times with the focus of attention changing in random order until all of the volunteers had completed the test in all three conditions.

While the subjects ran, they breathed into a mask that measured their oxygen consumption. The researchers found that the subjects consumed more oxygen at the same speed when their attention was focused on their bodies than in either of the other two conditions. They consumed the least oxygen when thinking about the external environment. In other words, they ran most economically when their attention was externally focused and less economically when it was internally focused.

These findings are consistent with a large body of reach in the field of human biomechanics, which has shown that people learn motor skills faster when they think about key parts of their surrounding environment instead of the movements of their bodies. For example, in one study, novice golfers improved their putting accuracy significantly more when they were instructed to focus on the club head than when they were told to focus on their hands.

Many running coaches teach runners to concentrate on and control specific elements of their body’s movement as they run. The research I’ve just discussed suggests that this is a bad idea, and sure enough, studies have shown that when runners consciously modify their stride in any way they become less economical.

Does this mean that you should never think about your form when you run? Not quite. Many running injuries are caused in part by correctable abnormalities in stride mechanics. Addressing these form flaws is proven to reduce injury risk. Using mental images can help you in this process. But some images are better than others.

As a coach, I assist runners in correcting form flaws not by telling them how to run—which would turn their attentional focus inward and make them less efficient—but by giving them specific mental images that keep their attention externally focused and allow them to change their biomechanics in a more natural way. Here are three form-fixing mental images to try:

Knee Axle

Among the most important running muscles are the hip abductors and hip external rotators on the outside of your hip and backside. These muscles keep your pelvis stable when your foot hits the ground. Many runners don’t activate these muscles properly, which causes the pelvis to tilt laterally, putting strain on the hips and knees and leading to injury.

To activate your pelvic stabilizers during running without turning your attentional focus inward, imagine there’s a short axle between your knees pushing them apart just a little. As with all mental images, don’t exaggerate this one. Creating even an extra centimeter of separation between your knees will serve the purpose of engaging the targeted muscles and may keep you healthier.

Running On Rails

Another common form flaw that leads to injury is internal rotation of the thigh (or knock knees), which is caused by weakness in the hip muscles. Bu strengthening these muscles will not correct the problem on its own. You also need to change your gait.

To effect this change without an internal attentional focus, imagine you’re running on a pair of rails like railroad tracks. Try to make your feet line up perfectly with the rails when they land, with your big toe pointing straight ahead. You may need to subtly rotate your thigh externally to achieve this foot alignment.

Running Quietly

The reason that overuse injuries are more common in running than in other endurance sports is that running is a high-impact activity. Some runners land harder than others, and runners who land harder get injured more often.

To reduce your impact forces during running while keeping your attentional focus externalized, listen to the sound your feet make when they land on the ground.  Now try to run more quietly. Don’t think about changing your stride in any particular way to make it quieter. Just focus on the sound itself and let the mechanics of your stride take care of themselves.

 

 

 

This Is What’s Missing From Your Training

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This Is What’s Missing From Your Training

Contributor: Juli Benson     Category: Training, Running Form

A fundamental and consistent element in our training is what I refer to as “athletic days”. Distance runners spend the majority of their training in the same plane of movement, using the same muscle groups day in and day out. I believe it is crucial for an athletes’ development and health to periodically remind themselves (and their muscles) that the better overall athlete he/she is, the faster he or she will run. Without sacrificing volume or aerobic training, we have designated Monday as our “athletic days”. This is a day where the athletes will spend upwards of 60 minutes after an easy recovery or training run working on coordination, agility, flexibility, acceleration, and power.

On a given “athletic day”, an athlete will complete a normal recovery/training run and begin with dynamic stretching/ strengthening through various 30” hurdle walks. The athlete will then transition through a series of plyometric drills using 18 inch speed/agility hurdles, which will be executed in several movement planes always beginning in an “athletic stance”.  Finally, the athletes will end with sprint technique drills as well as shorter, quicker sprints ranging from 40-200m.  Incorporating dynamic and explosive training consistently to a distance runner’s weekly routine will improve coordination, agility, acceleration, and general core strength. Additionally, as an athlete gains strength and power, he will better be able to maintain good form and posture while fatiguing for improved performance as well as injury prevention.


Case study: Cameron Marantz

Cameron approached me for some individual coaching in August of 2015. At that time, Cam’s personal bests were 14:06 for 5000m and 28:57 for 10,000m.  We agreed to work together in order to pursue his potential. Our start was very, very slow as Cam was suffering from an injury and seemed to continually take one step forward and two steps back. As I came to know Cam as an athlete, it was very clear to me that Cam’s aerobic background was very sound but many of the “little” things important for recovery as well as injury prevention were non-existent. We incorporated 4 key elements to his routine and were able to consistently build volume and quality over the next 10 months.

  • An active/isolated stretch routine:
    • Promotes blood flow before morning run
    •  Promotes flexibility
    •  Increases range of motion

With help from a reputable massage therapist, Cam integrated a dynamic morning stretch routine to his schedule. Many of Cam’s injuries pointed to his very limited range of motion and over time, the dynamic stretch routine not only increased his range of motion but also improved the efficiency of his stride.

  • A weekly “athletic” day:
    • Improves coordination, agility, quickness, acceleration, and general core strength
    • Improves over all athleticism
    • Improves ground contact time
    • Increases top-end speed
    • Promotes injury prevention

Along with his dynamic stretching routine, Cam also uses yoga to both aid in flexibility as well as recovery rotating 3 different routines that focus on hamstrings/lower back, the psoas muscle, and the IT band. We believe yoga is one tool that has allowed Cam quicker recovery in between hard sessions. This has been key to maintaining health as we increased his training throughout this year.

  • Yoga:
    • Quickens recovery
    • Promotes basic flexibility for improved range of motion
    • Promotes blood flow
    • Improves core strength and breathing patterns

Core and balance are quickly becoming a staple for most distance runners. Cam was very consistent with his core and balance routine in 2016 completing his routine 3-4 times weekly. Optimal core strength as well as constantly working to improve right side/left side balance help to optimize gait and aids in preventing form breakdown, a problem for Cam in the past.

  • Core/Balance:
    • Improving core strength
    • Improving balance

In 2015, Cam improved his personal bests on the track and the roads. However, his improvement came at a cost and Cam rarely felt healthy and had several interruptions to his training due to injury. By incorporating the athletic days, Cam was able to experience uninterrupted training for all of 2016.

As a coach of distance runners, I believe that increasing the volume of running while injecting the correct amount of intensity is key to performance enhancement. However, neither of these things are possible if the athlete cannot stay healthy. I am a firm believer that the supplemental training we have added to Cam’s routine without sacrificing volume has allowed us to increase the quality of Cam’s training. This recipe has resulted in an outstanding 2016 thus far for Cameron as he has obtained new and improved personal bests of 13:34 for 5000m and 28:38 for 10000m.