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The Running Man

Whether it ’s short, productive sprints or a medium to long-distance jog, MAXIM fitness guru ALEXA TOWERSEY tells you why running doesn ’t have to suck…

When I quit the drink, I turned to Half Ironman Training to give me something else to focus on. Essentially, I replaced one addiction with another initially, but it did the job. However, I still remember the first Charles Poliquin nutrition conference I ever went to where he called me out for it. In his mind, running was not conducive to being strong – and his first question to me was, “So, what are you running away from?” Turns out I was trying to run away from my boyfriend, but hey, that’s a whole other story.

Aerobic training – long distance running and jogging in particular – exploded in popularity from the ’60s to the ’80s, only to be demonised in the ’90s up to today. I mean, who needs to run a half marathon or engage in any sustained, endurance-based activities when sprints or short-duration HIIT will give you all the “heart health” and cardiovascular benefits you’ll ever need?

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Smart aerobic work helps burn fat, manage fatigue and improves capillary density. And as far as the hierarchy of things you need to do for survival goes, running is right smack bang at the top of the list – next to keeping your heart beating at all times. Depending on the type and duration of your run, there are a host of other benefits including:

  • Increased growth hormone and testosterone production
  • Increased leg strength
  • Increased coordination
  • Increased bone and soft tissue integrity
  • Injury prevention

THE DIFFERENT DISTANCES AND THEIR BENEFITS

Super Short: 10-40 metre

Use this distance primarily for increased in leg strength, power, and hormone production. Repeat up to 10 times with full recovery in-between, twice per week.

TOP TIP: Add in shuttle runs for athletic development and injury prevention

One of the reasons we get so many knee and ankle injuries is that we don’t practice simple athletic movements in a controlled environment before going full-bore into an athletic competition. Learning to change direction with speed and power in training can save lots of people from experiencing these injuries. Include forwards/backwards and lateral movements.

Short: 40-100m

This is an extension of the super short distance, which can be used for repeats to improve conditioning, or for building muscular endurance in the legs. Add in a hill and you get all the benefits of sprinting with the bonus of more load and less stress on the deceleration phase (where most people pull muscles and get injured). Repeat 8-10 times with near full recovery.

Medium: 100-800m

This distance is an anaerobic nightmare. It will challenge your mental toughness, your legs, and your guts to not spill out of you. It has similar benefits to the shorter distances listed above but it emphasises conditioning and anaerobic endurance over power and strength. Repeat 6-8 times with 90 secs – 2 mins rest.

Long: 30+ mins @65-70% MHR

Think of this as your foundation. The bigger a base you have when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and strength endurance, the more you can build on top of it. The fitter you are, the better you can hit the high intensities when required. Slow and steady 2-3 x week on recovery days or AFTER a strength based session is sufficient for most people.

THE WORKOUT THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING

Let’s be honest – one of the real reasons you’re not running, bro science and loss of gains aside, is that you probably suck at it. Most people do. Running efficiently is every bit as much a learned skill as anything we do in the weights room. When you think of running the last thing you think of is training the upper body. However, if you’re hunched over with the typical rounded shoulder posture seen in many desk jockeys, chances are you will be compressing your diaphragm whilst you’re running. This is very inefficient and will cause you to tire much more quickly.

You want to be able to run fast or far while expending as little energy as possible, so being able to use your arms, back and shoulders to help balance, support and propel you forward during your stride, will help you be more efficient with your breathing and take some of the load and burden off your lower body.

SAMPLE UPPER BODY RUNNING FOCUSED SESSION
Complete 1-2 x per week

10 x Standing Shoulder Dislocates (pole, stick or band)

10 x DB Front Raise

10 x DB Lateral Raise

10 x Bent Over Reverse Flye

3 x rounds

30 secs DB Push Press.

30 secs Overhold Hold.

2 x rounds. Rest 2 mins. Repeat (for a total of 4 mins work)

NB. Don’t be a hero with the weights here. I’ve seen grown men brought to tears by 3-5kg if “good form” is applied

4 x 8 Barbell Bent Over Row (1-2 sec pause at the top of the movement)

45 – 60 secs rest between

5 x Turkish Get Up

30 secs Straight Arm Plank

30 secs Mountain Climber

3 x rounsds

For the full article grab the March 2020 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.

What do you think?

Emma Jane Stevens