It's April, and as temperatures drop, it's the perfect time for running in Australia. With running carnivals galore, many Aussies are seeking PBs while others are dusting off the joggers and downloading the Couch to 5K app.
My advice? Don't just run. Admittedly, I'm envious of any runner who maintains an 18+ kilometres per hour pace over two hours and completes a marathon. But their bodies? Most are shorts-and-singlet on top of bones. Here's how to build a better physique (and time) during 2019's running season:
Understand proper form
If you'd ask nine out of 10 runners "Describe your running form?", I'd imagine their reply would be "I don't know; I just run."
Whether you golf, swim, deadlift, or run – there's proper form that breeds efficiency.
The head, shoulders, arms, core, hips, stride, and foot placement are equally important for running efficiency and overall health. It sounds patronising, yet it's so important to say – "re-learn how to run". Your body and finishing time will thank you.
Twice a week.
In researching long-distance running programs, too few include the words strength training days.
Yet scientific results prove that strength training leads to a stronger runner: "a strength training program including low to high intensity resistance exercises and plyometric exercises performed two-three times per week for eight-12 weeks is an appropriate strategy to improve RE [running economy] in highly trained middle- and long-distance runners". Strength training also improved five kilometre race times by nearly four per cent in moderately trained runners who completed six weeks of heavy weight training.
Here are some basic exercises to incorporate into your strength building plan:
- Barbell squats – building powerful legs.
- Push-ups – a must in any training program.
- Kettlebell swings – full-body strength and cardio movement.
- Weighted lunges – hits every muscle in your leg and glutes.
- Planks – a solid core is a must for proper running form over distance.
Train your back
The most painful thing I see in Sydney is office workers who sit slouched over at a computer all day out for a lunch jog pounding the pavement with that same hunched shoulder posture - you can't breathe deeply with a concave chest / shoulders.
So, get in the gym, and tighten the back which effectively opens the chest.
Perform some deadlifts, bent-over rows, and seated rows.
Sacrifice (some) time
Sport specific training is a must if you're looking for a personal best – crossing the finish line takes plenty of running sessions.
But let's be honest.
Your City2Surf or marathon time is about as interesting as my max bench press. So, as you mix in the strength training, perhaps you'll sacrifice a few minutes off the clock, but you'll be building a sound, better looking physique in the process.
After all, it's 2019, one must look aesthetically pleasing in that Instagram "crossing the finish line" pic, right?
Run less, row more
If the knees and joints can't handle the pounding, and the thought of crossing the finish line underweight scares you off, hit the rower. During the 2018 Cross Fit Games Day One, athletes were taken by surprise that the fourth event of the day was a 42,195 metre marathon row.
If I was faced with a 16-week running vs. rowing training plan while keeping in mind fitness and a healthy body composition? I'd hit the rower without a second thought. Rowing is a full-body movement with increased heart rate guaranteeing fitness complemented with a lean, toned body.
Data captured by the top 100 runners over 20-plus years shows that elite runners are shrinking. The average male athlete is 1.70m tall and 56.2kgs – that's stick thin; that's a BMI in the unhealthy range. Aspire (and train) less to win, and more to be that front-middle-of-the-pack-lad / lady that's fit, with sound body composition that's been moulded from distance runs and pushing some weights in the gym. Running, hitting the weights, and resting – it's the right mix for crossing the finish line in healthy style.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.