The Running Man and Woman

You all know I am not a fan of long, slow, boring, cardio! However, I will admit that running is an easy way to get your 30 minutes of daily exercise in (and you don’t have to kill yourself either!) Infact it may even save your life!

You can go wherever your 2 feet take you – but make sure you’re running right! What may you ask could I possibly mean by this…..well, here’s how you’ll be running till you’re higher, stronger, faster, and safer!

Warm Up
Don’t be a fool and think you can avoid this! You may have in the past, but why not err on the safe side. Before setting the trails ablaze, why don’t you start off nice and slow by walking for a minute then getting into a nice light jog and repeating this for 5 mintues. Don’t forget you can always do a dynamic warmup like what we do at bootcamp. I’m talking straight leg raises, bodyweight squats, inchworms, and cross crawl, and when you’re done your run grab your H2O and walk it off – don’t just stop cold turkey. Moving around after exercise will prevent venous pooling in your legs and your other muscles will contribute in breaking down lactic acid in your predominant jogging muscles.

Run Relaxed
When you’re pushing as hard as you can, muscles all over your body are contracting in an effort to propel yourself across your personal finish line. But you got to relax, and let air get into those lungs. Focus on nice slow breathing. Breathe in through the nose and mouth – don’t limit yourself to breathing in through the nose as you wont get enough oxygen into your body. Avoid quick shallow breaths, and breathe from the abdomen. Most runners are mouth breathers, as this allows them to get more oxygen in the body, which brings me to my next point:

Relax your shoulders – shake them out if you need to, have your chest out with proper alignment of the body- this allows oxygen to move through the body efficiently, when you are all tense and nervous about running, your muscles are contracting and needing even more oxygen. If you ever watch marathoners or triathletes they always look so comfortable when running. So if you find breathing difficult at a certain pace, slow down and get comfortable and work up to it.
Doing short intervals like we do at bootcamp will improve your breathing and cardiovascular system for longer distance running (if that’s your sort of thing).

Staying loose while running will help prevent you from encountering nagging injuries that are more common when you’re tense. So check yourself out in the mirror and look at what your face looks like relaxed and remember to keep it that way!

Ya he's relaxed

Your Body Knows
Listen to it! Don’t push till collapse. Stop running, when your body tells you! Increase distance gradually. You’ll be able to increase your distance by about 50% every 40 weeks if you take it slow!

Your 10K Goal
Whether it be the Sun Run, The Times Colonist 10k, or The Boston Marathon, you have to train specifically for the race. If your running 8k for a 10k, you’re gonna gas on the last 2 clicks. If you plan on running shorter distances for longer races, you need to pick up your pace and train at a higher threshold. Try increasing your speed and gauging it by how many times your right foot touches the ground in 1 minute. 80 touches is a solid, challenging, and attainable goal.

When running, drive off that big toe, this will help prevent your heels from getting worn out from overtraining, and don’t forget to keep those arms moving in the direction you’re going- don’t have a sway – that’s wasted energy!

Injuries Happen
Bumps in the road happen whether you’re a seasoned vet or a newbie trying to lose 10lbs. So listen to your body if you are feeling the effects of a lingering or chronic pain in the knee and get it sorted out before it stops your running entirely.

In this article I’ll cover one of the most common knee pain injuries: Runner’s Knee

Attention: I am not a physician! The info in this article should not take the place of your qualified medical professional. If you are experiencing pain in your knees (either chronic or acute), visit your doctor before beginning a corrective exercise program.

Runner’s Knee
Can best be described by a pain directly surrounding or under the knee cap – not above the knee cap! Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee occurs when the patella (kneecap) tracks improperly and grinds against the femur (thighbone). The strength and flexibility of the muscles attached to the knee greatly influence the way the kneecap moves during flexion and extension (bending and straightening). When these muscles are imbalanced, patella tracking may occur. The muscles of interest are the quadriceps on the front of your thigh, the hamstrings on the back of your thigh, the IT band, which are fibers on the outside of your leg, and the calves. Runner’s knee is generally attributed with individuals having tight hamstrings, IT band, and calves with weaker quads. This combo causes a twisting of the knee joint during any activity that creates a load at the joint (ie. everytime you run) and this causes the rubbing that is the uncomfortable pain.

How Runner’s Knee Happens

  • Overuse – rapid increase in training intensity (overdoing exercise as a beginner)
  • Improper footwear – wearing flat shoes or running on hard surfaces
  • Tight muscles in the posterior chain – hamstrings, calves
  • Imbalances in the quadriceps – weak Vastus medialis (think front of your leg on the inside)
  • Running downhill – ouch!
  • Long periods of sitting with your knees bent – it happened to me as a student!

Treat Runner’s Knee

  1. Rest – I know it is hard to accept, but you need to take a break. High impact exercises, such as running and jumping need to be reduced so that the inflammation in the kneecap can subside. You can maintain your endurance by doing low impact exercise such as swimming or elliptical – the only time I would condone using an elliptical (although you may even find these exercises bothersome).
  2. Ice – After exercise –  ice, when you feel discomfort – ice. You can put a bare icepack on your skin for a short time (less than 10 minutes to avoid frost bite). Do 10 minutes on 10 minutes off for an hour if you can spare the time.
  3. Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories– Meds such as Advil will also help with pain and swelling. Take as directed, but don’t use them for the sake of it. Let the body heal itself. Reiki is a great alternative that you can try, along with physiotherapy.
  4. Fortify – As stated above, weak quadriceps are a contributing cause to runner’s knee. Typically an imbalance in the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis is the cause. Seated straight leg lifts are a nice, low impact exercise you can do. Try 10 sets of 10 second holds with your foot 6-10 inches off the ground.
  5. Stretch – All the time! Our bodies are becoming so tight, and preventing us from doing even the most basic functions properly like bending over and breathing. If your watching tv-stretch, on the computer-stretch, always sit up straigh, stretch at work too. Tight calves? Stretch those! Tight hamstrings? Stretch those! Tight IT bands? Stretch those!

    IT band stretch - push right leg away from head with hand to increase stretch
  6. Papa’s Got A Brand New Shoe – Sometimes it’s the smallest and most forgotten things like the shoes you wear that are the problem. Check the bottoms of your soles. Is there excessive wear on one side or the other? This could indicate over pronation or supination – a simple pair of orthotics could solve this problem. Check with your physiotherapist or health consultant about this.

Want to feel like you’re running on air? The Bootcamp Effect is coming to White Rock. Our new White Rock bootcamp will be opening October 1st, 2010, and will feature a spring loaded floor to help absorb the impact on your knees when your working out your hardest!

Josh Saunders, BSC, CSCS
The Bootcamp Effect
Serving Langley and White Rock