Warm up and Cool down routine

Warm up

Butt Kicks

Run 10 metres ahead of you with your thighs more or less locked in a neutral position and try to kick yourself in the glute with your heel on each stride. Focus on keeping the rest of your body still and simply flicking your lower leg backward.  Do two or four reps of 15 kicks with each leg.

High Knees

Taking short steps with a very quick cadence, alternate thrusting knees upward until your thigh breaks a plane parallel to the ground. Focus on soft, flat footstrikes near the ball of your foot while using your core to lower your leg down slowly instead of letting it crash to the ground. Do two to four reps of 15 lifts on each knee.

Bounding

On a flat or very slightly downhill slope, alternate thrusting into the air off one leg in an exaggerated skipping motion. The focus should be on a powerful leap into the air and a quick (but not super fast) cadence. Your arm motion should be synced to the opposite leg’s action, holding steady for the brief moment while you’re off the ground. Do three to four reps of 10 leaps on each leg.

Grapevines

Standing upright with your head and torso facing forward, move laterally in one direction by placing your trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Then move the lead leg in that same lateral direction and place the trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Maintain a fluid motion with your arms rotating in the opposite direction from the legs. Do two to four 50-meter reps to the left and right, facing the same direction for each lateral movement.

Slow Skipping

Skip with a moderate leap off of one foot and return to the ground and immediately leap off the other foot, main- taining a compact arm swing as if you were running. This slow-action skipping drill should have a staccato rhythm. Do two or four 50-meter reps.

Running Backwards

Although it will seem awkward at first, try to replicate your forward running motion while moving backward. You’ll still be pushing off of your forefoot and swinging you arms, but you’ll be lunging backward with your hamstrings and using core muscles to stabilize differently than you’re used to while moving forward. Focus on form, not on speed. Do two or four reps of 50 to 100 meters.


Cool Down

Shoulder rotation

Rotate shoulders forwards and back.

Deltoid stretch

 Pull a straight arm across your chest and hug with the other arm.

Triceps stretch

Hold a bent arm by the elbow behind your head.

Quad stretch

Hold your foot against your glute, keeping your knees together and your standing leg soft

Groin stretch

Sit down with the soles of your feet together and push out your knees with your elbows.

Glute stretch

Sit down and place one bent leg over a straight leg and gently hug your bent knee with both arms towards your chest.

Hamstring stretch

One leg in front of the other with a straight knee, hands on bent knee of hips, sit back on support leg with bottom out and back straight, bring the toes up to the nose of the straight leg

Ankle rotation

Stand on one foot, rotate the ankle on the other foot in one direction, then the other.

Week 2 Session and Homework

Warm up followed by the running drills.  Running for 2 mins and 1 minute recovery for 25 mins. If possible try and get out once more, follow the warm up and cool down routine above and run for 2 mins with 1 min recovery, repeat this 3 times then aim for 3 mins run with 1 min recovery for a total of 25 mins.  Focus on running from your ankles and not from your hips and if you feel your shoulders hunching, pull your core in and drop your shoulders down.

How to improve your running technique with and without a buggy

Running is the one sport that people think that they don’t have to worry about technique, running is simple isn’t it, you just put your trainers on and run; if only that was true.  By improving your running technique you can improve as a runner by running more efficiently and subsequently running faster. Poor technique can lead to you becoming tired more easily as you are not running efficiently and this can lead to injury if you have bad form.

As a running coach I do not believe in changing a runner’s running style, we all have our own unique way of running and there is no perfect running form.  However, I do believe that by making the following small adjustments you can become a better runner.

Running with a buggy uses different muscles and there is a different technique needed when running with a buggy.  The main thing and the most important thing in my opinion is think first of the safety of your child and not your run.  You need to be in control of your buggy at all times; if you run one handed with a buggy you are not in control of the buggy and you may put your baby at risk.  Run at an easy pace and it is important that you are running comfortably with the buggy making sure you adjust the handles of the buggy to fit your height.

Posture                    

You should run tall and in the direction that you are travelling in, your shoulders should be relaxed, back and down, try running with your shoulders bunched up to your ears, this should feel uncomfortable and unnatural.  You would soon tire if you continued to run like this over any distance. Relax your shoulders and keep your head high, look ahead of you with your jaw relaxed and your mouth open.  Run from your ankles and not from your hips, imagine that you have a bowl of water in your pelvis; the idea is that you don’t spill the water so keep your hips stable and balanced when running, try not to leak any water out of the bowl.

Arms                         

To see how important arms are when you run  try running 10m with your arms above your head or behind your back. By doing this hopefully you will see how out of control and uncoordinated you may feel and how your arms balance you.  When running with a buggy you are unable to use your arms to drive your legs but you can use them to keep you balanced and upright.  Both hands should be on the buggy and your core should be tight and controlled, just pull the belly button into your back.  Having a strong core enables you to drive your legs up and off the ground and pushing a buggy gives you extra strength and stability as long as you don't run hunched over.

Make sure there is no energy leakage and that you don't collapse when you tire with each step.

Hips   

If you run with high hips this will keep you in the tall upright posture that you should be aiming for, before you run just tuck your tailbone (your bottom) in.  This pushes the hips forward and enables you to run tall.

Foot strike              

There is no right way or wrong way to land on your feet, generally as long as you land underneath your center of gravity and don’t over stride this will help improve your leg turnover, so imagine that you are “popping” off the ground.

Running without a buggy will seem so much easier if you practice the following;

arms

Bend your arms at the elbow, about a 90-degree angle and drive your elbow back, as though you are hammering a nail into a wall.  This stops the arms crossing your body and consequently twisting your torso.  If you run with a strong arm drive your body will look for symmetry therefor your arms should match your legs, and it’s easier to drive our arms back when you are tired than driving the knee up but by doing this, trust me your legs will follow.

Hands           

Your hands do not want to be clenched into a fist, they need to be relaxed; clenching them  wastes too much energy. Imagine that you have a budgie in each hand and you are gently carrying the budgies so that they don’t get squashed, if you clench your fists you will kill the budgies; remember “Don’t kill the budgies!”  In other words, keep your hands relaxed and slightly cupped.

 

 

Week 1 Session and Homework

Warm up followed by running drills.  Running for 2 mins and 1 minute recovery for 25 mins. If possible try and get out once more, follow the warm up and cool down routine and run for 2 mins with 1 min recovery for a total of 20 mins.  Focus on your posture and your technique and if you feel yourself tiring then pull up through your head and shoulders.

When is it time for new trainers?

There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on so many factors, however in my experience one thing is for certain that running or starting running in battered, worn out shoes is the leading cause of running injuries and can be as bad for you as running in shoes that just don’t fit you.

Running shoes are a consumable so even though you may have had them for a long time but not run many miles in them, you do need to be mindful of whether they are doing the job of protecting your feet/ankles/knees/hips as with any other consumable they do have a shelf life.  However, they are generally more expensive than many other consumables and people do treat them as long term products and tend to hold on to them for a long time.

Trainers are designed to have a shelf life, if you think of the cushioning of the midsole of a trainer as being similar to bubble wrap so with every step you take some of the bubbles burst and just like bubble wrap whose bubbles have been burst you end up with an un-cushioned and flat support system where there was once cushioning. 

The knock on effect of this cushioning breaking down is that the rest of the support and structure of your shoe also breaks down which can result in you not running in the same way as you first did when you were originally fitted for your trainers.  This means that your feet, calves, quads, hamstrings and hips may not go through the same motion as they first did when you were first fitted for your trainers.  The knock on effect of this is that the body will compensate for this mismatch and this compensation leads to not running as efficiently as you once were which can result in niggles or a long term injury.

As the breakdown of your trainers happens slowing, you don’t just wake up one morning and the trainers are no longer effective, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly when you need to replace them.  Here are my top tips for recognising the signs of when to replace your trainers

  • You start to have niggles in places that you’ve not had niggles before, it may be that you are starting to have aches, pains or injuries that you have not had before
  • You have run over 500 miles (again this is difficult to determine, some professionals advise 300 miles, others up to 800 miles but weather and terrain can also play a part in the deterioration of the trainer so think about where you have run)
  • Even if you have had your trainers for a long time but you haven’t run the suggested miles in them, adverse heat and cold can break the trainers down if they have been thrown in a cupboard
  • The rubber on the outsole has worn down on one side more than the other
  • If your trainer bends in the middle easily (the support has therefore broken down)
  • There is little or no give when you press firmly on the inside of the front of the shoe

My advice is if you are unsure it's worth going to a specialised running shop, take your old trainers with you and see what they say.  Most reputable shops won't sell you trainers that you don't need.

I have also embedded a YouTube clip that will help those of you who have weak glutes, just some simple exercises to do at home, the move that I showed you last night is on this clip.

5 Easy Exercises for Stronger Glutes

These easy exercises can be done anywhere to help strengthen your gluteal muscles. Glutes (A.K.A. butt, bottom, backside, booty or toosh), hold a lot of power and strengthening your glutes can help you become a better runner, cyclist, walker, jogger, skater, swimmer, dancer, squater....you get the idea right?!