Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to get tough and fight injuries

I am trying to answer questions this week that people have emailed me and left in comments. (If you have a question feel free to leave it in a comment!) Yesterday I answered the "what do you wear to run in the cold question". I have had a few people ask me lately about what I do for strength/cross training. I admit that I am not very good at cross training. I hate riding a bike (sorry, it's true). I don't have anywhere to swim (closest indoor pool is over an hour away). I don't have the patience for workout DVDs, and I don't have time or money to go to a gym for classes. Excuses? Reality? Yes, and yes.

That said, I do believe that to be a strong, healthy runner you have to be strong and fit overall and that running alone is not enough to accomplish that.

I have really been building up my weekly running miles the last few months, and I believe that one of the biggest reasons I have been able to run 70-75 mile weeks repeatedly now and stay injury free (knock on wood) is because of the strength, core, and flexibility training I have been doing in addition to my running.

Three times a week I do a core routine. I get up early and do it before the kids are up and before I run. The core routine I do is a combination of exercises from Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning book (this is the training plan I am using for Disney and Boston at least) and some exercises I noted from Runner's World and Running Times.

I do this set of exercises all the way through, twice in a row. (You can find details on some of these here). It takes me about 25 minutes.
50 crunches
20 leg pushaway's (this one REALLY works the core well. See link above for details).
6 lying bridges (10 seconds each)
6 "staff" pushups (5 seconds each)
6 standing knee hold's (three each leg, 10 seconds each)
6 Superman's, one arm, opposite leg raised for each  (10 seconds each)
2 side plank/hovers (one each side, one minute each)
1 prone plank (one minute)
1 back bend (20-30 seconds)

Twice a week, I get up early and do a strength routine. 
I do this set of exercises all the way through, twice in a row. It takes about 25 minutes.
20 pushups (the REAL kind. I am proud of that!)
20 bench dips
20 lunges each leg (40 total)
20 squats
20 V-sits (these things suck but have done wonders for my core)
20 glute kick backs (20 each leg)
20 donkey kicks (20 each leg)
20 fire hydrant kicks (20 each leg) love this one for hips!
20 side-lying leg lifts (20 each leg)

On my long run day and on my toughest speed work day I don't do any extra exercises before I run. (Yes, right now I am running seven days a week, but I take at least one or two days very easy). Every day after I run, I do a routine of stretching and foam rolling. I know that stretching is one of those "personal" things in the running world. There are runners that are religious about stretching and runners that swear they never do. For me, I believe stretching works and helps keep my body happy.

After every run I do this routine. I do each stretch on both sides, and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, release, then repeat it for another 30 seconds. It takes about 20-25 minutes (sometimes longer, because Noah is usually crawling all over me for this. He loves when I am down on the floor with him and thinks rolling/stretching time = play time. I tell him he is my personal trainer).
straight leg calf stretch
bent leg calf stretch (stretches Achilles)
kneeling hamstring stretch
laying on back hamstring stretch
kneeling hip flexor stretch
standing quad stretch
Lying glute stretch (ankle to knee)
Lying ITB stretch
Downward facing dog yoga pose

Then I roll my ITBs, quads, and hamstrings with my roller.

If I "find" any sore/tight spots while I am stretching and rolling, I pay them some extra attention. 

It takes time to do all of this. And being honest, YES, there are days when I would so much rather just sleep in the extra half an hour, or when I get done with my run and I just want to skip right to breakfast. But I am asking a lot of my body, and if I want it to continue to be healthy and strong, I need to take care of it. And the extra 25-60 minutes a day is way worth it if it keeps me healthy and injury free. Since I started this routine (about six weeks ago), I have felt stronger all over (especially my core and upper body) and my  hamstrings (which have always been tight) are feeling much better. So for me, the time is well worth it and it has become an important part of my training.

Along with this, I try very hard to eat well and get enough rest. Again, I am asking a lot of my body, and if I want it to do what I want it to do without breaking down, I have to take care of it. That means getting adequate sleep and rest (or as much as possible... adequate isn't always an option for parents!) and giving my body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and strong.

I can't ask my body to run lots of miles and be fast (and expect it to do so) if I am filling it full of sugar and crappy food. So I make sure I get the right amount of calories and that most of them are from the best sources (whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, potatoes, fish, lean meats, eggs, soy milk, etc.) and I drink lots and lots of water. I definitely notice that I feel stronger as a runner when I am well-rested and am eating well.

How about you? Do you do strength/core/cross training? What do you do?

Do you stretch? Always? Never? Sometimes?

Do you notice a difference in your training when you eat and sleep well?

If you have questions about any of these exercises or stretches ask away and I will try to clarify. :)


SWMom said...

THANKS! I have printed this off and it's going on my fridge. I am a rookie runner and I have been struggling to fit in the strength training at the gym so this is PERFECT. You're the best!

Natalie R. said...

This is an awesome post. I have been mulling over my routine, and am always dilligent about stretching, but having a hard time fitting in more strength. I do strength twice a week, but I think I need a more comprehensive plan. I am up by 6 getting kids out the door for the next 45 minutes. Then I run, and when I get home, I need to get the next set of kids out the door by 8:45, and be ready myself. I know how important it is for overall fitness, and was just thinking, if I want to get it in, I will have to get up earlier and do it before I run. Do you stretch a little before adding strength, and do you use weights at all?

Natalie R. said...

Also, I notice a HUGE difference when I've been up in the night with sick kids/or not sleeping well and not eating the best foods. And, have you found/heard of a good yoga for runners dvd or routine?

I do cross-train when I train for my tris. Biking is really fun. My favorite ride is a 24 mile around our lake with my husband! I feel more balanced and LOVE swimming in the lake (when not 55 degrees).

The Green Girl said...

Thank you so much for sharing. This is helping to motivate me to focus on strength training.

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

great post, erin! i really admire your dedication to your running, and how you honor your body and give it what it needs when you are asking so much of it. great for all of us to remember! i do strength training 2-3x a week and also do pilates. i foam roll every night and do dynamic stretches before i run, static stretches after i run. i would really love to make more time for yoga because i love it so much, but it's logistically hard for me right now with a young baby at home. i also love spinning as a cross training activity, but haven't done it in a while. i love this post and thank you for sharing. so much great stuff here! i know you are going to have great races this season!!!

Cory Reese said...

Thank you so much for these tips! I knew I needed to start doing something like this, I just didn't know what. You have given me answers.

I saved this post in my Favorites.

H Love said...

wow..this is so impressive. You are amazing!

Quiltlady said...

I have yet to begin a core workout but know I need to. Especially if I am going to improve my times and increase my distances. But sometimes the first step is the hardest - thanks for sharing yours.

Diana Guess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

I just started consistent strength and stretching. It's hard to find the time, but it is so important. I'm bookmarking this post as a great reference for a routine to work into my own! Thank you!

Jill said...

I do core/strength training twice a week for 45 minutes or so, and even though I have reduced my mileage because of it, I have never felt stronger. My biggest problem is that I am often sore and I know I need to get a foam roller and do a better job of stretching.

Molly said...

I'm the same as you, lately my cross training involves doing exercises on my living room floor. I stretch EVERY night, and love my foam roller : )

Congrats on the Brooks Gig!

jackie said...

This is probably a silly question, but, what kind of socks do you wear in the cold

Christine said...

This is a great post! I'm a newer runner and I'm always dealing with aches and pains (and I've had a couple of injuries). I'm training for my first half and it gets frustrating to have to wait a couple of days after every long run. I do spotty strength training and need to beef that up. I assume some of the exercises you mentioned that I don't recognize (pushaways, staff, and superman, for example) are in the book you linked to? Thanks for the awesome tips!

lindsay said...

thanks for the exercise tips! will have to borrow these :) i have the advanced marathoning book but uh, haven't exactly read it yet... whoops. only been a few years of sitting on my shelf :)

H Love said...

this is so impressive...need to work on this!