When we train to reach a specific goal, we tend to develop tunnel vision. We become so laser-focused on our goal that we miss a lot of the supplemental things we must do to achieve it. As runners, most of us have at some point in time picked a race to train for and have devoted countless miles of effort towards that goal. As goal-oriented people, we often focus solely on the race activity: running. While running is the main component of training, however, there are other pieces to the puzzle. And when we neglect them, we don't assemble the whole picture. In short, we need to take care of the little things in order to achieve the bigger things.
Assemble the picture of a complete runner and racer by supplementing your running with the following training pieces.
Stretch & Foam Roll - Our "run" is not done when we're finished running. Too often we neglect to take the time to properly stretch and foam roll. We are doing the same repetitive motion thousands of times throughout a run. The involved muscles will understandably be fatigued and tend to tighten up. We want to keep them loose so that we're not fighting ourselves each and every step we run. The last Wednesday of every month, the FLEET FEET Training Center has a free class on how to foam roll. If you haven't taken it, I highly recommend giving it a shot. If you cannot make it to a workshop, stop by any FLEET FEET store and a Fit Professional can educate you on how to quickly and effectively stretch and roll.
Strength Training - No runner should try to put The Incredible Hulk to shame. We're talking about making sure we have muscle balance and that our muscles all work together and fire properly. Often, runners will have some muscles that become dominant and take over the role best served by another muscle. On race day, the result is quicker fatigue because we're not properly sharing the load between the correct muscle groups. Many classes at a gym can exacerbate this issue because we're still not turning on the right muscles. The FLEET FEET Training Center has several classes designed to help runners get everything working together through proper muscle activation.
Core - Having a weak core will result in delivering less energy to the ground; energy that is used to propel us forward. I typically use the bench press to explain the the need for core strength. We all understand that running builds strong legs and lungs. Imagine your legs are like a big weight plate on one end of a bench press bar...and your lungs are a big weight plate on the other end of the bar. Your core strength serves as the bar connecting the two end weights. If you have a weak core, it's like having a rope in place of a steel bar. It's not gonna work too well. Planks, bridges, and bodyweight exercises are the best way to develop core strength. Sit-ups often put us in poor positions and don't truly focus on the areas that can help us the most. And, yes, the FLEET FEET Training Center offers a runner-focused core strength class.
Rest - Get your rest, whether its by making an effort to get an extra hour of sleep each night or by taking one day off from training each week. Your body doesn't convert your training to improvement if it's constantly being beaten up and shorted on rest. Everyone has busy lives and things that pull us in a multitude of directions. Many runners don't burn a candle at both ends; they take several blowtorches to it. Try to find time to shut a few of those burners off when your body needs some rest.
Running is the primary thing we must do to achieve your goals... but without taking care of these supplemental training aspects, we'll never know what we can achieve.