Coming from the world of power lifting and bodybuilding as my chosen sports, it’s odd to me that people could derive pleasure out of running. Especially long distance running, not to mention marathons. And judging by the looks on many people’s faces I see running along the beach here in South Florida I suspect most don’t. I believe the reason for this is that most people who choose running as an activity are not doing so as efficiently as possible and therefore feeling as though it’s something they have do as a means to an end. In other words, many runners are doing it to lose weight or build up there cardiovascular system without realizing that running is a skill and that in order to run efficiently and effectively you must have synchronization of the 3 B’s.
The big toe, the butt and the belly! Yes, you read that properly! When the big toe, the butt and the belly are getting along during the run the whole body is in synch and the run becomes much more efficient and effective. Now what in the world do these 3 structures have to do with running? Well allow me to explain: The big toe is important during the mid stance (when one foot is on the ground) and as the ground, mass of our body and momentum moves over that foot in to flight phase. During this time our hip extends (hopefully), our knee starts extending, our ankle starts dorsiflexing (toes toward shins), our heal starts inverting, our subtalor joint starts going through inversion and our mid tarsel joint locks up positioning our foot for good propulsion off the big toe. And when the big toe propels well, it turns on the butt (and all the associated hip muscles) which in turn turns on the belly (and all the associated trunk muscles). Fortunately for us this all happens through grace, gravity and the ground. However, when this chain reaction is not happening problems are caused throughout the body and the running experience leads to a progressive breaking down of the body, exactly opposite of why we do it in the first place.
One interesting thing about running is the impact the body goes through (called the loading phase in functional terms) as the body in flight turns into a body on the ground with one leg. It has been said that the forces that go through the body during the landing phase are equal to at least 10 times your bodyweight. And all the motions we described earlier have to happen in a slit second before the body goes through the exploding phase, a transfer to the other side and back to the loading phase on the opposite side. It’s no wonder those people I see running don’t look very happy! There’s a lot going on.
Exercises specific to running preparation
The goal of any sport specific training program is to ultimately make the sport easier to do. In other words, your exercise program should complement, not confuse, the nervous system patterns being challenged during the sport activity. A running preparation program is no exception. We already spoke about the 3 B’s we need to “turn on” during our training. The following is some sample exercises to help us do just that. The videos that accompany this article will describe each of these.
Phase One – Flexibility/Mobility
Tri Stretch Calf Mobility
Long stride Toed in 3 dimensional Hip flexor stretches
Walking Tri Plane Mobility Stretch
Phase Two – Strengthening
Clubbell Long Stride Core Strength Exercise Series
Phase Three – Dynamic Strength and Balance
Leg and Arm Drivers in all 3 planes
Resisted Hip drives
More of Koach John McDermott can be found here