Post by Sean Casey, Building Better Athletes
March is just a breath away and for runners that means one thing – winter is quickly coming to an end and spring like days are approaching. For those who have spent the winter braving the outdoor conditions, one will no longer have to bundle up with five layers of clothing and hurdle over patches of ice and snow in steeplechase like fashion. Similarly, for those who have spent the winter running on treadmills, it will be a welcomed relief to finally run in mother nature’s own backyard.
On the flip side of the equation, maybe you fall in the category of runners who took a little downtime over the winter and have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity stretch out the legs, shake off the rust and lace up the running shoes for the first time in a couple of months.
Regardless of which group of runners you find yourself in, one thing holds true – the coming of spring can be a great time to re-evaluate your past training and set firm goals on what you hope to achieve during the upcoming months. These goals may range from simply running in “X” races, or more ambitious ones such as lowering your MVRA Benefit Classic Half Marathon/5K time by a given amount, or qualifying for prestigious races such as the Boston Marathon.
Although the aforementioned goals may vary greatly from individual to individual, a common variable unites them – one must be healthy and, relatively speaking, free of injuries. As anyone who tried to compete in a race with a strained hamstring, sore thigh or simply low on the energy spectrum can tell you, it can be brutal.
What can one do, outside of monitoring overall running volume, to ensure that he or she doesn’t fall into one of these latter categories? Easy – incorporate resistance training into your schedule and improve the quality of your diet.
Although it may seem a bit counterintuitive for endurance athletes to partake in resistance training, the benefits are quite substantial. First and foremost among these are injury prevention. Running is a cyclical motion as the body repetitively performs the exact same movement. Over time, this leads to muscle and flexibility imbalances. Common ones we see at Building Better Athletes is strong and overly stiff anterior thigh muscles (quadriceps, etc) and relatively weaker muscles on the posterior side of the body such as hamstrings and butt muscles (glutes). The end result of this imbalance may include back, hip, knee or ankle pain.
Nutrition also greatly impacts your running performance. The most obvious one is a lack of overall energy while running. However, poor nutrition affects running performance in more subtle ways. This includes a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of catching the dreaded summer chest cold. Additionally poor nutrition negatively affects concentration, which leads to stress and potential injury from a misstep while running.
The coming of spring ushers in an exciting time for runners in the tri-state area as they set goals for the upcoming races in the months ahead. However, to maximize the experience, it’s important that one dials in their nutrition and strongly considers the addition of resistance training to their overall performance plan.
Sean Casey is a registered dietitian, certified sports nutritionist and physical preparation coach at Building Better Athletes. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com
What does the MVRA mean to me?
Five years ago you would have witnessed me getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. I had an athletic background in high school and college, but over several years’ time I had really let myself slip into an unhealthy, inactive person. I began to run.
I can remember the first time I was able to actually run an entire mile! After continued improvements and hard work, I entered my first competitive racing event, it was the Benefit Classic 5K sponsored by the MVRA. Crossing that first finish line marked the end of a race but the beginning of a journey. I realized that there were a lot of other people out there working hard to be healthy and active and there was this great community of runners who supported each other in those endeavors. I also saw a group of people who worked hard to ensure I was able to achieve the goals I had set out to overcome participating in this event. Those individuals inspired me more. I’m not the sort of person to sit by and let others work hard to help me achieve something. I had the desire to be a part of that group and to give back for helping me achieve my goals. After a period of time, an opportunity became available and I was able to join the board of directors of the MVRA; it was December of 2011.
The Mississippi Valley Running Association board of directors has put in thousands of hours helping support the running community since it began and the reason they were willing to put in those hours is because they love the miles and time out on the open road as much as you do. They’ve been there to help support every goal, every achievement and every finish line you’ve crossed and I am excited to be a part of that.
In 2015 a lot of changes are occurring. After more years than she is willing to count and organizing enough event miles to lap the globe two or three times, Angie Salas has retired as president of the board of directors (believe me, she will never truly be gone from the board!). I could never dream of being able to fully fill her shoes (or put as many miles on them as she has). Thankfully, Mr. Zmolek, with his infinite years of experience and knowledge, will continue to be hands on with the board and guide the organization (as a side note I have a hard time calling him Darrell since he was my 7th grade math teacher!). Several other faces on the board of directors have changed, but the goals and desires haven’t. We are excited to introduce the Dominate Dubuque series, growing the Benefit Classic into a destination run for all levels of athletes and families, improving our ability to provide scholarships to students at the Heritage Trail Run and to always be there for other local organizations working hard to ensure their events are successful by providing them equipment and support.
What does the MVRA mean to me? It means that someone is going to be there celebrating when I cross that finish line and ensuring that the journey isn’t over and there will be many more finish lines to cross. My name is Rob Harbin and I’m excited about what this year will bring and I can’t wait for you to be a part of it. I hope to see you out on the road and I’ll look forward to sharing many more finish lines with you.