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 firstname.lastname@example.org