DRILLS, THRILLS, AND BONE STRENGTH All Earned Runs training plans include directions to perform dynamic and walking warm-ups prior to running. The dynamic warm-up is done before starting a 10-minute walking warm-up. For runners accustomed to lacing on shoes and immediately taking off at a decent clip once out the door, these advance preparations may seem unnecessary. HOWEVER, there’s even more to running preparation: FORM DRILLS, which elite runners and athletes in other sports perform.
A reason to do a dynamic ‘warm-up’ is, literally, to increase blood circulation and body temperature, thereby warming muscles, tendons and ligaments in preparation for further, more intense movement. Other reasons are to activate muscles and nerves and increase the range of motion (mobility) of joints. All relate to injury prevention.
The reason behind doing FORM DRILLS is improved performance. The article “The Basics of A-Skips” by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com, explains that the purpose of this specific drill is to achieve “better running form, functional strength, and efficiency” by developing “lower-leg strength, encouraging knee lift, and promoting an efficient foot-strike.”
There’s NO RULE that says you MUST DO form drills, do ALL the drills, or do all in ONE session. Elite runners might do this, especially at the urging of a coach or trainer. Their careers are centered on winning races and staying strong and healthy. Your running life might be centered on doing your best and staying strong and healthy. How THRILLING, you have something in common with the elites!
Initially, to dip your toe into the water of form drills, try this ONE that Fraioli recommends (A-Skips; 30-50 meter lengths, repeated twice, 2-3 times/week). Then you can experiment with others.
A link in Fraioli’s piece takes readers to another set of drills, discussed by Brian Metzler, “Essential Form Drills for Speed and Efficiency”,* for Competitor.com. Try one or more of these if you mastered the A-Skip, and are ready and willing to do more.
Metzler recommends his routine be followed consistently 3-4 times per week, with an emphasis placed on “CONSISTENTLY”. This number happens to be the times that a training plan is likely to incorporate speed work or runs that are not deemed “easy”: speed drills, intervals, tempo runs, hills. Perfect situations in which runners would benefit from starting off with, ”key muscles firing for faster running”.
Earned Runs has found by searching the medical literature that an ADDITIONAL benefit to be gained from performing these drills is improved BONE HEALTH AND STRENGTH, important to runners of all ages and both genders
This is a larger topic that will be discussed in a later blog post. Look for it next week.
This week, take a crack at learning just the one form drill, A-skips, that Mario Fraioli recommends. Try to be consistent in performing it before each speed workout and after longer easy runs. Check out the other drills that Brian Metzler writes about. Perhaps a couple will be more easily introduced initially into your warm-up routine, and the others can be added later.
What’s yet another THRILLING benefit of doing form drills? The body is the form of you the world sees. An improved running form can translate into an improved walking, standing, and sitting form. Add increased functional strength, and you have potentially forged a body that looks, feels, and functions better.
*NOTES: Here's a list for quick reference; read the article for specifics.
Butt Kicks: do 15 kicks with each leg; repeat 2-4 times
High Knees: do 15 kicks with each leg; repeat 2-4 times
Bounding: do 10 bounds on each leg; repeat 3-4 times
Grapevines: 50-meter length (about 50 yards) toward right then left; repeat 2-4 times
Slow Skipping: 50-meter length (about 50 yards); repeat 2-4 times
Lateral Bounding: 50-meter length (about 50 yards) toward right then left; repeat 2-4 times
Hamstring Extensions: do 10 extensions on each leg; repeat 2-4 times
Straight leg Shuffle: 50-meter length (about 50 yards); repeat 2-4 times
Running Backward: 50-100-meter length (about 50-100 yards); repeat 2-4 times
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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