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Run Economy & Resistance Training

By Megan Brown

As runners, our main goal is to get the finish line as fast as we can and in most cases, ahead of as many people as possible. To achieve this goal, we set up complex training plans which include: long runs, shorter aerobic runs, tempo/threshold intervals, speed intervals and hill repeats.

 

Now, what if I told you that you could also get faster by investing some extra time in ‘NON-running’ workouts?

 

No, I am not referring to hitting the pool or jumping on your bike! I am suggesting that you can get faster as a runner by hitting the gym for strength and resistance training.

 

You have probably heard many times that RESISTANCE TRAINING can improve run performance. Some cite reasons such as ‘increased strength’ or ‘increased power’ or even ‘fatigue resistance’ for improved performance. Although many of these outcomes do lead to performance enhancement, resistance training, if done properly, has the most profound impact on performance because of its effect on run economy.

 

RUN ECONOMY is formally defined as the amount of oxygen consumed to run a given speed for a given distance. To illustrate: Erin may require 49ml of oxygen to run a 4:30 km, while it may cost Wes 54ml of oxygen to run his 4:30 km, making him ‘less economical’. With all things being equal, who do you expect to get to the finish line first? I bet you wish you were Erin!

 

You can also understand this concept by comparing your body to a car, and oxygen to gas; the more economical your car, the less gas you require to get from A to B at a given speed. And since gas (oxygen) is one of the limiting factors of performance, you want be as economical as possible.

 

Interestingly, most recreational (and even professional) runners loose a great deal of economy through their RUN MECHANICS. Below are some of the more common mechanical flaws:

  1. Hip instability
  2. Slow foot contact time
  3. Poor hamstring activation
  4. Insufficient knee drive

Therefore, a sound (run-specific) strength and resistance program that focuses on improving hip & core strength, foot contract time, hamstring activation and knee drive will inevitably make you a faster, more economical runner.

Below are examples of exercises that might be seen in such a program:

1)     Hip raise with hip abduction against resistance

– lie on you back, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the ground with resistance band around your knees

– raise your hips forming an incline bridge while pushing your knees out against resistance

*Start with 1 set of 12, move to 2 sets of 12-10 then 3 sets of 12-10-8

2)   Plank on swiss ball – “Stir the pot”

– form a plank on your elbows on a medium sized swiss ball

– contract your core while ensuring the integrity of your back stays strong

– use your forearms to ‘stir’ the swiss ball to the right and then to left while keep plank stable

* Start with 1 sets of 6xeach way; 2 sets of 6x each way; 3 sets of 6x each way 

3)     Hip raise with single straight leg

–        Lie on your back with your left knee bent and foot firm planted on the ground and right leg straight on the ground

–        Raise your hip (as in #1) while keeping your right leg straight; focus on leading the movement with your right leg so that your right hip is parallel with left hip and the end of the movement

–        Lower hip (and right leg) + repeat

–        To add a challenge, you can have the foot of your bent leg on a medicine ball creating an unstable surface

*Start with 1 set of 12x each leg then 2sets of 12xeach leg + 10xeach leg

4)     Running A’s against resistance 

–        Anchor a strong looped resistance band around a stable pole or piece of equipment  

–        With your back to equipment and the resistance band at waist level, run as hard as you can forward against the resistance

–        If done properly, the resistance band should keep you running in one spot despite your efforts to power forward

–        Continue to lean slightly forward and drive your knees, executing a perfect running motion

–        5-8 sets of 10sec; powerful running with high knees and perfect body condition

Thanks Megan Brown for providing us with this awesome article about run economy. Megan is a multiple-time Canadian cross country running champion and the current Canadian 1/2 marathon championShe coaches a wide array of runners in Toronto as part of MB Performance and can be reached at megan.brown2012@gmail.com


2011 PRO TEAM

Based on the unprecedented success of the 2010 7SYSTEMS team, the entire team is returning to compete again in 2011.  As well, there are three new additions to the team that are remarkable individuals committed to DOING MORE and doing it better.

NEW 2011 TEAM MEMBERS

Plus Paula Findlay: Paula Findlay is young triathlete with an impressive list of accomplishments. This year alone she has won three World championship series races consecutively, one each in Sydney, Kitzbuhel and Madrid and took a third at the Mooloolaba World Cup.  Read more about Paula.

Annamay Pierse: Annamay is a member of Canada’s national swim team and the current world record holder for the women’s 200m breaststroke.  Annamay was a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team in Beijing and is currently preparing for London in 2012.

Max Plaxton: Perhaps one of  Canada’s top male mountain biker and is a London 2012 hopeful.  Max is a professional mountain biker, five-time National Champion and two-time World Champion in the relay event. He currently is one of four team members in USA factory team Specialized/Sho-air which is a professional cross-country mountain bike team.  This year he has won the Canadian National Championships and is the US Pro Cross-Country Tour overall champion with 3 wins. Read his full profile.

Reid Coolsaet: He’s been running cross-country ever since the sixth grade and hasn’t missed a single season.
Reid is a 7-time 5000m Canadian Champion and also credits the 10 000m,  marathon and cross-country running titles to his name.  He has participated at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 4 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and 2 World Track & Field Championships.   Coolsaet just ran 2:11:23, the fastest time ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil, at the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon. This time is 6 seconds faster than the Canadian Olympic marathon standard.

RETURNING ATHLETES FROM 2010

Jasper Blake www.jasper.is: Professional Triathlete, Ironman Champion

Mike Neill www.mikeneill.com: Professional Triathlete, Owner/Head coach Human Powered Racing

Simon Whitfield www.simonwhitfield.com: Multiple Olympic Medalist Triathlete

Adam Van Koueverden www.vankayak.com: Multiple Olympic Medalist, World Champion Kayaker

Lauren Groves-Campbell Lauren Groves blogspot: 2008 Beijing Olympian Triathlete

Adam Campbell Adam Campbell Blogspot: Top Canadian Runner

Ray Zahab www.rayzahab.com: Ultra distance running legend

Malcolm Howard http://malcolmhoward.ca/: World champion, Olympic Champion Rower

Kyle Jones www.kylejones.ca: Canadian Short Course Triathlon Team

Erinne Willock Profile for Erinne Willock: Professional Road Cyclist, 2008 Beijing Olympian

Megan Brown Profile of Megan Brown: Top Canadian Runner

7SYSTEMS works with individuals not only as company ambassadors but as athletes who are committed to using the product and sharing the benefits with others. Last year there were hundreds of applicants and the team was picked on the basis of podium finishes, amazing athletic feats and strength of character.


2010 PRO TEAM

7SYSTEMS, the endurance sport supplement chosen by Olympians and recreational athletes all over Canada, has named ten athletes to their 2010 PRO TEAM. The team was chosen from among Canada’s top athletes. With hundreds of applicants, the team was picked on the basis of podium finishes, amazing athletic feats and strength of character.

 READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE.

MORE ABOUT THE ATHLETES
 

  • Jasper Blake: Triathlon – Ironman™
  • Megan Brown: Running – Cross Country / Track and Field
  • Adam Campbell: Running – Marathon
  • Lauren Groves: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Malcolm Howard: Rowing
  • Kyle Jones: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Mike Neill: Triathlon – Ironman™
  • Adam Van Koeverden: Canoe / Kayak
  • Simon Whitfield: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Erinne Willock: Cycling – Road
  • Ray Zahab: Running – Ultra marathons, expeditions
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