What Is Mobility?

Mobility over flexibility, I’ve had that simple motto for a while now,  meaning as runners we need to focus on our overall mobility in the running range of motion over general flexibility… but what is mobility?

Mobility – The ability to move freely and easily

Essentially mobility is everything to running. Your ability to move freely in the running plane of motion is incredibly important and this mobility can be hindered by:

Tight muscles

Lack of local flexibility

General form issues (side to side movement)

Hip flexibility (ability to drive your knee upwards)

Upper Body

Flexibity, “your legs follow your arms”

Torsion of your torso (think twisting side to side)

Simple right?

So let me explain “mobility over flexibility”

Is flexibility important? Absolutely, but flexibility for the sake of flexibility isn’t optimizing your time. Static stretching will make you flexible but your dynamic flexibility hasn’t changed much. So working on flexibility using dynamic poses is far more successful, reaching down to touch your toes isn’t exactly a running specific motion right? Therefore, mobility is localized flexibility in relation to your running form, you need flexible hips and glutes because those muscle groups are directly responsible for knee lift and drive.

Chad and I have talked about this before but how you work on your mobility is extremely individualized. We all have our own tight muscle groups and past injury history. A good mobility plan will take that into effect and use it in reference to your running form.

Take a look at my video below where I take you through an initial running form consultation and show you what I look at when I look at mobility in general.

 

Here are the 3 methods of increasing your mobility, and then you will individualize within these methods:

Running Form Drills (as demonstrated in the video above)

Mobility exercises (these were popularized by Kelly Starrett and are hyper-focused on individual muscle groups)

Myo-fascial release (foam rolling and other methods to release muscle tension and allow the muscle to function properly)

I hope you could learn something from that but if you have questions go ahead and ask them in the comments of this article and I would love to answer them.

You can also reach out to me on Instagram and Twitter or maybe I answered your question on a recent episode of my podcast Running Through It.

Happy Running,

Justin

Running Through It: Marathon Recovery Plan

Post-Marathon Recovery Plan

A Post Marathon recovery plan can be tricky, how do you get started on your next training plan? How do you make sure you are fully recovered?

As with all things the perfect plan is very individualized, some runners need more time off and need their recovery to be monitored to make sure they are completely recovered going into the next training cycle while other runners need to be coerced into taking time off because they feel fresh after a couple of days.

It is important to consider mental recovery in this case though, as my college coach used to tell us,

“You either take a break voluntarily or your body will decide for you”.

You may not feel exhausted… but the toll of all of those long runs and hard efforts will take its toll eventually. It can be very tempting (especially after a pr race) to just fire through from one marathon to the next and you might even get away with it for a little while.

However, eventually, this will catch up with you, Continue reading “Running Through It: Marathon Recovery Plan”

Having Confidence in your Training Plan

I think it’s safe to say that confidence is a good thing, especially when you truly believe in your training plan… but what happens when you lose faith in your training or… you are too cocky about your fitness.

I’ve seen both situations – as well as runners who have failed from not realizing, or succeeded from checking their mentality.

Like anything in running there is a tendency to be hypercritical on every aspect of how you feel during a run. Running is more of a mental sport than we realize and those mentality shifts can happen without us realizing if we aren’t taking stock in our running or if we aren’t realizing that bad days happen. It’s the biggest thing I harp on with my athletes, how are you feeling? Is it mental or physical?

You can’t get too hung up on the minutia of a training plan… I mean you can but it really isn’t necessary until you’ve explored all other options..

What do I mean by minutia?

Think running 8:20 pace instead of running 8:50 pace – only when you’ve explored all other options should you be worried about easy pace and how it is making you feel. I’ve gone into easy pace and running by feel before so I’m not going to get into it here but my point is that your confidence shouldn’t come from easy run pace until you’ve explored all of the other variables. Minutia simply refers to being caught in the weeds… i.e. not seeing the bigger picture.

Confidence in your training is the greatest performance enhancer, go to any cross country meet in the nation and observe the runners on the line. I guarantee you that the top teams will have a certain swagger about them; they know they are ready and they are confidence that they will race well however they aren’t cocky to the point they aren’t ignoring the race plan.

Confidence in your Training Plan

 

You need that swagger! it isn’t saved for high school kids anymore. I give you permission to be wholly confident in your training, believe that what’s on paper will take you to the finish line! It’s ok to question things along the way but be sure that the right solution will be found and your body will react in the best way possible… It’s a confidence game after-all.

– Justin

Am I Hurt Or Am I Just Sore? Part 1 DOMS & Inflammation

Am I Hurt Or Am I Just Sore

Am I hurt or am I just sore?

This is a common question you might ask yourself, especially the day after a hard workout or starting something new.

I used to be really bad at answering this question, which says a lot about my background and how far my knowledge has come since I was a 5’2″ high school freshman.

I was having a conversation with a friend about this the other day and we decided that it all came down to the old school mentality our coach
instilled.

Sure we were tough and had a “nose down” type of attitude, but this led to the idea that being sore was some kind of weakness. We ran through a lot of warning signs because… that’s just what we did. A mix of not knowing any better and wanting to be the runner with the most grit, but inevitably the injury team could have fielded a Varsity and Junior Varsity squad by the time conference rolled around.

* For the sake of clarity to anyone who didn’t run in high school, the “top 7” runners on the team were the Varsity squad and the next 7 were considered Junior Varsity, we had a small team – ok back to the post

You do need to be able to recognize that soreness is ok! but only within a certain context…

So what are these so called ‘warning signs’?

You can expect soreness after a good, hard workout or after a mileage increase, and that’s fine but be cognizant about where you feel it!
This comes down to DOMS!

DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is caused by micro-tears in the muscle. These tears are necessary for building muscle/building better endurance in the muscle. All good things!

However, inflammation is an unnecessary byproduct of this process. Inflammation, essentially your muscles’ response to training*, can cause excess tightness throughout your body and can really impact the flexibility of your muscles and joints during this period.

*A more technical definition dealing with inflammation – biochemical processes release proteins called cytokines as “emergency signals” that bring in your body’s immune cells, hormones and nutrients to fix the problem

So if we think of DOMS as a 48 hour window; any pain past that is a cause for concern. I usually follow this protocol with my athletes:

*Soreness up to 48 hours after: probably not serious unless it is near the joint or throwing off running form – monitor the situation and be sure to take care of yourself! Follow The Art Of Foam Rolling!

If it’s over 48 hours and there is still muscle pain, then it is probably time for a cross training day. I would recommend staying active in your recovery to help speed up the process, however if you’re legs are dead…

There is nothing wrong with an off day or two!

If there is still pain after the next 3 days (the 5th day post initial soreness) of taking time off or cross training — call this the next 72 hour rule — then it is time to go see a chiropractor or physio or sports doctor, at this point there is something wrong and the sooner you find the problem, the sooner you can start rehabbing!

So let’s look at a few scenarios –

INJURY TIMETABLE 1: First workout in spikes
Day 1 – Calf soreness/tightness but overall run goes fine
Day 2 – Calf is extremely sore, achilles tendon feels swollen and running is throwing off your gait – take a cross training day today
Day 3 – Feels a bit better but you still bike for the day
Day 4 – Calf still feels tight but after biking, a light jog and foam rolling you feel a lot better
Day 5 – Back to running!!

INJURY TIMETABLE 2: First big increase in mileage
Day 1 – You don’t really notice it but your legs are overall sore from the mileage so you take a super easy day
Day 2 – Your legs feel better but now you feel the soreness in your shin area, painful to the touch – take a cross training day tomorrow
Day 3 – Running is out of the question today, your shins are hurting when you walk
Day 4 – You don’t feel any better today and even biking is causing your shins to ache!
Day 5 – You feel just as bad as you did yesterday (you spent 3 days cross training and it doesn’t seem to be hurting)
Day 6 – It could be a stress fracture or it could be really bad shin splints, so think about going to see a chiropractor or physical therapist or someone in that field as it could be a muscular problem that can be worked out.

As with anything, listen to what your body is telling you! Do not be stubborn and think,”I’ll just run through it” because that mentality will put you on the shelf for a long time.

Thanks for reading friends,
As Always please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Coming up in part 2: Rehab and Prehab!

Justin

Trust the process… but only if you trust your coach

Trust the process but don't just follow along randomly

We all have different goals, routines, habits, programs and beliefs when it comes to training and building a training plan. Regardless of any of the above a common rule of thumb is to trust the process.

When planned properly, this “process” will get you exactly where you need to go. All you have to do is trust it and follow along accordingly.
And like most things in life, this is way easier said than done.

Trust the process.. but only if you trust your coach

Recently I have switched my personal style of training to accommodate my daughters sporadic schedule. As much as I would love to spend two hours in my studio, it simply won’t happen. To add even more fun to that adventure, she frequently cries during my training sessions and needs to be fed/comforted/changed… this makes rest times between exercises a bit random. Continue reading “Trust the process… but only if you trust your coach”

Make A Racing Plan And Stick To It – Be Successful in 2016!

Make A Racing Plan

It’s a new year and for many of us that means making goals and setting our expectations for this coming year; career goals, personal goals, but what about running goals?

Think about it!

What did you accomplish last year?

Maybe you ran your first marathon or ran a personal record in the 5k, reflect on those accomplishments and lets build on that. Set some specific goals, don’t just go into the year thinking, “I’m going to pr this year” or “I’m going to run farther this year” – How are you going to accomplish that exactly?

Make A Racing Plan

Let’s look at it from a year long stand point, pick a few key races – a destination marathon or your hometown 10k because you want to show up an old training partner – make your goals and plan your training around them – come up with a racing plan.

The next step is writing it out!

Writing your goal down commits it to memory and allows you to display your goal where you can see it EVERY DAY!

Here’s the thing; you need a goal to progress in your training – you can’t have the same goal and use the same cookie cutter training plan and expect to make progress! You won’t improve off of the same training year after year, training that has worked for you before might not work in the same way the next time.

Why?

Your body is a crazy thing and will become accustomed to stress. This goes for more than just training – after cycles of stress and recovery your body becomes resistant and needs a higher level of stress for that system to react!

So the same beginner 10k plan that brought you to your first race won’t have the same effect on you for your second – you may still improve in the end because you have a race under your belt now but you won’t improve by as much. Every training cycle must build on the previous cycle – hence why having goals and planning races in advance is important!

I’m not telling you how many times to race a year – but be sure to pick out a few key races that the rest of the races build towards.

Here’s an example:

Goal: Spring Half Marathon PR & Fall First Marathon

Plan: A Year Long increase in mileage while working on different paces and finding what works best for you. Peak for the half – a few down weeks – and start building ideal mileage for the fall marathon. This gives you time to safely increase your mileage while learning what the pace feels like and finding what training style works best for you.

Make A Racing Plan And Stick To It

 

What’s your running goal for 2016?

Let’s figure this out! Don’t go into the new year or new racing season blind – training on a whim and racing when we feel like it.

Set your goals, pick your races, make a plan to pr and have your best year yet!

All it takes is a smart racing plan and commitment to that plan and the lifestyle that comes with it – you will be unstoppable.

Justin