There’s not better feeling than a runner’s high; runs feel
easy, exhilarating, while riding an endorphin high. But it’s not just a runner’s high, but an
endurance fitness high, one that leaves you feeling happy and confident.
Equally power, yet detrimental to physical and mental
well-being is the running slump.
Stagnation, boredom, loss of motivation, and dread are commonly
experienced during a slump. Digging
yourself out of a slump can feel like an impossible task.
And when running is no longer joyful, it’s time for change.
What is a running slump?
Dips in motivation are common and normal for new and experienced
runners alike. Not all training days
will feel great, and bad days come to an end.
However, if negative feelings persist, it’s time to shake things
A number of factors can trigger a running slump, such less-than-ideal
weather, stressful personal situations, and stagnation with a regular fitness
① Take a Break
There are few things worse during
training than when running feels forced, requiring large amounts of mental
energy to do what was once pleasurable.
It’s a downward spiral with few good outcomes.
ACTION: Time away from the rigors of training can do
wonders for the soul. A few days off can
provide the necessary rest and recovery to break out a running funk. Eat, sleep, and find joy in life.
② Introduce Variety
When you feel bored by your usual
routes, pace, or training style, try something new. Stagnation is the enemy of progress. Variety presents opportunities to adapt and
experience new things.
ACTION: Join a
local running club. Sign up for a
different style race – Ragnar, Spartan, trail.
Explore new routes. Experiment
with a different training system.
③ Mental Reset
No matter what, remember that running
slumps are part of the journey of every runner.
There’s no need to feel down on yourself if you need to take a few days
off or simply reset mentally. Focus on
progress, not perfection or total adherence to a training plan. A little bit of something is better than a
whole lot of nothing.
a fitness routine, but replace running with walking, hiking, or other
low-impact activities. Increase sleep,
napping if possible.
Bring mindfulness to your posture throughout the day.
Are your feet pointed straight forward and parallel to each other, shoulder-width apart, and directly under your hips?
Is your spine and lumbo-pelvic-hip complex neutral?
Are your shoulders level and scapulae parallel to each other?
Is your head in neutral position?
If not, strive to adopt this position at all times. In a neutral position, the body is at its most stable.
Proper posture maximizes your highest level of functional strength, keeping muscles at their proper length, allowing them to work together correctly, ensuring proper joint motion, maximizing force production, and reducing the risk of injury.
Without proper posture, the body degenerates and experiences altered movement patterns and muscle imbalances. These deficiencies can lead to common injuries, such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, lower back pain, and plantar fasciitis.
HOW POSTURE DECLINES
An Occupation or Hobby That Requires Extended Periods of Sitting
When people sit for prolonged
periods of time throughout the day, the hip flexors (rectus femoris, tensor
fascia latae, and iliopsoas). The
problem is further compounded, especially when seated in front of a computer or
hand-held device. There is a tendency
for the shoulders to round forward and the head to protrude forward.
Shoes with a high heel puts the
ankle and foot in a plantarflexed (toe pointed) position for extended periods
of time, leading to tightness of the calf (gastrocnemius), soleus, and Achilles
tendon. Decreased dorsiflexion (toes
pulled up) and overpronation result from this postural imbalance, resulting in
flattening of the arch of the feet.
Walking in flip flops requires the
big toe to clench to keep them from slipping off. When this occurs, the plantar fascia and
tissues in the arch get shortened, altering the proper function of the
foot. The heel cord is shortened, the
Achilles tendon is affected, the arches are stressed, resulting in pain.
Sitting with Legs Crossed
Aside from temporarily raising
blood pressure, sitting with legs crossed introduces muscle imbalances that
result in poor posture. Prolonged
sitting in this position leads to a rounding of the back. When the back is rounded, shoulders roll
forward, the chin juts forward, and the lumbar lordosis (i.e. small of the
back) is minimized. This posture
stresses the spine and increases the pressure on the gluteus maximus.
A study performed by the University
Medical Centre in Rotterdam replicated different sitting positions by embalming
pelvises. They found that the piriformis muscle in the buttock was tighter by
11% in the group that crossed their legs at the knee compared to the group that
kept their legs uncrossed. Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis is
tight and spasming, causing low back pain.
The pelvis is the body’s
center. When in the neutral position –
the middle position – not tilted forward or backward (lateral view) or uneven
(anterior view), the spine assumes a natural curve. When the pelvis is tilted or uneven, the
center of gravity changes, creating muscle imbalance. When one part of the body doesn’t work
correctly, other parts have to compensate for the weak point. Weakness of
supporting muscles causes superficial muscles to be overworked, which may
result in pain, excess muscle tension, and spasms.
Carrying small children on the hip, weak core muscles, and standing with weight distributed on one leg are all sources of pelvic imbalances.
Identifying improper patterns of
both static and dynamic posture in an athlete is the starting point for
improving posture. The question of how imbalances originate is one that requires
examination of form compensations listed above. As athletes increase their
understanding of proper alignment, their postural awareness begins to improve
greatly. The more proficient athletes get in thinking about their body
positions and mindful movements, the easier it becomes for them to identify
good and bad alignment and make corrections.
BENEFITS OF A POSTURE ASSESSMENT
Completion of a postural assessment identifies
muscle imbalances that lead to faulty movement patterns and decreases
functional strength. Identifying
overactive and underactive muscles associated with poor posture allows a
Certified Personal Trainer, chiropractor, physical therapist, and other
professionals to create a program that strengthens underactive muscles while
lengthening and stretching overactive muscles.
Practicing mindfulness to your posture throughout the other
hours of the day you’re not training – running, strength, etc. – will make you
a better overall athlete. The more you
practice proper posture throughout the day, the more likely you are to maintain
it during activity.
The result? Smarter,
stronger, and faster runners.
If you’d like to complete a postural assessment, please
contact Coach Stephanie Harboe @ email@example.com for more
As a runner who grew up before the Internet and cell phones were ubiquitous, a Timex Ironman watch was my high-tech gear . As a result, I developed a strong awareness of perceived effort and self-awareness during my runs.
Technology can be wonderful guide for more effective training. Programming workouts into your GPS watch allows you to focus quality training at appropriate intensity (speed, pace, duration, or by perceived effort) by taking over tracking distance, pace, duration. No need to constantly check your watch, distracting you from engaging with what is important – pace control, breathing rate, perceived effort, and mental focus.
Planning, preparing, and performing quality training for 14-18 weeks is the tough part.
Selecting a course – one that closely aligns with your race goal – can make or break the race experience. Personal preferences – temperature, number of marathon participants, and time of year, among many factors – are important to consider when selecting your next marathon. Add adequate training time (12-18 weeks for a marathon, dependant on individual) to the list. And “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies too.
Here are the steps I take when selecting a course for a marathon.
An appropriate warm up primes your body and mind for upcoming training or competition.
Priming is an important component to training, especially harder effort runs. Priming prepares the physiological and psychological systems for use or action. A short 10-15 minute warmup routine primes the body for the demands of harder effort training, such as interval, lactate threshold, or VO2 max training or competition. Continue reading →
I am very fortunate to live in a vibrant, active town. Copious sidewalks, wide bike trails, walking and running trails throughout town, large parks and plentiful green space, and numerous garbage receptacles with free dog poop bags are a few of the reasons people choose to live in here. It is rare to drive and not see individuals, groups, and families outside walking, biking, running, playing at the park, or participating in sports.
SSF Running is pleased to offer a self-directed 6-week training plan specifically designed for the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
Athletes will receive a detailed 6-week training plan via Final Surge, the guide How to Apply Pace Guidance to 6-week APFT Plan, links to training articles, and a soon-to-be-released guide Race Strategies for the APFT.
DISCLAIMER: Training results will be influenced by factors such as
family demands, TDY, FTX and unit-PT obligations. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the is a guide,not a guarantee. That being said, the APFT training plan is a realistic projection for which the athlete should strive to obtain through practicing patience, discipline and consistency over the 6-week training period.
As a coach, I love using pick ups to introduce speed work to athletes. Whether I am working with a new runner to build endurance and strength or an experienced runner preparing to start a longer training cycle, pick ups are great for all runners.
When I mention speed work, most runners assume track workouts. That is hardly the case. Track work can be intimidating for newer runners, boring for experienced runners. There are a few outliers who love the track – hooray for them – and by all means can complete pick up workouts there.
Personally, I love the track for interval workouts, but find my happy place for all other workouts on roads and trails. Plus, my races do not occur on a track. I try to train on the surfaces that closely mimic race conditions (surface and elevation). Continue reading →