All the parts are connected, we need a good landing for good loading. We need good loading for good propulsion AND we need good propulsion for a good landing.
There is a lot of conversation about heel strike or foot landing position for minimizing loading forces on the body. While it’s true that a foot strike closer into our center of mass minimizes the loading forces on the body, I think keeping the conversation focused on that misses the mark a bit.
What we really need is to optimize the way the lower body handles the load so that we can store elastic energy, get really stable especially through that mid stance to optimize that transfer of energy and then work on hip extension to propel us forward while taking advantage of the energy that we have stored with good loading and stability through mid-stance.
Even for someone who has a tendency toward overstriding, paying more attention to strength/stability through the middle and propulsion forward are the more important pieces in my opinion. Doing so will likely take care of the landing position while also significantly improving your overall running economy. That’s the magic right there!
In loading we need pre-tensioning around the knee and ankle. The hamstrings kick in at the end of the swing to put a nice bend in the knee. The quad is working to slow/resist the bending of the knee and the calf muscles are working to slow/resist dorsiflexion at the ankle - so that we can store energy in our tendons! They can act as springs! The muscles are almost acting isometrically when we run -- we can mimic this with intentional exercise.
To stabilize we need balanced strength around our hips and core. Important players he adductors, glute med, obliques, and counterbalance with swinging arms through torso rotation. Optimizing stability through midstance is goal number one for runners in my opinion. If we lose stability through midstance we lose energy.
Energy lost is energy you can’t use to move forward!
Energy lost typically means force poorly distributed across your joints - which typically leads to pain and even pelvic floor problems!
To propel forward we need effective hip extension through a rigid foot. Ideally, we push with our tush (glutes). The knees don't straighten until the very last second. Again this is something we can practice with intentional exercise
Ok, enough theory… let’s see what that looks like.
To simplify the above, intentional strength training for runners includes resistance training, isometrics and plyometrics.
Resistance training includes slow, often single-leg work with lower reps and heavier resistance while ensuring your body is in the right position AND supportive accessory work based on the unique needs of your body.
We add in isometrics and plyometrics because we actually want some level of stiffness. Stiffer muscles transfer elastic energy better - protecting your joints and efficiently powering you through your stride.
Don't just go through the motions, make it INTENTIONAL.
Below is a sample workout from Week 7 of my RUN Mom Strong Mentorship. The two main workouts each week are broken down into Quad Dominant/Upper Body Push (below) and Hinge Dominant/Upper Body Pull (not shown) to effectively train the full body.
*Warm up not shown
Work through this as a circuit. 10 reps per set, 2 sets.
Superset: 8 reps per set, 3-4 sets.
Superset: 10 reps per set, 3 sets.
Again this is a set of workouts from Week 7 of my RUN Mom Strong Mentorship. We’ve worked up to these exercises (especially the impact work) intentionally, week after week.
It’s important to note, that by this time in the mentorship, not all of the mentees will be doing this exact workout, especially when it comes to the accessory work. Through a series of assessments that we’ll go through in the first week and the education provided on our coaching calls, you’ll be able to tailor these workouts exactly to the needs of your unique body!
Train to RUN and train the runnER.
Get to know the real needs of YOUR body! That’s where the magic happens!