In 2014, personal trainer, Tim Kelly, offered to train a new runner for the Run for the Woods 5K. Jordon Nyberg volunteered and wrote a wonderful blog titled Training for the Trails (http://trainingforthetrails.weebly.com). Listed below are selections from her blog. Check out the entire blog for a fun read. Also, download the Trail Running Gear Guide provided by Fleet Feet of West Hartford.
We started with some foam rolling. For those of you who don't know, a foam roller is a large foam tube that you can use to massage practically every muscle in your body by gently rolling back and forth on top of it.
[Picture] Some gentle rolling of the ankles, calves, hamstrings, and back were all I needed to get loosened up for our warm-up run. 5 minutes on the treadmill. Coach Tim encouraged me to always run with at least a 1% incline on the treadmill—something I'd never done before. He says that even an incline that small can help with hills and trails. Great tip!
Next up was a little strength training. Coach Tim says that "Strength is the foundation for becoming a better runner." I've done strength training before, but have backed off a little since I started running. Knowing now how much it will help me, I'm definitely going to go back to doing it more often!
We started with walking lunges, which are considered one of the best lower body exercises for runners. They really target the glutes, which will give you more power when you need it on long runs. You can add weight to the lunges by holding a bar or exercise ball over your head and can make them more complex with presses and calf raises in between.
Next up were lateral step-ups. With one foot on a stair or platform, you use your other foot to step slightly out and to the back to touch the floor, making sure to not let your bending knee go over your toes. This helps strengthen your abductor muscle group. I could really tell during this exercise that one side was weaker than the other. Going to have to work on that!
Romanian dead lifts were next. These work to strengthen your hamstrings. Trying to describe this in words alone might be a little difficult, so I will direct your attention to this YouTube video that gives a good demonstration of Romanian dead lifts. Give them a try! You will definitely feel this one the next day—I'm speaking from experience right now!!
Last up were reverse fly and row exercises. These will work to strengthen my rear shoulder, upper back, lat and core muscles, which will all help in becoming a stronger runner.
Lastly, we finished the session with a quick 1-mile run, but outside this time. I did end up having to walk twice because my ankle was hurting, but we had one awesome push up a hill in the center of town that was a lot of fun! There is a weird sense of pride that comes with running on a street full of restaurants with huge windows and everyone watching you burn calories as they're chowing down on pancakes.
One thing I noticed during our last run was how mine and Coach Tim's breathing differed. Mine was more...how you say...frantic. Haha! This is one thing I'm really going to be working on over the next few weeks.
**In through the nose, out through the mouth**
On Sunday Coach Tim and I met up at Camp Sloper in Southington. We started with some dynamic stretching.
Now, a quick note on dynamic vs. static stretching. Dynamic stretches are designed to take a joint or a muscle through a challenging and repetitive motion, moving a body part further with each repetition. Dynamic stretching will help reduce stiffness prior to starting a run and ideal prior to exercise to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation. Static stretches are sustained stretches where you hold a position for a period of 30-60 seconds. The focus is on relaxing the body part being stretched and letting it go further on its own. Static stretches are said to increase flexibility in the tissue. It is said that if static stretches are done prior to activity, it may actually inhibit the muscle’s ability to fire. [Info from New Runner.]
With that in mind, Coach Tim showed me some dynamic stretches. We did walking lunges with upper body twists, big over-exaggerated skips, grapevines as well as a few others. I'll definitely be incorporating these into my pre-workout routine from here on out.
After the dynamic stretching we set out to do two loops of the pond at Camp Sloper - approx. 2 miles. I'd say we did pretty well, considering I was on a very strict schedule on Saturday due to a bridal shower I was attending that afternoon and we only had about :30 to get everything in.
Coach Tim reminded me throughout our run that with trail running you always have to be thinking two steps ahead. You can't zone out like you might do on a treadmill because there are always rocks, hills, and roots coming up ahead that you need to avoid. Great tip!!
When Coach Tim arrived, we moved back to the track with the football players. It was slightly awkward, but not too bad. We did four sets of 600m runs (with a few stops to walk due to my breathing issues) followed by some agility work.
[Picture] Agility work is very important for trail running, according to Coach Tim. When you're road running, the obstacles you encounter are few and far between (except for maybe roadkill—ew!!). But, that is not the case with trail running. You're always dodging rocks and roots or moving from side to side to find the best path to take. So, working on agility is going to be a big help when preparing for trail races.
When our runs were done, Coach Tim took off to "go get the ladder." I had no idea what to expect and totally thought that he'd come back with one of those big metal house ladders! Haha! Boy was I wrong! This agility ladder is super-cool! It folds up nicely and can be taken anywhere.
Now, describing some of the drills we did would be rather confusing, so I've tracked down a YouTube video of a personal trainer going over ladder drills—he breaks them down slowly, which is very helpful! While looking for this video, I found one that was more representative of what we did this week, but the woman in the video was rather scantily clad and the comments below were not exactly PG. Haha!
Try out some of these agility drills for yourself. You don't really even need a fancy ladder—try making your own by just laying out sticks from your yard or rope you have laying around in the basement.
He set up a circuit that included kettle bells, battle ropes (my favorite!), back extensions, squats with press-ups, weighted running, and pull-ups. We performed each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by a 20 second recovery to allow you to get to the next station. After all six stations, we got a rest for one minute. After the first full circuit, Coach Tim made some modifications to include heavier battle ropes and a heavier kettle bell for me—ugh, thanks (I say that as sarcastically as humanly possible).
We did this rotation of six exercises three times followed by some resistance band work and abs. This took us to the 30 minute mark, but Coach Tim wasn't done!
He followed our circuit with 800m on the rowing machine, 12 flights of stairs, and a quick 0.5 mile run. By that point I was pooped! I never thought I'd be so exhausted after only 45 minutes of work! The next morning I was hurting in places I didn't even know possible!