Why We Need to Stop Running and Start Training
It was a 32 km long run with a bad finish. My left calf was knotted up and I was noticeably limping. With only a few weeks towards my goal race, I was in a precarious balance between recovering my muscle while fighting to keep my conditioning up – that’s when the running had to stop and the training had to start.
I replaced my next long run with a couple of first-time spinning class sessions. I was excited at the novelty of trying something new and my calf fully endorsed the workout.
I felt great.
I also felt relieved at discovering the wisdom that so many had shared with me beforehand: that as runners, we cannot just run – we also need to train.
As my calf began to recover, the crew at Nike Toronto invited me out to learn how elite track and field athletes train to up their game. The timing was perfect so I leapt right in eager to learn more about becoming a better running athlete.
Whole body running
The workout was broken down into two halfs: a running workout and a training workout.
The running regimen was lead by Nike+ Run Club – Toronto Head Coach, Rejean Chiasson but the run wasn’t just a run. We did abdominal Vs and then we ran. We did push ups and then we ran. We did burpees and then we ran. And when we ran, we did intervals. And more intervals. And more intervals.
What was great about this workout, however, was that it worked our whole body and not just our legs. My tepid upper body (try not to laugh) was engaged and I could feel more balance in my running as my well-hidden core was working.
Training to break plateaus
We then switched to our training workout where we received some great insight from Canada Athletics Head Coach, Jeff Huntoon. We learned that in order to become a better runner, we needed to “train the overall athlete.” From his experience with elite and Olympic athletes, Jeff reinforced that having “diversity in workouts is a good way to get athletes through plateaus.”
Hold on there.
So if a runner (a.k.a. “me”) is having difficulty in cracking his or her next Personal Best, then training is a way to get to that next level. So training isn’t just a good option for working around injuries, it’s a necessary add-on to enhance running performance – time for me to do some training then.
The feel good burn of diversity
The second half of our workout was lead by Nike Master Trainer, Eva Redpath and she pushed us through multiple workout circuits to eek out all of our hidden muscles (well, mine anyway). We crossed over mini hurdles, did TRX atomic push-ups, and snapped our hips as we threw medicine balls. Having a master trainer helped to keep us motivated, made sure that we (i.e. me) didn’t get stuck in the equipment, while correcting our form in order to get the maximum benefits from the exercises.
With running, I can just keep going and not have to think twice about what I’m doing. With training, my whole mind and body was engaged as I thought about proper form and how many reps I was doing. I really enjoyed diversifying my workout and the new burn that came out of it.
From runners to trainers
One of the other neat elements of the workout was that Nike allowed us to trial a different pair of shoes for the running portion versus the training portion.
The running workout featured the Nike Free RN Flyknit that incorporates an outsole pattern that expands and contracts in two directions to mimic the way our feet would splay and contract through a running stride. The grooves of the shoe act as a piston while varying densities of foam provide more of that natural feel that the Frees are known for.
One of my key learnings from this session was that you can make a training shoe into a running shoe but you cannot make a running shoe into a training shoe. Running shoes are designed with an emphasis on forward motion. Training shoes, however, provide you with greater support and stability for all the directions you need to move for a workout.
As I slipped on the Nike Free Train Force Flyknit, I could feel its locked down fit right away. The Flyknit upper extended up to my ankle for greater security while the flat midsole provided multi-directional agility. Greater foam cushioning provided a secure base for standing-still exercises where we had to life. These shoes certainly helped me to feel much more confident in executing these new training exercises.
Changing it up for the better
My foray into training has been both a positive and a sore one. Training has helped this runner to work around injury but it has also coaxed out underlying muscles that will make me a better runner. If you’re in the Toronto area, I’d encourage you to sign up with Nike Toronto to join both their running and training events (and to try on the right pair of shoes while you’re at it).
Training to break the next plateau,
April 10th, 2016