Monday, March 31, 2014

Prehab, Priorities and Persistence

I had an interesting conversation the other day with one of my younger triathletes and it got me thinking that I need to not localize this learning opportunity to just one individual.  What a better way to spread the education than my blog.  The conversation went like this:

A: athlete
CB: Coach Bob

A: "Coach Bob, my leg is hurting.  Can I stop and stretch it out?"
CB: "Of course.  Is it from your cross country injury in the Fall?"
A: "Yes."
CB: "Do you feel like the coach made you run too many miles and this could have led to your injury?"
A: "Yes."
CB: "Hmm.  Are you doing any type of prehab or rehab exercises?"
A: "My PT gave me rehab exercises to do."
CB: "So, you had an injury due to running too many miles in Fall cross country then you went to see a PT to have rehab done?"
A: "Yes."
CB: "Have you been doing the rehab exercises when prescribed and more importantly, prehab exercises that target improving your imbalances?"
A: "I just don't have time with school and all."
CB: "Oh."
A: "Coach Bob, I want to run in college so bad."
CB: "How are you going to run in college if you are hurt?  College coaches won't want you on their team if you can't run."
A: "Oh, you are right."
CB: "So, you are telling me that you do not have time to do your rehab and prehab exercises because of everything else going on in your life.  Do you have time to be hurt?"

>>>proverbial light bulb goes off with a new sense of motivation>>>

A: "Oh, you are right Coach Bob."
CB: "Sometimes, you must find the few minutes in each day to take care of your body because if you don't, it won't take care of you."

This is a fairly common conversation I have with athletes but usually not young athletes.  I am seeing more and more injuries happening at a younger age and while I will not argue what I believe to be the causes, I will stress the importance of EVERY athlete spending at least 10 minutes EVERY day to initiate a few prehab exercises.  There are many reasons for this (as you can read in my new ebook if you would like) but it really comes down to two success markers: 1) priorities, and 2) persistence.

Make prehab a priority in your daily schedule.  Treat it like any other training session.  Place it on your training calendar (or tell your coach to do this) and be sure to hold it high on the priority list.  Often times, you can do a few prehab exercises when you first wake up.  You can also add some before any type of workout.  Take 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before a workout and call it good.

Secondly, you must be persistent in the implementation of prehab exercises.  Far too often I witness athletes extremely motivated for 1-2 weeks in doing these exercises but then they lose their focus, their motivation or "need" to do them.  You need to do these exercises daily, trust me.  Prehab exercises should be like brushing your teeth or taking a shower...habits already engrained into your daily routine.

Set prehab exercises as a top daily priority and be persistent in doing them.  You will find that you experience less aches and pains and will reduce the likelihood of injuries.  Do it for yourself, your performance and for your longevity in sport.

Coach Bob

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

So, you wanna run faster?

It feels like Spring time in Colorado and about this time each year, I usually have the burning question posed to me: "how can I run faster?".  I don't know if it is the time of the year when athletes are getting anxious to be outside or if it is because they are registering for races.  No matter the reason, it is true that all of us want to be faster but is it really a mystery?

First off, you must remember that "faster" is very relative and specific to each person.  Everyone has their own training program that they follow, some better than others but I am confident that I can sum up how to become a faster runner with three simple tips.  Can I oversimplify this?  Sure.  Anyone can but I don't think it is necessarily the first place to begin in your quest for speed.  Start with these tips first:

Tip #1: Form

Form matters.  It's true.  Fortunately, there is not one single running form that is the Holy Grail.  Coaches manipulate running form to improve economy (using less oxygen doing the same task) and reduce the risk of injury.  Each athlete is made differently and there is not one correct style that will guarantee increased speed.  In fact, most athletes progress through different evolutions of running form as they progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced levels.  Add to the mix any imbalances, strengths and weaknesses and there is no doubt that you will change your running form around a bit.

Don't get too bogged down with the latest running form debate.  The fact of the matter is that there is not necessarily a "right" or "wrong".  However, there are certain techniques that may or may not support your body's biomechanics, developmental level and imbalances.  Find a qualified coach who can help you discover what your running form should be at this given point in time and also, how to progress it as you develop further.

Tip #2: Consistency

This is an easy one.  As with any sport, if you want to be faster, you must be consistent in your training.  Take a peek into your training routine.  Do you often miss workouts?  Do you make excuses for not doing a workout?  I'm all for listening to the body but consistency is the name of the game.  Get a good periodization plan that supports proper development and recovery and stick with it.  The less consistent you are in your run training, the less opportunity you have to develop speed.

Tip #3: Work ethic

Don't confuse work ethic with motivation.  Work ethic covers everything from how you mentally, physically and nutritionally prepare for a workout to what you actually do during the workout.  I have a favorite saying that I share quite often with athletes: "What you put in is what you get out".  Put in 80%, get out 80%.  Want to get faster?  Develop a strong work ethic and put in 100%.  Your work ethic will help determine what you put in but that is not the end of it.

Having a great work ethic also means being able to follow your training program.  If you run session calls for aerobic efforts, then make them aerobic.  If it calls for race pace efforts, then make them race pace.  Following a training plan in detail is also a component of having a positive work ethic.  Another of my favorite sayings: "You can't just wake up and decide to be great.  You have to work to be great."  Your work ethic speaks volumes about you as a person and also as an athlete and how you will progress to obtain a better level of performance (speed).

There you have it.  Short and sweet for this blog.  Be a faster runner by developing better form, being consistent and having a solid work ethic.

Until next time...

Coach Bob