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August 11, 2015

How to Get Faster and Stronger When Not Running

Kate Grace

As people reading these blogs know, I sustained a foot injury in February, and was variously immobilized for two months (healing tendons sucks).

What people may not know, I had not given up the idea of running a track season. I hate the amorphous nature of injury, the timelines that stretch or shrink depending on who you're talking to, what image they see. I am stubborn, and I wasn't taking "you can't" for an answer. Plus, I work best with immediate, defined goals. The idea that it could be a year before a track race was too much. I knew that if I was to do all the PT work to rehab my foot, I had an opportunity to get the rest of my body stronger and more prepared for training than ever before. But, that was only going to happen if there was actually a race on the calendar. Because let's be real, PT without reward sucks.

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Love this shot from NorCal Distance

I posed the hypothetical to Jay Dicharry... do you think I could get strong enough to run an 800 at nationals (at that point, it was 9 or 10 weeks away)? I had the standard from the previous year, I could have a place on the start line in a prelim, but I wanted to actually be able to  walk up there feeling competitive.

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Background on Jay - he is a physical therapist and biomechanical expert in Bend. I met Jay in 2013, as he was preparing Ironman champion, Linsey Corbin, for the World Championships. She was coming off a foot injury. Off of almost no mileage, and following his strength and plyo program, she ran a sub 3 hour marathon at the end of an Ironman.

His formula is simple:

  • Strengthen the core 
  • Heavy lifting 
  • Hop

This is auxiliary work any runner should be doing anyway (and you've probably read Runner's World articles about it). The strong core holds everything in alignment, reduces unnecessary movement. Lifting builds the major muscles needed for running, especially important when you can't get that development in workouts. And hops. That's his term for plyo work. Basically, strengthening the small structural and neuromuscular systems that go into that series of one legged hops we call running.

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I followed his program religiously for the next 8 weeks. Lift Hop Core. Lift Hop Core. This was supposed to be my comeback story. While I kept the run at nationals goal until literally the day before entries were due, I also knew that running on a track was a risk not worth taking. The trick to get myself back running had caused its own demise, I had worked too hard to warrant re-injury. So, the big reveal didn't happen. But, two things I learned along the way:

  • PT may suck, but it works. I have never felt so quick on strides, and so smooth in my form.
  • The value of passionate dedication to short term goals.

What next? I prepped my body to run, and have started running. Now, it's time to put in the work. Don't worry, I have another secret 8 week goal to motivate me on that one. ;)

ADDENDUM
For those interested, the layout of the Lift Hop Core program. I did this and with some variations for 6 weeks. I started it when just walking, 40-50 minutes on the lift days. When I began runs, those were on the hop days, after the plyo work. It's generally a good program for getting strong when running minimally. If you aren't running because of an injury, get professional advice.

SCHEDULE
Monday: Lift + Core 1
Tuesday: Hop + Core 2
Wednesday: Lift + Core 1
Thursday: Hop + Core 2
Friday: Lift + Core 1
Satruday: Hop + Core 2
Sunday: Rest

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Excercise above: single leg raise

LIFT
Single Leg DL 2x8
Deadlift (DL) 3x6
Front squat 3x6
Hip Thrust 3x12
Pull-ups 3x10
Push-ups 3x12

clamshell.jpg

Excercise above: clam shell

HOP
Quick feet up/down on step - 3x60 seconds (s)
Jump Rope - 3x45s
Single leg lateral hops (stick landing) - 10 each foot
Med ball squat to granny throw - 20
Jumping Jacks - 40
Skips - 10 each leg

hip-thrust.jpg

Excercise above: hip thrust

CORE 1
50 clam shell
15 roll outs (with ab roller tool)
50 clam other side
15 roll outs
3x10 single leg hip raise (starting from bridge position)
2x30s single leg balance on bosu (stand on flat)
3x6 single leg pistol squat bosu (with TRX help)

CORE 2
3x45s plank with feet on swiss ball
3x30s kneeling on swiss ball (balance)
3x10 hamstring curls, feet on swiss ball
3x10 hip ab and add on swiss ball
2x15 swiss ball pikes
2x15 swiss ball jackknifes

Tweet me at @fastk8 with questions. Good luck!

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Comments

Lory Ioppolo | August 11, 2015 at 6:18pm

Great read

This is so great. Thank you so much. This has encouraged me more than you know. Keep it up.

Luisa | August 11, 2015 at 9:53pm

I'm sorry about your injury,

I'm sorry about your injury, but how awesome you focused on strengthening your body to bring your A game. Looking forward to the revelation of your secret. Oh, and thank you for the Lift, Core, Hop workouts.

Tim Sinnett | August 12, 2015 at 10:38am

Good stuff, Kate!

Thanks for sharing this with the running world, Kate! As you mentioned, it is so important that runners do this type of work all of the time, but its value really shows when you are doing it exclusively. Strength/stabilization work, with some alternative aerobic conditioning, can carry people quite a ways across the river of injury.

Sara | September 16, 2015 at 12:38pm

thank you!

I was diagnosed with a stress reaction in mid-July. I started this little program about 2 weeks after the diagnosis and I've been running for 5 weeks now. I've never felt stronger and I'm running even faster than I was pre-injury. I've kept up doing these workouts or variations of them since running again; 2 days hop/core, 2 days strength/core, 2 days yoga/the dozen...thank you Kate and Oiselle for helping a sister nurse a broken wing and FLY!