Have you been running regularly or wanting to get back into running but your body has broken down? You know, isn’t what it use to be?
You don’t get the same outcome from your efforts. Clocking in the K’s no longer provides the rush of endorphins or the feeling of being light, fit and healthy; instead you just get sore, injured and run down.
It makes the next run a little bit harder, and worse your body composition doesn’t match up to your lifestyle. “I’m being fit and healthy… why am I gaining weight… why aren’t I seeing results?”
Here’s what you need to know.
Building Your Bulletproof Runners Body
1. Why Do I Keep Getting Injured & Sore?
When you were younger you could get away with walking straight out of the door and going for an easy 3-5K run. As you get older, have injuries occur and more life stressors your body needs more TLC.
The harder your train; the more rest and recovery you need.
The problem is this isn’t simply sleeping your 8-hours a day, eating healthy and carbing up before your run; you need to apply more attention to detail to your overall training.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Are the muscles that I need for running/sport really strong and mobile enough to cope with the demands of my activity level?
- What are the standards of strength and mobility needed for someone my age doing X amount of training? Am I meeting that standard?
- What is the optimal body composition (body-fat %) for my chosen sport?
- Am I actually eating enough each day for my recovery and body composition?
- How many calories should I be eating; broken down into protein, carbs and fats?
- What are my weaknesses to rehab/strengthen so I can perform better?
- Is my body really in optimal condition (inflammation, gut health, blood work and supplements)?
When you ask yourself these questions it doesn’t become a guessing game. You find out what’s holding you back, you can train it to get better, measure and test it compared to your previous condition and then you can move on with confidence.
It’s what professional athletes do except they have coaches, exercise scientists, nutritionists and sports physiotherapists working with them around the clock so they don’t have to ask those questions themselves; they can focus on their recovery and training.
2. Strength Train to Run More Efficiently
We’re usually last resort for people when they’re wanting to get back into optimal running and athletic conditioning. Niggling injuries, body is out of whack, can’t stand it anymore and now they’re ready to take a more professional approach to their nutrition and training.
The first thing we get them to do aside from providing them direction with their nutrition is get them strength training to strengthen specifically their weaknesses and to their improve structural balance (mobility).
We see this a lot at the start – It’s what you want to avoid:
- Athletic background with a lot of running, sport or classes
- Very limited range of mobility; can’t overhead squat below parallel with broom above head
- Weak knees, adductors and can’t efficiently activate glutes
- Very weak posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back and back)
- Unstable joints when holding weights in static positions (shoulders)
You really have to ask yourself in this scenario “If I’ve been exercising and running for 3+ years and If I were to have a barbell on my back or dumbbells in my hand ready to squat or press would I be confident or would my body break down?”
If you wouldn’t be confident you’ve wasted 3+ years of training experience. The good note is that we’ve discovered some massive wins for you – assess your body and strengthen your weaknesses.
Benefit 1: Prevent Injuries
If you have your nutrition on point strength training is going to help prevent injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissue. For running this is especially important for the muscles around your knees and hips.
Benefit 2: Stretch Faster / More Efficiently
Static stretching with body-weight is rubbish; it’s relaxing but not as effective as stretching with load if you need to improve your mobility. You can do a basic hamstring stretch or you can do a 45 degree Hyperextension with load or a Romanian Deadlift with load; load will get you there faster when executed safely.
Static stretching does have its place and releasing tightness after exercise will help to bring down cortisol/stress so you can recover faster.
Benefit 3: Run Faster
You will improve your neuromuscular coordination and power; you’ll be more efficient at learning how to switch on and off the muscles that you need to when running. Think of a fast, explosive sprinter or middle distance runner; they need to be fast off the blocks and muscles continually on for a certain period of time.
Benefit 4: Less Effort, Better Running
Improves economy by requiring less energy to work. You’re fitter and stronger; your body isn’t going to require as much oxygen to do the same amount of work. It’s been conditioned through strength training.
3. Don’t Listen to the Old Strength and Weight Training Myth:
“Strength training will get me big and bulky; I’m not going to be as mobile when I run”.
Absolutely ridiculous; I’ve recently seen on Instagram an Australian women’s sprinter box squat 120kg for reps; and she’s lean AF. Actually if you follow a lot of the athletes from the Australian athletics team you will see how much food they eat and how often they implement pure strength and weight training into their regimes.
The difference between them and general population?
They don’t go out on weekend benders regularly (which can often increase the amount empty calories they’re getting in) and they fill up their nutrition with nourishing quality food. For the majority of the time they’re on point with their nutrition and training.
How people get bulky and immobile through strength training:
- Too much food (you want the right fit)
- Pro inflammatory nutrition (you’re going to be inflamed)
- Incorrect form (choosing weights over technique first)
- Training like a bodybuilder; not an athlete (programming)
- Too much food (again main cause; specifically junk)
Your main goal should be to get fitter and stronger whilst keeping your body composition optimal for your lifestyle and sporting activity (this can all be tracked and measured).
4. Eat to Get/Stay Lean and to Perform Better Simultaneously
If you’re clocking in the K’s during the week so you can feast like a king or queen with whatever you want on the weekend; you could be doing your body more harm than good. All of those nasty ingredients are not good for your recovery.
Your immune system has to spend unnecessary time fighting in order to bring inflammation down; when it could be spending that time repairing your muscles and desensitising your nervous system.
I’m not saying you can’t live a little bit but if you’re continually doing it every day and every week it’s going to catch up to you if it hasn’t already.
A better approach is to fill up your calorie and macro-nutrient goals with nutrient dense anti-inflammatory nutrition; basically food from the land or sea. Leaving 5-10% of your weekly target for “free meals”.
Step 1: Find out if you’re actually eating enough:
Compare your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) the amount of calories your body needs in a day to survive without moving compared to how many calories you’re actually consuming. Some people we see at first consult aren’t even eating enough to survive and that’s where injuries and fatigue can happen.
Step 2: Find out what’s optimal for you:
Depending on your activity level; body type and previous nutrition and training experience your own individual body is going to require a certain number of calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats).
They key here is to actually stick to it for long enough to test (usually 2-3 weeks) to see if it’s an optimal number for you. You’ll know it’s an optimal range when your energy levels increase, performance increases, body-fat levels drop and you’re overall less stressed.
Most people chop and change too early because they expect changes in 1-2 days; unfortunately our body will take some time to mix and move those nutrients within cells to get the right outcome.
5. Program to Get Your Runners Rig Strong
When starting to incorporate strength training it’s easy to get confused with what exercises you should be doing; how many reps, sets and how often should you be training. Everyone is different but what I can give you is a guide that I personally use with beginner strength training clients.
Strength training frequency: 2-3 X 60 minute sessions a week if they’re incorporating running/sport during the week.
Higher reps focusing on movement, muscle engagement and form. If you’ve been under eating a bit more volume (reps/sets) will help turn over nutrients a lot more efficiently (otherwise you’re more likely to gain body-fat). You’ll learn movements better with higher reps.
A1: Front Foot Elevated Split Squats 4 X 8-10 (Leg & Hip Mobility)
A2: Leg Curl 4 X 10-12 (Hamstring Strength)
B1: Lat Pull Down – Pronated 4 X 10-12 (Back)
B2: Incline DB Press 4 X 10-12 (Shoulder Strength & Health)
C1: 45 Deg Hyper or Cable Rope Pull Through 3 X 10-12 (Posterior Chain)
C2: Heel Elevated DB Squat 3 X 12-15 (Quad & Knee Strength)
D: Calf Raises 3 X 12-15 (Calf Strength)
Rest 60-75 seconds between exercises.
Introducing more strength (lower reps) whilst also still training to strengthen imbalances and keep body composition in check.
A: Box Squat 4 X 6-8 (Legs & Hips Movement)
B1: Walking DB Lunges 4 X 8-10 (Legs Movement)
B2: BB Hip Thrust 4 X 8-10 (Hip & Glute Strength)
C1: Neutral Grip Chin-ups 3 X 8-10 (Back)
C2: Seated Row 3 X 10-12 (Back)
D1: Trap 3 Lift 3 X 10-12 (Remedial)
D2: Sled Hip Thrust 3 X 20 (Hip Movement + Conditioning)
Rest 90-120 seconds for A’s and 60-75 for remaining exercises.
Pure performance based and training hard as training confidence is much higher and recovery is much more efficient as they’re able to take better care of their body.
A: Back Squat 5 X 3-5 (Power)
B: Rack Pull Mid-Shin 4 X 3-5 (Posterior Chain Power)
C: Split Squat 3 X 8-10
D1: 45 Degree Hyperextension 3 X 12-15 (Posterior Chain)
D2: Pronated Chin-Up Machine 3 X 12-15 (Posterior Chain)
E1: Sled Sprint 3 X Under 30 Seconds 3 X 40 (Conditioning)
E2: Calf Raises 3 X 15-20 (Calf Strength)
Rest 90-120 seconds for A & B; 60-75 seconds for remaining exercises.
6. Incorporate a De-Load to Keep Refreshed
Injury and fatigue occurs when you do too much; it’s important to rest and let your body “super compensate” to get fitter, faster and stronger. During a de-load week is when you can feel your most refreshed and strongest.
Week 1: 80% intensity (weight on the bar/strength)
Week 2: 90% intensity
Week 3: 100-110% intensity
Week 4: Half training and running load (Do 2 sets instead of 4); this is your strategic rest week
Week 5: Repeat cycle with new strength training program
It’s important to be patient and let this de-load week be your lazy week, that way you can go harder the following week and keep training long-term rather than having to keep stopping every month because you’re injured or fatigued.
Consistency over time is best.
7. Exercises to Improve Running Performance
- Split Squats (Hips, Calves, Knees and Legs)
- Peterson Step Up (Knees)
- Hyperextensions (Hips and Posterior Chain)
- Calf Raises (Achilles and Calves)
- Hip Hinges – Deadlifts (Glute Strength and Posterior Chain)
- Squat Variations (Leg Strength)
- Back Exercises – LPD/Chin-ups (Posture)
- Glute Activation
- Remedial Exercises (Posture and Shoulder Health)
To make it easy you might either choose to do 3 full body workouts or 3 split workouts (Legs, Posterior Chain and Upper). Incorporate exercises that will strengthen your weaknesses, track your performance so you can see yourself becoming more confident in the movement, fitter and stronger.
Combine this with on point nutrition and you’ll back to running and playing sport harder and faster than you ever have.
Do you need help with getting your body, strength and nutrition assessed so you can get started moving in the right direction? Our full-service personal training packages are where you work closely 1-on-1 with our trainers here in Elsternwick. We map out your training goals; track and measure your performance and get you started on your own individual training, nutrition and supplement program.
We coach you, support you, keep you accountable and do whatever is needed to help you get to your #1 goal (It’s probably why we have people from all walks of life working with us – we’re adaptable).
As everything is tailored to you and if you’re interested in finding out more, book in a consultation.