The subject of training for specific distance in running is not as simple or “obvious” as it might seem. Whereas doing sprints while getting ready for 100m seems logical and reasonable, just because you’re preparing to run a marathon, doesn’t mean you should run one during training. I’m often told that it is counterintuitive but we’ll have to agree to disagree, besides it is never specified whose intuition is being used here as a standard. My own experience of over 40 years as an athlete first and then as a coach, my intuition, my understanding of this topic as a scientist and teacher, all make me follow the logic dictated by the processes involved, processes that I see, processes that inevitably lead to certain conclusions and approaches.
Training overall is a delicate process and requires much thought and preparation, and work. Training for a specific distance adds a layer of difficulty. It is crazy to expect such effort from anyone who is not training on a professional level. However, a bit of effort will go a long way, so in my articles I attempt to present such information in the simplest form possible to help you protect yourself from injuries and wandering off in the wrong direction. While some experimentation is healthy and can be fun, some of the uneducated guesses can carry heavy financial and health costs.
What is the Goal of Racing?
What is your final goal when you enter a race? Any race, no matter the distance? Simply put, the final goal of anyone running any race is to attempt to run that specific distance with a good resulting time, or at least faster than before. Even those that enter to merely ‘finish’, as they say, are still pressured by certain time constraints. The rules are (and they are clearly understood) that if you don’t finish within a specific time frame than you won’t get the finisher medal and instead will get the dreaded ‘DNF’. So as you see, even at the recreational level of racing, it is still a race and a question of speed.
However, simply running more miles will not make anybody a better or faster runner. Specific training will. That applies to sprinters as much as to marathoners and everyone else.
What is the Goal of Training?
Simply put, the goal is to be able to run a specific distance on a specific date. Preferably faster than last time. Maybe faster than a bunch of other people that will also be racing.
What is a Common Approach to Training?
Diluted by folklore, training process has become a foggy scenario where recreational runners obtain some numbers from someone who called those numbers a “training plan” and proceed to follow half heartedly that plan while missing some days, skipping some stuff, etc. The emphasis in such training is often put on running and running and running. I’m sorry to disappoint you but this is not a ‘10,000 hour’ thing, and even the 10,000 hours are not a real thing, so what is this idea of running and running and running? This is an oversimplified picture but it summarizes the confusion.
A common approach to training clearly shows the common opinion of what training is – a repetitive experience of doing. Doing something. A rather popular belief or an assumption that during training a runner should run the very distance he or she is training for has no scientific foundation. It is suggested that it helps prepare the athlete for the given distance by letting him/her “experience the load”.
The reality, however, is that every one of us can run any given distance, whether it’s 100m or a marathon. The only true question is – who can do it faster and incur less damage in the process?
The “experience” mentioned earlier is purely a psychological tactic to feel more secure and confident. There is no scientific basis there, no significant physiological advantage and there are better ways to get that feeling of confidence like, for example, improving technique. However, this psychological tactic has a strong potential to cause a lot of physical damage. If you’re attempting to train for a marathon by simply running and running, what you’re really doing is robbing yourself of progress, plus getting a little more and more of “wear and tear” with every pointless long slow run. Every such run has a potential of a serious injury besides not only being unproductive, but what’s more – being counterproductive.
What is a Better Approach to Training?
There are certain things about our body and mind, our personal energy level and perception that are not common knowledge among athletes and coaches, and especially recreational ones. Add to that hierarchical relations between combinations of short, middle and long distances used in training, and relations between speed and endurance and at this point you should be able to see how complex real training is. If those important aspects are not taken into consideration when training is being planned then it shouldn’t be called training and no particular or successful results should be expected.
One of the founding fathers of athletics in Soviet Union, Nicholai Ozolin, wrote in 1949: “Speed is the foundation of endurance.” While this is not widely accepted or even understood yet, the statement made all these years ago is pretty much the jackpot. The athlete/coach that understands it, gets the keys to the gates, i.e. to faster running on long distances.
In order for your training to be effective, whatever the distance, everything you do has to be aimed at the main event – a particular distance on a particular day. While it is simple to have a goal – the date of the race – it is far from simple or easy to figure out what needs to be done in order to get to that date and reach the goal.
Regardless of the distance you’re training for, the bulk of your training process should be focused on developing and maintaining proper form and your body should have the necessary level of strength developed. That alone will serve as a ‘life-saving’ foundation for your performance level. Additionally, you should dedicate your attention to developing speed.
Using the above mentioned as a foundation you can achieve solid progress or at the very least – stability. The better your technique, the longer you can keep on running. When selecting a race to participate in, remember, that whether it is a 5K or marathon – you can do it.
Proper training regimen and planning will prepare you for the race and save you from overtraining and injuries. A really good training program, along with a knowledgeable coach, will help reveal your full potential. In the absence of a coach, my new app or web based training plans might be what you’re looking for. Try them. It is build on the principles I described in this article. The best part is that you don’t need to wonder or guess – simply type in your data and follow the prompts.
$10/month Training Plans by Dr. Romanov for Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
$9.99/month Training Programs by Dr. Romanov for Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
Your training program is one of the most important parts of your training regimen. Training process is a very individual thing and, as logic follows, training programs are always very individual masterpieces. Or, at least, they should be.
So what is a training program? A training program is a specific structure of volume, intensity and exercise used in training, distributed over days and weeks of the cycle, allowing to achieve cumulative effect at the end of the cycle in a selected direction (exercise, distance, event). A knowledgeable and experienced coach can skillfully lead his/her athlete to a better performance level, better health, better results and a longer career in sports. Majority of people, however, do not have the luxury of working with a professional coach and are left to make training decisions on their own.
Obtaining a good training plan is one of those decisions and choosing the right training program, or at least finding a legitimate one, is not the easiest of tasks.
- How do you decide what should be in your training plan?
- How do you judge the quality of an available training program and its effectiveness?
There are no simple questions here and there are no simple answers. However, there a few golden rules that serve as a foundation for all proper and effective training programs and in the absence of a coach, keeping these basics in mind will help you make better choices and eventually get better results.
It should go without saying that any training regimen simply must include technique work of your chosen sport. Whether you’re running, swimming or cycling – you must regularly do technique drills. Sports like football, basketball or baseball, however, would require technique work for running AND throwing. If that was done right, there would not be so many ankle, knee & shoulder injuries. Your biggest improvement and progress will be the result of your technique work. It is a gateway that allows you to unlock your full potential. You might be built for speed or endurance but if you’re constantly injured you’re not going too far or too fast.
Here are 5 golden rules that will help you stay on the right track.
1. Training Program Must Have a Proper Duration + a Sufficient Number of Rest Days
Majority of people start looking for a training program when they decide to enter a race. Others want a training plan to simply have a good regimen to follow to stay fit instead of doing something on some days hoping to get some kind of effect. So you will need to decide what your goal is and then figure out the time frame that it gives you. If you’re working with a particular target date – your training plan should be aimed at that date locking you into a certain time frame and giving you a particular number of days/weeks/months to achieve your goal. Your entire plan – its structure, volume and type of training involved should be based around that main event.
It is also important to keep in mind, that training doesn’t mean doing something all the time. There has to be a proper balance between your training and rest days. Too much action and not enough rest time is a bad formula and is a one way ticket to exhaustion. Majority of people do well with 3-4 days of training a week, some professional athletes need up to 7 days of training per week and sometimes twice a day. Whatever number of days you train right now, if you experience any of the signs listed in this article – reduce your training volume right-away, you’re overtraining.
2. Training Program Must Have a Warm Up & Cool Down
Any good training session starts with a warm up. It’s an important part of the overall training process and is a necessity, it cannot be treated as an option. It is smart to start with a warm up and get your body and mind ready for a good focused effort. Obviously it only makes sense to wrap up with a cool down to let yourself get back to normal, to let all your systems slowly adjust. Cooling down part of training is a very good time to do some flexibility, by the way. A training program without a cool down part is not a complete training program.
3. Training Program Must Have Speed Work
All improvement in running training has to do with running the same distance faster than before. While running longer and at a slower pace has its limited purpose sometimes, it won’t improve your performance or run time when preparing for a race and it should never be the foundation of your training program. Speed work is essential if you hope to run your next long distance race faster. And isn’t that the purpose of the entire exercise?
4. Training Program Must Have Strength & Flexibility Included
These are not fashionable or trendy things that were popular last summer. These must be included in training regimen on regular basis. Without adequate and proper strength developed you will be subjected to injuries and mediocre performance. Developing and maintaining flexibility helps extremely well in achieving better performance results also. Work on your technique, strength and flexibility should be regular and balanced, but with emphasis on technique.
5. Training Program Must be Updated Regularly
A lot can happen in just one week of training and whatever it is, it will require an adjustment to your training regimen. It is recommended to review the original training schedule against the actual training done and results accomplished, and then implement changes on weekly basis to achieve best results. This is one of the most difficult parts of working with training programs and I recommend doing it with a coach, but you could also try to make your own adjustments and switch around some numbers, repetitions, etc. We have a video that provides instructions on how to adjust your training program.
I would like to recommend you try my training plans that can now be ordered and downloaded online for $10/month of training. And if you would like to kick it up a notch, try my app that is now available to all iPhone users. Compared to my downloadable plans, the app allows data input after each training session so you can have a constantly updated training plan for $9.99/month.
As a rule, I always recommend training with a coach and obtaining a proper training plan whether you’re on a mission preparing for a race or not. You might just be pleasantly surprised with your results and achievements!
I see online and overhear sometimes discussions of muscles and I wonder if people participating in the discussion are conducting a scientific experiment, putting forth a hypothesis or are they participating in a theoretical discussion of human anatomy. It is so popular to throw around scientific terms and big words. However, all of that is pointless and useless unless you’re actually studying anatomy or have scientific interest in that topic. If you’re a recreational runner, an athlete of any level or a coach you don’t need to know anatomy. What you need is to know HOW to move.
‘Types’ of Knowing
Within the context of athletics and training, there are things we need to know and don’t need to know in a sense of practically useful information. It is human nature to want to know. However, just because we’re curious about various types of muscles, it doesn’t mean we need to know, or that this type of knowing will be practically helpful for performing a specific task. As a matter of fact, certain types of information prevent people from seeing the big picture. It’s ok to amass information, but it is also important to not lose sight of the correct hierarchy of things.
Knowing various types of muscle fibers or singling out various muscle groups, their structure and their function will not make a practical difference and will not make you a better athlete. If you want to be better at running, throwing, jumping, lifting, swimming, etc – what you need to know is how to do it and what specific action(s) to take to make it happen.
Ego VS Body
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our body, our muscles “know” (for the lack of a better term) what they need to do and they do it. Our problems begin when we 1) imagine that it’s possible to consciously control and 2) then insist on controlling every aspect of our body moving in space and time. Add to that the fact that most people either have zero instruction or the wrong instructions on HOW to move and it is not difficult to see the potential mess we can get into.
Here’s a fun video to provide demonstration of the speed of human reaction:
While we think about what we assume our muscles should be doing in order to move our leg this way or that way, and we think of what muscles should be firing or working – our body and its constituent parts have already not only activated the necessary parts, but most likely have already finished the job, too. The speed of our thought, no matter how fast we assume we think, is a lot slower than any interaction that naturally goes on within a human body. So, unless it is your intent to slow yourself down, think only of the action that needs to happen to promote a particular task at hand, i.e. if you want to run, think only of pulling your foot up to change support. The rest of the elements of a particular athletic activity should be worked on and brought to the level of autopilot in training sessions.
‘Big Picture’ Hierarchy
The most logical place to start the hierarchy of movement is our environment. Our movement is not a random and independent twitching of muscle fibers. Our whole body is at the mercy of natural forces that make up our world and are ruled by gravity. It holds everything together.
Gravity is the starting point.
Gravity gives us bodyweight. No gravity -> no bodyweight -> no movement. Gravity less than on Earth -> same body different weight -> dramatic changes in basic movement (Ex.: running turns into hopping)
Dr. Nicholas Romanov, founder of the Pose Method, demonstrates how our active muscle efforts are useless without the presence of body weight. How do you use your muscles when running? Have you ever been told to “fire your glutes”? In this video, watch how your muscles can be rendered useless when you can’t apply your body weight.
All muscles are equally important. We should not take our body apart – these muscles are for running, these fibers are for speed, these are for cycling, and these are for lifting, etc. This is not how it works. This confusion comes from lack of understanding of how our body operates. Each muscle and muscle group perform their own important function, and, as we can see, they are all connected. All muscles work in sync. The synchronization includes the entire body and extends all the way to our heartbeat.
Now let’s zoom out to see the big picture. Muscles, along with tendons and ligaments, hold the whole body together and provide an intricate network of mechanisms that allow movement. ‘Allow’ is the keyword. Without our bodyweight, the same network of muscles still provides the same mechanisms yet movement either does not happen at all, or looks very differently.
As far as movement is concerned, our muscles mean nothing without our bodyweight. Muscles do not create or initiate movement. Muscles play the supporting role.
There were 2 major contenders, Nike and adidas, that officially announced their efforts to achieve the sub 2 hour record. One down, 1 to go. Nike just made good on their promise to attempt to break that 2 hr mark. Results are in and there is a question. There was no information on drug testing. Can we take their word for it? Considering the result – maybe.
Let’s mention two things before we go further:
- Nike’s attempt to break the 2 hr marathon was about marketing new Nike shoes.
- This article is about marketing a scientific interest in achieving the sub 2hr marathon
- adidas’ effort is also a marketing one
And of course there is a ‘new and improved’ shoe involved and it will be available later this year. While I’m being a bit sarcastic, it must be said that we do need better and improved shoes and it’s good to have so many options and companies willing to invest so much resources into the research and development, into the production and marketing – it is no easy feat. That said, it is healthy to keep in mind what shoes can and cannot give us.
Nike’s attempt was admirable and applaudable and it was fun to watch. It takes guts and often considerable resources to make a bold statement and proceed with the project. But this specific project should have been about athletes, their talent and skill, and not the shoes. There was too much emphasis put on how these amazing shoes will provide everything but the wings, most of the articles out were focused on the shoes. But are shoes still amazing if they are placed on the feet of a runner that couldn’t deliver not because he is not good but because he was chosen for the wrong race? Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese suffered the consequences of that poor choice. According to Dr. Romanov they were not equal competition to Kipchoge. But then again, could that have been the plan?
It Didn’t Happen Because…
To all the hopeful marathon fanatics out there – it is possible and we might see it sooner rather than later! Here’s the reality that we are working with – there are currently around 180-200 athletes in the world (based on officially published data and footage) that are physically capable of achieving this breakthrough. A smaller group from that couple of hundred runners could actually do it. So there it is – it can happen!
But it didn’t happen this time, and essentially it can all be narrowed down to this:
- There was no attention given to improving technique, no psychological training and zero focus on perception – things that are at the heart of athletic excellence
- There was lopsided emphasis on physiology – something that’s predetermined by genes and cannot be changed. Elite runners are elite because they are already on another level, they were born this way (Lady Gaga is smiling somewhere now).
- There was focus on economy and efficiency – things that are the outcomes, the results of the combination of the above mentioned, but how do you improve the result without improving factors that produce that result?
- There was too much pinned on the benefits of the shoes, the track, the artificially created conditions.
The Chosen Runners
First thing is first – according to Dr. Romanov’s calculations based on publicly available data and footage, only one of the selected three had a fighting chance – Eliud Kipchoge. If you look at their statistics, the numbers show that Desisa and Tadese shouldn’t have been expected to break 2 hrs. Kipchoge displayed a better focus all the way to the finish line.
There is a number of athletes that could’ve been and should’ve been selected in their place, but I guess it’s understandable that since this is a Nike project, the pool of athletes was limited to those sponsored by Nike. And here’s your problem #1 with this project. Yes it’s understandable but, again, it points to business and marketing, when it should be about a scientific pursuit of excellence in athletics that is not strangled by brands and their investments. It would have been a more progressive approach to invite other brands and their sponsored athletes to participate and work out the scope of involvement.
The Running Shoes
This project was about these new shoes and it can now serve as a good example of the limits of any shoe. After all that considerable investment and all this intellectual investment into the intricate design of these shoes – the shoes made no significant difference. Actually they made no difference at all. I was hoping that we’ll see a “belief” factor at play but no. The athletes either didn’t believe at all that the shoes would make them faster or did believe and yet it made no difference. Either way – fail. But they will be available, correction – their less appealing general public version – will be available this summer for $250 and I’m sure sales will do just fine regardless.
The Running Conditions
Some excited celebrities went as far as to compare this project to placing a man on the moon. Ah…. no. Nothing like it. If only because these guys going in the outer space do not have an armada of ships in front of them to protect them from occasional debris, nor do they have pacing ships, etc.
There is nothing exciting about this artificial setup. It is nothing like the real deal. Even the shoes were “designed specifically to suit the exact surface and conditions of the Formula One race track in Monza, Italy” where the athletes made their sub-two attempt. Wow, stop the presses, are you kidding me? I’m sorry, what was the point of this attempt again? Right – selling shoes.
The Work Ahead
And there is plenty. But no it doesn’t involve specially created shoes, windless artificial environments, breathing masks, etc. Before there can be real benefit derived from these, there must be a solid foundation that involves better training, better coaching, better understanding of what complete training process involves and how to create better training regimen in order to groom a champion and not just rely on his or hers talent. Too many athletes break down at a very young age without ever realizing their potential. Too many peak and fade away well ahead of their time.
Hopefully, adidas will step up their game having now witnessed what Nike’s attempt produced but considering they’ve already been at it for a while it is doubtful any changes that could yield significant results can be made in time for their public attempt.
In order for any runner to break through to another level, they must understand that it can only happen if they improve their perception and technique. There are limits on many things but these two areas have no limits.
That ‘zone’ that everyone knows about, that elite athletes write about in their memoirs, where they effortlessly set world records but it just happened, they couldn’t do it voluntarily afterwards. That zone, that special state is achieved by improving perception. Of course, being on elite level their perception is already way above an average runner, but compared to physiological aspects, perception has layer upon layer of levels and can be continuously improved. Similarly, technique can continuously be fine tuned. Technique is that gateway that either prevents an athlete from expressing his or hers full potential and hinders natural abilities, or provides the best outlet for the best expression possible and we all benefit – we get to bask in the glory of magnificent athletic achievement.
This process of developing perception and improving technique is incredibly fascinating and is a never-ending source of personal discoveries and continuous progress and growth. But many just hammer away those miles.
Food For Thought
Sometimes I wonder, what if while we are passionately discussing this and arguing over what’s possible, there is a person somewhere out there that quietly runs a 1:55 marathon once a week because it’s a fun thing to do. But we don’t know about it because that person didn’t enter a race and nobody is there to clock that breathtaking event. If nobody witnesses the event – does it change history?
According to Dr. Romanov if we take our terrestrial gravity, other forces, body and mind into account, it is possible to run a 1hr 27 min marathon. But chances are it will take us a long while to get there, like another 200+ years… Unless we are willing to switch the focus off the shoes and onto the things that really make a difference!
In the noise of discussions and debates about technique, one of the most vital aspects of training for runners always gets lost – strength conditioning. It is so important that I can not emphasize it strongly enough. Lack of adequate strength is a sure road to underperformance and injuries. Lucky for us, while building strength we can also assist our recovery if already injured (so a specifically designed strength training routine can easily be used for rehab), we can definitely improve our racing times and keep on improving overall. It’s a chain reaction – doing the right thing, the right exercises helps you to feel better physically, gets you better results, that in turn makes you happy, and, you want and, most importantly, can run more and for longer and go further.
The Most Important Exercise
If there was one exercise I would recommend – it’s this one. My team calls it hip-dips, I call it strength conditioning exercise for hips. It’s actually one of about 65 strength conditioning exercise for hips for hips that I described in the original Pose Method of Running book. In our video series we used the essential and easily doable ones, but if you have time and desire for more exercises and various versions of the hip dips, then get the book and you can make up your own strength routine, as well as create routines of different levels of difficulty.
It’s a simple exercise but I’ve seen so many ways it was done that I feel obligated to describe how to do it correctly.
- Get into a position as if you’re preparing for push ups. Make sure it’s an even non-slippery surface.
- Make sure to place your hands on the floor right under your body shoulder width apart in order to support your bodyweight correctly.
- Shoes on or off, place your feet as you normally would for push ups, at least a foot apart to keep balance.
- Keep your arms extended but do not lock your elbows or shoulders.
- Move your hips. This is key. Don’t actively move anything else. Let the limbs change position in response to hips leading the movement.
- Do 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps
I don’t like to single out exercises or create the ‘top 5’ lists, but given the time constraints of our daily lives, if I could point out anything and help you to correctly allot your time, then I’m glad to do it.
Running Specific Strength
As I always point out, strength training for runners is not your regular strength training. While some parts of general strength training are, without a doubt, great for runners and all types of athletes, and regular people, there is a whole lot of strength exercises that are specific and important for runners.
Our general strength gets a very minor boost (but it’s something at least) on daily basis when we go about doing our daily tasks – going upstairs or downstairs, sitting down or getting up, etc. Unfortunately that is not enough to create or maintain the level of strength conditioning necessary for a decent running experience. I often see runners training and ignoring the very exercises that would mean everything to their improvement and if they would just swap a whole lot of ‘other’ exercises for the running specific strength exercises, their training would become more effective right away.
I developed these hip strength exercises back in the 70s-80s when training and teaching my athletes at the University. Through the years of working with athletes of various levels and backgrounds I’ve seen enough confirmation of the importance of hip strength. Of course, it is important for all athletes for obvious reasons, but no other group than runners could benefit more from paying special attention to strength training and developing hips strength in general. For years runners have neglected what is a common practice for all other sports and that was one of the biggest contributing factors to creating the epidemic of injuries that we are facing today.
Hips are part of your core, but I prefer to specifically refer to and highlight the hips due to a very common misconception that the term core refers to abs and low back muscle groups only. Your core includes your hips. Hips are the biomechanical center of your body. That is as core as it gets.
Why It’s Important
The importance of these exercises is in the fact that hips and their well being, so to say, affects the integrated movement of the whole body. While hips by no means carry any power to propel you anywhere, their stability and strength do provide the path for mechanical flow through the body during the support and flight phases. Strong hips almost literally equal better running experience. Add proper technique in that mix and you’re flying.
Stronger hips will also serve as a preventative measure to ward off lower back problems. And as it usually goes, there is a chain reaction effect there as well. Stronger hips will help to maintain the proper running pose which in turn will help with an entire list of common running related injuries that stem from inability to maintain the running pose. We are talking about knee injuries, shin splints, hamstring injuries and on and on.
As you see, this area of your ‘runner’s body’ justifies proper attention and if you only have 5 minutes today – do the hip dips and enjoy your running.
From my own experience I know that very often small yet very important elements of the training session structure, that is, the beginning, which is called warm-up, and the end, which is called cool-down, are ignored and neglected by majority of runners. Reasons (or we may say ‘excuses’) given for this are always numerous: from efforts to save time to just admitting plain neglect. In general, the attitude towards those parts of the training session is as if neither carry any significance so why bother. That’s a mistake. But then again, it’s only a matter of personal responsibility. If you think you don’t owe it to yourself to do things the right way and not the lazy way, then what can I say.
So, what kind of role does the warm-up play in the training session? The answer is obvious – to warm-up the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and, here’s the part that not many consider- to prepare the nervous and cardiorespiratory systems for the specific workout. Normally an athlete would spend (depending on the upcoming workout, outside temperature and his/her own body condition) somewhere between 5 to 30 min on this task.
Warm-up should consist of all blocks of preparation:
- mental and
In Pose Method we use specific running technique drills to get the body into the right biomechanical structure of movement. Those drills also serve as a psychological and mental tune-up for the upcoming workout. Be mindful when following this progression. All these parts should be performed on a conscious level with an understanding of why we are doing it. It is foolish to train, or do anything for that matter, under the assumption that mindless motions of doing something will give you the results you’re looking for.
If you normally train by yourself and run alone, simply make sure to structure your sessions so you cover the above mentioned aspects. However if you train in a group and/or do group running sessions, make sure to set time aside for yourself to maximize your results. You can (emphasis on can) manage your busy schedule, keep your group runs and enjoy the social aspect of running. A little bit of effort and discipline goes a long way.
Here’s a good warm-up set of drills and exercises for a session that can become your regular practice. To put together a more extensive session, refer to the vast collection available in the original book The Pose Method of Running if you have it, and the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running resource.
- Warm-up is about getting ready for the training session
- Make it simple, quick but get your mind into it completely.
- Emphasis on drills and elasticity exercises.
We should not do flexibility exercises in the warm-up part of the training session too often. That should be mostly saved for after the workout, for the cool-down part of the training session or for a separate training session altogether. But sometimes it is needed in which case make sure to do a warm-up flexibility routine before the actual warm-up and always keep your focus on moving your joints instead of stretching your muscles. Intentionally stretching your muscles is not a good idea. Muscles will do what they need to do when you focus on simply bending your joints. Correct intent and focus produce correct outcome.
The cool-down part of the training session has its own specific role as the process that should return your body to its normal condition, including its biomechanical, physiological, psychological, mental and spiritual conditions. When your training is done, it is very important to return all the “blocks” and levels of the body to their norm. This means recovering muscle strength, relaxation, tone, your technique and coordination, and proper perception of movement, and of course your mental state, emotional and psychological conditions.
So, cool-down is a multidimensional set of exercises and should be treated as seriously as the main part of the training session. Time-wise this part is not time consuming similar to the warm-up, but it could be a little longer if needed, because returning to the norm could be a more demanding process than getting going. There are more chances here to lose technique, perception, proper muscle condition and mental focus. So it’s a good idea to give more time to this part of your training session.
In the Pose Method we, again, use special running drills for cool-down with the purpose of recovering the specific conditions related to running technique and our focus should be on the main elements of running. But through these exercises we must also return our body’s strength condition, unless you want to wobble around on shaky legs for the next day or two. So, we additionally use special regimes of strength exercises to recover muscle tone & strength, tendon and ligament elasticity and coordination.
If the main workout was difficult with a load on the cardiorespiratory system, then we must use a light run (we are talking about a mile maximum for the majority of us) to recover these systems to the norm. Keep your eye on your form, just because it’s a light run to recover it does not mean you can drag your feet behind you.
Another thing to keep in mind about the cool-down is that it is not only the final part of your current training session, but it is also your preparation for the future training session, and that requires your mental and psychological focus and effort. Training is a non-stop process of moving from one training session to another.
- Cool-down is about recovery
- Make it longer than warm-up
- Emphasis on strength exercises (lighter load, less reps)
- Wrap up with a flexibility routine (focus on moving your joints)
So, these seemingly simple parts of training, as you see, are not so simple at all, and they require your full attention and skill development, as any other part of your training. Start from this point and consciously build up your understanding of the deep meaning of these parts of your training process and it will take you to the next level of your training. I guarantee that. Enjoy this process of self-discovery and the newly found excitement that it will undoubtedly bring.
DR. NICHOLAS ROMANOV
A world-renowned sports scientist, Olympic coach and bestselling author Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®.
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