Friday, October 31, 2008

October Review & New Article

Total mileage for the month of October was 94 miles for a year total of 1014 miles! That is averaging almost exactly 100 miles/month. Not really that much when you do the math but when you divide by number of workouts I am averaging about 7.25 miles per run since January.

I recently wrote a new article for the High Desert Runner newsletter and I thought I would give my blog readers a sneak peak.

How Can I become a Faster Runner? By Karl Stutelberg, PT

Think about this mathematical formula. Speed=stride length x stride frequency. There are two simple answers: An increased stride length will increase speed and an increase in stride frequency will also increase speed. Can you do this without expending more energy? The answer is YES (with training of course). The question of “how” is a little more complicated.

You could take longer steps or take many quick steps and you will certainly run faster, but you will not be able to maintain that change in stride over a long period of time. It simply is not efficient. An excessive increase in your stride length will cause more vertical movement and therefore decrease forward propulsion. Any rotational movement can also cause more energy expenditure and thus slow you down.

A more effective method is to increase your stride length through a combination of flexibility training and strength training. This type of training will allow for greater ROM, especially in the hips, and a stronger push off with each step. Exercise physiologists have found that the most efficient runners have a stride frequency of about 180 steps per minute. Too many or too few steps will waste precious energy.

Just as important as steps per minute is time spent on the ground. During the running stride there is either one leg on the ground or no legs on the ground. This time spent with one leg on the ground includes a deceleration phase where the body is slowing down.

One of the best ways to become a faster runner is to decrease the time spent on the ground. Muscles have an elastic recoil property that allows them to contract forcefully which transfers energy quickly and maintains forward movement. The best way to train the body to respond quickly and forcefully is plyometric training. Plyometric exercises include: squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps with the goal of spending minimal time on the ground. Be mindful of the fact that you should always have an appropriate strength base before attempting plyometric exercises.

Recent studies show that plyometric training improves distance running performance by increasing running economy, meaning you can run at higher speeds with less effort. If ground contact time is improved by .01 seconds per step and you are running at 180 steps per minute, that equates to an improvement of 14.4 seconds per mile (on an 8:00 mile pace), or a 45 second improvement in 5K time, without doing any extra running. Is it possible, with consistent training and a proper strength base? I think so.

Matt Fitzgerald’s book Brain Training for Runners lists “the five characteristics of good running technique” as stiffness, compactness, ballistic action, stability, and symmetry. Plyometrics trains stiffness and ballistic action. On November 8th at 12 noon, at Valley Physical Therapy Group, Clay Patten and I will be presenting Circuit Strength Training for Runners. Come learn how to improve on the other three: compactness, stability, and symmetry through specific strength training exercises and become a faster, more efficient runner.

1 comment:

Stutelberg Family said...

Great article. You are a pretty smart guy!