All too frequently, when focusing on running technique the main areas addressed are the biomechanics of the legs and feet, but what about the movements and use of the upper body and arms?
In my coaching experience, there are huge gains to be made for an athlete when they learn to integrate correct arm and upper body mechanics into their technique.
Its useful for individuals to strike a balance between:
– Using the arms actively to maintain rhythm and to set a steady leg cadence
– Generating power, balance and stability
– Staying relaxed and smooth
– Cutting out any excessive rotation through the torso by maintaining control of the arm swing
– Being efficient in their movements for the given pace
If you don’t believe how important your arm swing is, try this drill:
1) Jog on the spot
2) Keep your arms still by your side
Notice how much harder it is to run/balance with your arms still.
A great cue to think of when you’re running – running hard especially – is “pocket to socket”. I.e your hand should pass by your pocket, and come up toward your shoulder socket.
The added benefit of a stronger arm swing is that it adds elastic energy across your torso. With opposite arm moving with opposite leg, as they both come back you get a great store of elasticity in your muscles as your stretch from shoulder to hip. This helps give us free energy to “ping” them forward for the next stride.
Your hands and fingers can still be nice and relaxed – no need to run like a track sprinter! They can just act as the pendulum weights on the ends of your forearms.
See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for some, but for those who manage to squeeze some training time into their routine, pre- and post-workout foods can be just as huge. While everyone’s nutritional requirements are different depending on their goals and activities, these snacks can offer the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to satisfy hunger, fuel workouts, and aid in recovery. Here are 50 favorite pre- and post-workout snacks, including some go-to recipes from various trusted health and fitness pros.
The body works to build muscle and recover 24 hours a day, not just during that one-hour training session. Luckily, smartly timed snacks can give the body the fuel it needs to gain muscle, burn fat, and recover as best it can. Pre-training usually means grabbing a snack about 30-60 minutes in advance, depending on its size and contents, and how much that stomach’s actually grumbling (or how late you get out of bed)! Check out these 25 options to start things right:
1. Perfect yogurt parfait: Feeling fancy, huh? Top ¼ cup nonfat yogurt with ½ cup whole grain cereal and ½ cup fresh strawberries.
2. Protein Creamcicle: Put a twist on the classic kids’ treat by blending 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice. Trainer and fitness expert @JCDFitness does it!
3. Cha-Cha coconut shake: Infuse 1 scoop chocolate whey protein with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin coconut oil. Girls Gone Strong co-founder @JenComasKeck loves this!
4. Star-buffs shake: Can’t get out the door without your morning coffee? Try blending 1 cup iced coffee (keep the ice) with 1 scoop chocolate whey protein.
5. Dressed up oats: Load up on carbohydrates for a longer workout with ½ cup cooked oats topped with 1 tablespoon dried fruit and 1 tablespoon shaved almonds.
6. Fruitsation shake: Blend 1 scoop of your favorite whey protein flavor with ½ cup ice, and 1 cup frozen berries for a sweet energy boost, suggests strength coach @Roglaw.
7. Yoberries a-go-go: For the perfect blend of carbs and protein, try 1 cup non-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt — which often packs more protein and probiotics than regular plain yogurt — with ½ cup fresh blueberries.
8. PB Apple: For a quick carb fuel-up, slice 1 medium apple and serve with 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter.
9. Classic fruit cup: Prefer to keep it sweet but simple? Combine 1 cup berries, melon, banana, and oranges!
10. Dried fruit: For a quick pre-workout fix, try ¼ cup serving of dried berries, apricots, and pineapple.
11. Eggs n’ toast: Have a heartier appetite? Try 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast.
12. Fruit leather: Need something light that makes you feel like a kid again? Try 1 single serving of fruit leather. Have a little extra time? Roll some out in the kitchen.
13. Energy in a bar: With so many options in the aisle, try opting for a bar with the most natural ingredients. While protein count is key, also check the sugar content (it shouldn’t rival what’s found in the candy aisle!).
14. Chicken n’ sweets: For a fast bite, grab 2-4 ounces (or a palm-sized amount) of sliced chicken with an equal portion size of sweet potatoes.
15. Oats n’ eggs: Not just for breakfast, try ½ cup cooked oatmeal and 2 whole eggs seasoned with salt and pepper.
16. PB & B toast: Fuel up with 1-2 tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter and half a sliced banana on whole-wheat toast.
17. Turk-cado pasta: Add 2-4 ounces (or a palm-sized amount) of roasted turkey and 3-4 avocado slices to ½ cup cooked whole-wheat pasta for some enviable eats.
18. Wafflewich: Spruce up this classic by combining 1 frozen Kashi waffle with 2 teaspoons of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of jam.
19. Better than a PB Cup: A half-cup cooked oats with 1 teaspoon defatted peanut flour, and a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.
20. Veggie omelet: Add a little more color to your diet by combining 2 whole eggs shaken with 1 teaspoon of water cooked with 1 cup sautéed seasonal veggies.
21. Fruit & Cottage: Top ½ cup cottage cheese — a low calorie and higher protein option than cream cheese — with ½ cup fresh pineapple, berries, or melon. And voila!
22. Rice con leche: Got a long way to run? Fuel up with ½ cup cooked rice, covered with ½ cup milk, a scatter of raisins, and a dash of cinnamon on top.
23. Sports drink: An small low sugar sports drink (keep it under 10 grams of sugar) will do the trick if you’re in a real time crunch. For a little more fuel, add a scoop of BCAA powder— branch chain amino acids that help maintain muscle and tissue health .
24. Hearty salad: Need some greens? Try 1 cup of salad greens with assorted veg, 1 hardboiled egg, and a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar.
25. Energy gel: Got a long way to go? Slurp down a energy gel (like Torq or USN) prior to an endurance session.
After a tough training session, post-workout snacks are an important way to restore energy and rebuild muscle, too. Something downed within 20minutes of exercise – then more within two hours, protein-packed shakes and snacks are a great way to rebuild tissue that breaks down during exercise. The first 20minutes are important while the body’s still running warm and can really use the fuel. Here are 25 ways to end that session on a high note:
26. Choco-tropical trail mix: Go bananas for a blend of ½ a handful of each: macadamia nuts, dried coconut, dark chocolate chips, and banana chips.
27. Protein pancakes: Mix 4 egg whites, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on preheated griddle (medium low heat) until it bubbles, then flip and cook another 30-60 seconds. Top with fresh berries or sliced banana.
28. Sweet potato pie shake: Combine 1 scoop of cinnamon bun whey protein, ¼ cup diced cooked sweet potato, 1 cup of ice, and 1 cup vanilla almond milk in the blender — a Kellie Davis original.
29. Chunky Monkey shake: Monkey around with 1 medium banana, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk blended with ice.
30. Double G shake: Aussie strength coach @Rachel_Guy1 recommends an small greens drink (any superfood blend found at most health food stores) with 1 scoop of glutamine.
31. Double Trouble shake: To lengthen the delivery time of nutrients to your muscles, combine ½ scoop of whey protein blended with ½ scoop slower-digesting casein protein, plus a handful of your favorite fresh or frozen fruit.
32. Bananarama: One medium sliced banana with 1 cup low fat milk — it doesn’t get any easier than this!
33. Green Monster smoothie: Blend 4 cups spinach, ½ cup vanilla bean yogurt, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter with ice — a favorite of Iowa Girl Eats.
34. Protein bar: For a quick, store-bought fix, feed those muscles with a protein bar. Just watch the sugar content. Look for bars with 10-30 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of sugar, and the fewest number of ingredients you can’t pronounce!
35. Beef and squash: Need something hearty? Try a handful of lean roast beef with an equal portion of butternut squash.
36. Tuna crackers: Mix up a batch of light tuna salad for a quick bite. Add two heaping spoonfuls to a handful of whole grain crackers, and chomp away.
37. Bagel with egg whites: Half a medium-sized whole grain bagel with 2 eggs whites makes a great post-workout sandwich.
38. Ants on a raft: The ants go marching… Spread a heap of natural peanut butter over a brown rice cake and top with raisins.
39. Milk and cereal: Any time is a good time for cereal. Add 1 cup of low-fat milk to 1 cup of whole-grain cereal. Nosh loudly.
40. Apples and cheese: Tease your taste buds with 1 medium sliced apple and 1 stick of low-fat string cheese.
41. Chocolate milk: One to two cups of low-fat chocolate milk seals the deal with extra carbs and protein.
42. Black bean omelet: Four eggs whites, 1 ounce low-fat cheese, and ¼ cup canned black beans — then spice it up with a savory salsa, if you dare.
43. Cottage cheese crunch: One cup fat-free cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ cup whole-grain cereal, and a dash of cinnamon does a body good.
44. Egg muffinwich: Ditch the fast-food and opt for 1 whole egg, fresh spinach, 1 slice cheese, and 1 slice Canadian bacon served on an English muffin.
45. BCAA n’ cakes: When in doubt, just add cakes! Pair up two scoops of BCAA powder mixed in ice water with two rice cakes.
46. AB & J Rice Cakes: Almond butter takes the cake. For this healthier twist on the classic PB & J, sandwich 1 tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of strawberry jam between two rice cakes.
47. Recovery in a bottle: When time is of the essence, grab a store-bought recovery drink to sip on after training. Just check the label — sports recovery drinks will provide plenty of carbs refuel, or opt for aminos to really rebuild.
48. Pita and hummus: One 7-inch pita with two spoonfuls of hummus adds a little pep back to your step with quick digesting carbs.
49. Egg scramble: Veg out after a hard training session with 2-3 whole eggs scrambled with a handful of chopped onion, spinach, and bell peppers.
50. Chicken hash: After your workout grab 1 cup cooked diced chicken, ½ cup butternut squash and apples, roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Make a big batch and store it in the fridge!
Food should be fun and enjoyable – and hopefully not boring! Thats certainly my view anyway. This comes from a variety of different sources but hopefully will give you some ideas and thoughts about what you can do to get the right food in you quickly.
There are four reasons why we want to get right on our sides:
– Minimising frontal resistance – only half the body will be in the water.
– Extra reach – depending on the amount of rotation you can gain upto a good 10inches. Not much over 25m, but over a 1500 or 3.8km swim this can make a large difference to the number of strokes you take!
– By getting on our sides we can use more of our back muscles – which are bigger than our shoulder muscles and therefore drive more power and gain more speed.
– Possibly most importantly, you give yourself more room to breathe into.
How to Do It:
1. Push off with one hand straight out in front, just below the surface of the water, the opposite arm by your side.
2. The top shoulder and hip should be out of the water, you should be perpendicular to the surface.
3. Your ear should be on the shoulder of the arm out in front.
4. When you need to breathe, ROTATE your chin toward your top shoulder.
Doing side kick you can practice maintaining one single straight line
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Keeping your ear to your shoulder will help hold your body line and posture that we always talk about. If your head starts to come away from your arm, your hips will start to drop and make life more difficult with more resistance. If you are really struggling to breathe on a regular basis, you can start with keeping your chin toward your top shoulder – giving you time to breathe when you want. Then you can progress to having your ear on your shoulder. As you get stronger, more confident and more comfortable with the drill you can progress to looking down at the bottom of the pool/lake to more simulate a full stroke body position.
Clearly if you are a triathlete, doing too much kick isn’t going to seem like a priority to you, but remember that this is a case of practising the body position and making your foundations stronger; by doing a little more kick it will also become stronger, more efficient and more effective too.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!
This isn’t about running with company and whether your running partner talks too much! Its all about putting less shock through your joints and legs.
Why Do It:
By putting less shock through your legs, you can run further, faster and easier. The main barrier to increasing volume or speed is soreness post training which can lead to more serious injury. If we can minimise the amount of force going through the legs, then we can work on moving faster.
How To Do It:
1. Land under your hips – if your feet land in front of your body (over stride) then you increase the amount of shock going through your joints. Not only do you incur the vertical impact (your weight pressing down) but you also add a horizontal component to the impact. It doesn’t matter if you are striking on your heel or your forefoot, you will still increase the shock going through your legs – and it will make the sound of your steps LOUDER! To work on this, concentrate on landing under your hips (doesn’t matter if heel/midfoot/toe strike) and pushing backwards.
2. Keep your upper body smooth – the more that your body moves up and down, the more energy is being wasted and not travelling in a forward direction. There are two elements to this: push backward (rather than down) with your feet and take shorter, faster steps. By keeping your cadence higher (for the same speed), your torso won’t bounce up and down to the same degree, and the downward movement won’t encourage a higher impact on your feet (and therefore you will be quieter!)
3. Maintain posture – the buzzword of the last few weeks within my blogs; and a key for life as a whole. By maintaining a series of straight lines through your body you are able to absorb shock more efficiently (rather than concentrating it in particular weak areas) and also use your strength more effectively. All this leads to being a quieter, smoother and more effective runner!
Sound is wasted energy – those who remember anything from GCSE (or O-Level?!) physics will know that energy cannot be increased or lost, it is just changed from one form into another. As runners – as sports people full stop – we want to make sure that as much of the energy we expend becomes kinetic energy (driving us forward) rather than sound and heat which is a waste.
See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!
Injury sometimes feels like an inevitable part of sport – in some way shape or form. Whether its annoying niggles, tweaks and strains or a full on muscular or joint issue – to the more serious damage that can occur, no-one wants to spend time out of training and racing because of an injury. Funnily enough a lot of these problems can be prevented; either by better structured training plans to prevent over use and burn out. Or by making sure that the relevant joints and muscles are strengthened to ensure that the body and limbs are properly prepared to deal with the shocks that particular exercises can put put on the body. I’m reminded of this quote/mantra from my father:
Having had a relatively serious ankle injury through the winter and struggling to rebuild my running, I went to meet with our partners, The Physio Clinic/The Sports Performance Clinic. The idea of meeting with Matt was to run through their Performance Matrixscreening. The screening checks for strength, mobility and control issues via 10 different exercises. From this, Matt could then give me a range of exercises that would strengthen my weak areas.
In the event, I scored 11 out of 50 points, a lower score is better as it highlights fewer weaknesses. I was pretty happy with my score – but it highlighted major weakness around the lower leg and foot. This remained true both for general alignment and co-ordination (low threshold) and for strength and speed (high threshold). On the positive side, my back, hips and shoulders are assets to my sporting performance. Matt has given me 6 exercises to build into the S&C programme that he has written me to work on these weaknesses – especially toward the Europeans!
The Performance Matrix is good tool to anyone looking to get into sport, looking to protect themselves from injury, or looking to improve their results and get the most out of their abilities. It covers all sports as well, not only swim/bike/run; so for high strength/force sports like golf, cricket, netball, basketball and tennis its great for the shoulders – as well as rugby, football for the lower body.
If you are one of our athletes or just interested in having a Performance Matrix Screen and how it can help you, get in contact with us!