As Spring approaches the Lower Mainland, many fitness enthusiasts gaze upon the horizon to find a good race to run. Beginners tend to reach for a 5km race or a 10km race, where the more advanced pavement pounders reach for the longer races; the half marathon and the full marathon.
As a Personal Trainer, I believe that any time spent working towards a goal is productive, regardless of the duration, intensity, or outcome. But I also believe in doing less work to achieve the greatest results!
In this case, I have found the GT12 courses offered through our Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club facilities to provide a fully rounded program that will give you the most preparation you will need to run your race in the shortest amount of time.
If you find yourself challenging one of the lengthier races this Spring, there are a few key questions to consider as you gear up for your event.
What is the potential danger on the joints during long term cardio exercise? What is the fastest way to elevate your cardio strength? How can GT12 help me train for a marathon?
A Brief Story...
Before answering these questions, I would like to share my own experience with running races. I have run a handful of 5km races and 10km races and have just started training for my first half marathon. In the past, my greatest results were achieved when I spent most of my time lifting weights as opposed to running for distance on a repetitive frequency.
The second focus of my program was spent on recovery; foam rolling, and lower body mobility. In the month leading up to my best event, I ran 1 time a week (for less than the event distance) and did full body, circuit routines for another 3 days of the week, leaving 1 or 2 days for full recovery or mobility workouts.
It would take too long to fully divulge the details of these workout routines I came up with in the past, but what I can tell you is that the structure and intensity of these resistance based cardio workouts were very closely related to the GT12 programs that we run in our facilities today.
Dynamic warmups, strength moves, agility moves, core exercises, cardio challenges and mobility cool downs would all be integral parts to running a great race (not to mention much more exciting than running for a couple hours straight!) Best of all, during this hour long, diversified GT12 workout, we can dive deeper into the questions posed earlier about joint health and energy system development.
First off, the main concern clients and members alike express have to do with the potential for overuse injuries when running long distance races. A simple Google search will show you all of the common injuries sustained during long distance races, or during the preparation phase itself.
Over the course of 26 miles, it is estimated that you will take around 50,000 to 65,000 steps, depending on stride length. That means that your lower body, starting with your tarsals, including your ankle, working with the knee and ultimately bracing at the hips, will take impact 50,000 to 65,000 times during your race. That is a ton!
I can’t think of any other exercise that requires you to do any reps 50,000 times. Now imagine that you spend the month leading up to your event practicing running long distance 3-5 times a week to prepare for your event. As the overall amount of impact over your hips, knees and ankles accumulates, the connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) responsible for keeping those joints in working, healthy order, begin to deteriorate and weaken.
At the end of your 30-day marathon training routine you are walking on ticking time bombs. Instead, we can use multidirectional speed, agility, and quickness drills to train the muscles around the joints to brace for impact in short controlled intervals.
Such exercises are built into every GT12 program and are carefully monitored and coached by the Instructor leading the class. The result is being able to demand more stability from your joints, not just in the forward direction but also laterally and rotationally.
This is done at a safe rate that you can recover from quickly and notice considerable strength gains in terms of control. This is especially important during outdoor runs that have many turns or bends or elevation changes as your joints will be challenged across all planes of movement over the course of 50,000 to 65,000 reps.
Energy System Development
Now that your event safety has been reinforced, we can shift our focus towards Energy System Development. First, there are 3 different energy systems that our body uses during exercise: the Aerobic system, the Anaerobic Lactic system, and the Anaerobic A-Lactic system.
The Aerobic system is the system used predominantly due to its lower threshold to achieve, generally through steady walks, slow jogs or moderate weight lifting. The Anaerobic Lactic energy system can be reached with a steadier jog leading into a run as well as mild circuit work. Finally, the Anaerobic A-Lactic energy system can only be achieved at the highest level of exertion, think of sprints or high intensity circuit work.
During the GT12 classes, you will work on all 3 energy systems at different times during the workout. The glory in training all 3 energy systems in a workout is that you enhance your ability to shift from system to system, finding the most efficient way to use your energy. For example, station 1 may be a squat and press (Aerobic), the next station may be push ups with a pike (Anaerobic Lactic), and the next one may be explosive battle rope slams (Anaerobic A-Lactic).
These moves occur over the course of about 3 minutes and the heart and lungs must adapt quickly between the 3 exercises to supply the muscles with blood and oxygen with their corresponding rate of exertion. During a 26-mile race, there will certainly be parts of the race that will be higher elevation, or tougher terrain that will force your body to push harder.
If you have been training at one speed and one pace on a flat surface, your heart and lungs simply won’t be prepared for the variation in work load compared to challenging each energy system on a regular basis. Not to mention, with the higher work load in GT12 classes, you will notice a lower resting heart rate, which has health benefits beyond being able to run further and faster.
When your resting heart rate is lower, it means that your cardiac muscles are stronger and therefore can handle more blood per pump (stroke volume) without having to increase the rate at which the heart pumps (heart rate). By training with GT12, your joints will become more tolerant of impact, and now your cardio system will become considerably stronger, giving you a leg up on the competition, whether it be your friends, family or yourself.
As you can see, there are really two main factors to consider upon preparation of your long-distance race: joint health and energy system control. There are other minor factors to consider as well, which are beyond the scope of this article, such as what type of shoe to wear, stride form and nutrition to name a few.
GT12 classes will help you achieve plenty of goals around distance running in a condensed period that can also be done rain or shine. Above all else, get a recommendation from a trainer to determine the best course of action for your own personal journey, and rest assured having professional assistance guiding you through out this long and arduous challenge in front of you. Most of all … have fun, runners!