Training/Life Update and New Training Ideas 2/28/14

My brain hurts, but I'm alive.

    It's that time of the semester.  DPT school is ramping way up (or I just realized that I need to bump myself back up to that level) and a crazy schedule of midterms is continuing.

    But things are going well!  This last week I have recovered well from the Brea 8k, which turned into a great workout rather than a good race (Brea 8k Race Report).  I learned some good things from it and am ready to start implementing some new ideas that I'll get into in a bit.

    On some not so great news, Saucony began sending out their offers to athletes for their sponsored 2014 Saucony Hurricane Team last week.  I kept checking Twitter with various hashtags (#sauconyhurricane, #sauconyhurricaneteam, #findyourstrong) to see who was announcing their spot on the team.  After a week I have heard nothing, which based on who I saw sponsored is not totally surprising.  Some very fast people are on this team, particularly those with fast half marathon times.  My 1:11:11, despite being my first half marathon, is fairly slow for a sub-elite runner.  If I ran in the 1:06:00-1:07:00 range that would be different.  Unfortunately I don't think I have the time or money right now to adequately train for a fast half marathon.  Post DPT school is definitely a time when I will focus on that distance.  For now though I will be racing it sparingly.  Although we'll see where my Elliptigo training goes as I have a stationary trainer adapter coming for it that I'm hoping to use while studying so I can get more aerobic training in (more on that later).

    So yeah.  I don't think my application to the Hurricane program was accepted.  It is a little strange that I saw a few other people comment on the fact that they actually received nice rejection e-mails that still wished them the best.  I have received nothing in the way of communication from Brian Mahoney (marketing director at Saucony), who I originally sent my application to.  To which he replied confirming that he had received them.  I even e-mailed him earlier this week when I did not receive a rejection letter wondering what the status of my application was.  Still have not received any response.  

    That is not going to keep me down though!  I will continue looking to the future and continue to train as a member of the Cal Coast Track Club.  I'm hoping if I get fast enough this will mean some seeding of gear from Asics, but we'll see.  I already received really nice short and long sleeved shirts from the team, so things seem to be going well.  It's nice to be on a team again!

And those new training ideas.

So here's what I've been doing.

    I have incorporated a great deal of plyometric exercises into my post-run drills.  These started Sunday after the Brea 8k and I will definitely keep them in my arsenal.  I've started with just doing variations of single leg hops up on a step and down.  I do forward single step hops, side step hops (both directions, laterally hopping and medially hopping) and then diagonally hopping up and down in both a medial and lateral diagonal direction.  This seems to really be helping my ability to push-off from the ground, along with continued step-ups on the stairs of my apartment.  The step-ups have been really good for my glute max strength and stride length as I have seen a decent increase in running speed since I added it to my routine.  Mostly because the glute max is one of the main hip extensors.  Why do you think fast (good) sprinters have such huge butts?  Because that's the main propulsion muscle.  I learned about this exercise's effectiveness on the glute max at the recent CSM 2014 Physical Therapy conference in Las Vegas.  I have not found the article the talk referenced (Running Injuries: From Youth to Collegiate), although I have found several articles discussing how much the single limb squat activates the glute max and medius and how much the side leg abduction exercise activates the glute medius (Distefano, Blackbun, Marshall & Padua, 2009 & Lubahn et al., 2011).  Both of these exercises have been very important to my core/strengthening routine, particularly the single leg squat.  The side leg abduction has been in my routine for a while now, but it wasn't until recently that I added some medial and lateral limb rotation during that motion to stimulate the glute medius and minimus more (this was something I just learned in my Kinesiology in DPT school).  Doing external rotation with the hip slightly extended during a side leg abduction will really hit the glute medius and doing internal rotation will hit the glute minimus a bit more.  That and clamshells with my trunk stabilized has allowed me to continue working on my glute medius strength.  When I am satisfied with my strength level, I will start adding therabands and leg weights into these exercises to make them harder.  For the single leg squat I need to start holding light dumbbells to work on strength once I am ready to move up difficulty-wise.  

   Obviously for core I am still doing exercises focused on good core control via firing the transverse abdominals.  Two exercises I'm doing for that are a bridging exercise with alternating single limb hip flexion and the transverse abs engaged to stabilize the trunk and pelvis as well as the bird-dog exercise, also with the transverse abdominals engaged to stabilize the trunk and pelvis.  The bird-dog exercise is more focused on the multifidi and other deep muscles of the back, but pulling in the transverse abdominals helps those fire.

    Just this morning I started adding power skips for height and distance into my post run drills just to work on more pop from my push-off.  It's not a good idea to try starting new things right before a race (I'm running the Dairy Aire 5k tomorrow, which is part of the group of 3 races called the Triple Crown that I am trying to triple win), but I'm training through it anyway.  No report yet on how these have effected me but I'm interested to see where I can go with more plyometrics.  I've done a ton of drills throughout the last few years, but I'm beginning to see some discussion in the physical therapy and athletic world as to whether those drills actually do anything for motor patterns.  I still think drills are important before hard workouts in the sense of doing a dynamic warm-up.   But like how static range of motion may not relate to actual moving range of motion (dynamic ROM), I wonder how drills actually affect running form.  So as always, I am my own subject for this experiment.  Let's see where this goes.

    What I probably need to do is do my "drills"  (high knees, butt kicks, etc) before every run and plyometrics after.  I've done drills after runs for the last several years with the belief that I am solidifying motor patterns when my body is fatigued.  I have not seen peer-reviewed evidence regarding this idea, but I have continued to do it.  Maybe it's time for a change just to see what happens.  The only issue is motivating myself to do that before the run as usually I just want to get started.  I'll try any type of training once, so let's see where this goes.  

    Oh yeah.  And the Elliptigo?

   So I have a stationary trainer on the way right now so I can actually start using the Elliptigo.  Pomona has nothing in the way of bike lanes.  I have tried seriously riding it on the streets for 10 minutes before I realized I was going to get hit by a car.  Plus I don't have the time anymore to be doing a second workout during the day unless it involves studying.  In the last few days I've actually had some success using the elliptical machine in my apartment for 35-45 minutes hard while studying.  The material I have studied has stuck in my head and I feel like aerobically I gained something from the elliptical without any additional pounding.  I'm beginning to see why many elite athletes use the Elliptigo to get additional training in without putting them at risk for stress-related injuries.  The mechanics of the Elliptigo are much more similar to those of running than a traditional elliptical.  This is achieved through the athlete being taken through greater hip extension and hip flexion, as opposed to the limited mechanics allowed by a normal elliptical.

    So my goal is to try studying on the Elliptigo with the stationary adapter in my apartment to get my work for school in while getting aerobic work in for running without the pounding.  I'll still be running 10-11 miles in the morning for training with 20ish miels on Sunday for a long run so I can hit my +80 miles for training, but now I'll have this additional training that doesn't put me at risk for injury (I hope).  So in a way I'll be able to train like I'm running +110 miles a week again (I hope to work up to using the Elliptigo for an hour a day in the evening while studying), but with studying for a bunch of it.  We'll see what happens and what school allows.

    So that's what I've been doing recently.  I'm hoping for good things tomorrow at the Dairy Aire 5k, but it is raining pretty hard.  So I'll just be going for the win.  Then it's back to studying my rear end off.

Let's see where all of this takes me.  I'm excited for the future.

Thanks for reading!

As always, my thoughts are my own.

Tack On!!

-Matthew Klein, SPT


Distefano, L, Blackburn, J, Marshall, S & Padua, D.  (2009).  Gluteal muscle activation during common therapeutic exercises.  Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy, 39(7), 532-540.  
Lubahn, A., Kernozek, T., Tyson, T., Merkitch, K., Reutemann, P. & Chestnut, J.  (2011).  Hip muscle activation and knee frontal plane motion during weight bearing therapeutic exercises.  International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 6(2), 92-103.