If you’re preparing to run your socks off in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in September, or in any other long distance event, biokineticist Richard Woolrich advises that the road is not the only place where you should be training.
Woolrich, who is also an award-winning personal trainer at Virgin Active, has five key reasons to use your health club to build towards an optimal performance.
Research shows that strength work twice a week is highly beneficial for a runner, especially if you focus on the eccentric (or lengthening) phase to improve your ability to withstand the fatigue in the legs, which is often created by downhills. One way to do this is to slow down the squat and really stretch the quadriceps. Another convenient way is to join a Virgin Active Grid class which gives you a high-intensity, six-move workout; push, pull, lunge, bend, twist and squat.
As a runner, you’re always moving in a straight line, neglecting lateral movement and the muscles that stabilise you. To remedy this, include the glute medius and adductors, in particular, in every strength workout, even if only for a short period. This will help teach your body to engage these muscles while you’re running, which will enable you to maintain your form and technique for much longer. Pilates or yoga classes are really good ways to improve stabilisation, too.
Swimming and cycling are great options to achieve good cardiovascular stimulus while giving the legs a break from the impact of consecutive days of running. This is especially important if you have any injury niggles. The low impact work keeps your fitness levels up while allowing for recovery before race day.
The treadmill can be used to focus on speed work. A workout should include high-intensity bouts punctuated by equally or slightly longer recovery times, with some solid strength work on an increased gradient to finish.
The dark and cold winter hours, bad weather, uneven road surfaces, inconsiderate drivers – these are all factors that can dissuade you from training or make it an unsafe and unpleasant experience. The health club is a safe and consistent option when you don’t feel like pacing the streets. This element of security is especially important in the final weeks leading up to the race when the last thing you want is a stumble on a loose piece of paving or catching a cold.
Find out more about Virgin Active health clubs here: www.virginactive.co.za