SHAPE: What Is the Proper Running Form, Anyway? Whether you’re a beginner or just need a refresher, here’s what you should know about proper running form. You can find the original article here.
by Renee Cherry
JOHNER IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES
There’s more to mastering proper running form than meets the eye. That’s why every perfectionist who’s taken up running knows a certain type of inner monologue: ‘Should I be leaning more? Am I breathing deeply enough? How much arm swing is too much?’
Whether you’re an occasional runner or a race addict, it pays to seek answers to those types of questions. Not only can learning proper running form lower your risk for injury, but it might also lead to a PR. “The overarching goal, especially with long-distance running, is to run in an efficient manner,” says Chris Hoffman, a certified running coach and founder of Formula Running Center. “You’re trying to expend as little energy as possible, and any sort of extraneous arm and body movements or breathing can tire out your body.” (Related: How to Determine Your Running Gait—and Why It Matters)
No need to creep on your area joggers to suss out exactly how you should be moving. Learn the major elements of proper running form here.
The Right Running Posture
When it comes to your overall posture, it helps to think about “running tall,” says Vikash Sharma, D.P.T., a physical therapist at Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. “This will help keep you from slouching forward and suffering from a breakdown in running and breathing mechanics,” he says. “You want to think about keeping your ears over your shoulders.” Aim your gaze about 15-20 feet straight ahead. Try to avoid a forward head posture (aka jutting your chin forward). It can put a strain on your neck, back, and shoulder muscles, says Sharma.
The average runner won’t need to concern themselves with actually measuring out their stride length—but it is important to find a stride that’s not too long and not too short. A lot of people tend to overstride, says Sharma. If your stride is bouncy, that’s a giveaway. “When you’re overstriding, that leads to a more vertical displacement (aka bouncing) and that’s going to promote more contact time with your foot on the ground, which is going to cause your muscles to have to work harder,” he says. Rather than leaping forward, think about directing force into the ground and behind you once your foot lands.
Having too short of a stride is a much less common mistake, but if you suspect your stride is too short, one way to find out is to film yourself running and count your steps per minute. “Generally speaking, for distance runners, faster and more efficient runners are averaging around 180 or more steps per minute,” says Hoffmann. “Slower runners average around 160 steps per minute.” So if you’re taking far more than that, you might want to lengthen your stride.
It’s not always easy to self-correct your running form, particularly when it comes to stride length. Getting a gait analysis at a running clinic can give you an outside perspective on which aspects of your running form you could improve upon. “I think the biggest thing to get used to over time—even for myself—is working on that stride length,” says Hoffman. “Modifying your stride at first will feel unnatural because it’s not how you’ve been running all your life.” (Related: How to Determine Your Running Gait—and Why It Matters)
Where Foot Strike Comes In
Research isn’t conclusive on exactly how your foot should be hitting the ground for proper running technique. While some schools of thought favor striking the ground with the midfoot or front of the foot rather than the heel, the authors of a 2017 review of existing studies argued that it hasn’t been proven to offer advantages when it comes to running efficiently or avoiding injuries. Even elite athletes aren’t necessarily adjusting their footstrike pattern to favor the front or middle of the foot. A study on marathon runners at the 2017 IAAF World Championships found that most runners favored a rearfoot (heel) strike pattern, including the top four finishing men.
All that is to say, you do you. “There are a lot of people out there talking about foot strike pattern—forefoot, midfoot, heel strike,” says Sharma. “However, when I’m working with someone, I’m more concerned about whether there are any issues with the current pattern. Is the running efficient, are you getting injured, etc. If so, that’s when we might want to consider making a change.”
What About Arm Swing?
Your stride will impact your arm swing since your arm movements should naturally mirror your legs (and vice versa), so it’s a surprisingly important part of proper running form.
You want to maintain a 90ish-degree bend in your elbows. And that potato chip cue your high school track coach used still holds true: To avoid excess tension, loosely cup your hands and pretend you’re holding a chip between your thumb and forefinger that you don’t want to break, suggests Sharma.
And resist the urge to overswing. “When you’re running, imagine there’s a wall maybe a few inches in front of you and you want to keep your arm swing behind that wall,” says Sharma. “Once you start swinging your arms more aggressively forward, that promotes over-striding, which you want to avoid.” (Related: 10 Reasons Your Neck and Shoulders Hurt While Running)
How to Breathe While Running
“Everybody’s a little bit different when it comes to breathing,” says Hoffman. “For some people, it’s an inhalation for two seconds and an exhalation for two seconds, other people are different. The idea is to relax and breathe in an efficient manner.” That might be a deeper breath than you’re used to—if you notice hyperventilation-like breaths, that’s a sign that you’re not getting enough air and should slow down your breath.
“In through the nose, out through the mouth” is a traditional rule of thumb, but again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all deal. For more specifics, here’s how to breathe while running.
Catch all that? It’s a lot to keep track of, but all the aspects of proper running form can play a role in logging more injury-free miles.
Washingtonian: 100 Ways To Virtually Experience DC During the Coronavirus Pandemic. A giant guide to museums, theater, food, fitness, kids, movies, and much more. You can find the original article here.
by Washingtonian Staff
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some of what our great city has to offer. Many of the DC area’s businesses and cultural institutions have gone virtual, offering all sorts of ways to stay connected (and fill your days). We’ve put together a big list of things you can do to experience what Washington has to offer—online.
• Look at striking photos of our city in crisis. Washingtonian’s photographers have been capturing this strange and scary time.
• Watch one of these relaxing live-cams that stream sights of the city.
• Listen in on the Supreme Court. In May, the court will hear arguments by phone for the first time, and the public will be able to listen in.
• Spend some time with the DC Public Library. They have lots of online activities, including virtual story times on Facebook Live, DC poetry club chats on Twitter, and other activities on their website. You could also try your hand at American Sign Language with its bi-weekly Zoom class (Email [email protected] for the link and more information).
• Watch fellow Washingtonians try (and probably fail) to find love under quarantine. There’s now a DC quarantine version of the Netflix show Love Is Blind that you can watch and explore via Facebook. “DC Is Blind” matched up real Washingtonians searching for love during Covid-19 to go on virtual dates where they can’t see each other. See all the drama unfold for a $10 fee.
• Attend a Virginia winery tasting. Bring the tasting room to your living room with streaming virtual tastings from the likes of Breaux Vineyards in Loudoun County and Molon Lave Vineyards in Fauquier County. Most wineries are continuing to ship orders, and many have lowered or even waived shipping fees, which means you can sip along at home. Bonus: you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving.
• Hang out in José Andrés’s home kitchen. Plenty of chefs are hosting online cooking demonstrations right now, but none are as delightfully zany as Andrés’s #RecipesForThePeople series on Instagram. The barefoot chef is joined by his three daughters as they attempt to whip up fried rice or chicken and cauliflower in the span of a Hamilton song. Come for the cooking tips, stay for Andrés’s singing (shouting?) skills.
• Get a crab feast delivered. Crab houses may be closed but Chesapeake crab season is still on. American Ice Company is offering free weekend delivery (within three miles) of steamed crab and cold beer packages—cracker, mallet, and potato salad included. Find a rundown of other crab carryout options here.
• Learn how to make bagels and sourdough. Now that a homemade loaf of bread has become a social distancing status symbol, you can flex your baking skills with online classes from Park View pizza spot Sonny’s. Register for lessons in bagels or sourdough and make sure you’re stocked up on plenty of flour.
• Play trivia with Lou’s City Bar. The Columbia Heights sports bar is keeping its trivia tradition alive with virtual events each Monday and Thursday at 8 PM. Themes have included Disney and “a night at the movies.” Twitter has the scoop on how to get into the Zoom games.
• Or order a cocktail online for pickup or delivery. Local governments have now made it legal for restaurants and bars to offer alcohol with carryout food. Try a batched saffron gin and tonic or a spicy paloma from Service Bar, one of our favorite cocktail bars, or opt for an “adult juice box” from Tiger Fork.
• Or pick up some wine. Hotspot Maxwell Park has an impressive list of discounted bottles for pickup and delivery. Find more options here.
• Listen to a ramen chef’s mix-tape. Katsuya Fukushima—the chef behind ramen shops Daikaya, Bantam King, Haikan, and Hatoba—hasn’t felt like cooking lately. But he has found that music boosts his mood, so he’s been making Spotify playlists. Check them out if you like the soundtracks in his restaurants.
• Have great dishes from DC restaurants—that you make in your own kitchen. Here are five favorite brunch options you can make from home. And if you’re tired of simply making sourdough loaves, try putting that starter to good use in a chocolate bundt cakeinstead. For our full list of recipes (including cocktails), click here.
• Go online grocery shopping from a restaurant. Local restaurants-turned-markets offer the double benefit of supporting a local business and limiting your exposure to the virus. Founding Farmers, which has launched online stores for its Tysons and Potomac locations to start, has an extensive inventory of more than 300 items (produce, fresh pastas, deli meats, ice cream, cleaning products).
• Or try something more gourmet. Fiola Mare has you covered for caviar or rack of black truffle stock, while Rare Steakhouse has opened up its dry-aging room for Tomahawk steaks and pork chops at discounted prices. Find more options here.
• Check out Washingtonian food critic Ann Limpert’s online chat. Need advice on cooking projects and delivery options? She chats with readers every Friday at 11 AM.
• Consult this handy map of DC businesses that are still active during the crisis. A great way to support local stores that you might not have ever tried before.
• Go to a farmer’s market. Some are still open, although they’re operating differently to comply with social distancing.
• Find the perfect piece of vintage furniture or decor from local shops Miss Pixie’s and The Old Luckett’s Store. Both are constantly updating their Instagram feeds with new inventory and are offering delivery or curbside pickup.
• Get supplies delivered by robot. At Chevy Chase DC’s Broad Branch Market, you can have supplies brought by an autonomous delivery cart.
• Search (virtually) for your wedding dress. You don’t have to wait to “try on” options.
• Do your Christmas shopping in April. To bring some cheer, Heurich House is hosting its traditional Christkindlmarkt—in the spring. This time, it will be an online marketwhere you can purchase local artisanal crafts, jewelry, food, and more from April 18 to 26.
• Get a facial from Silver Mirror Facial Bar. You can’t actually go to their Dupont location, but they are hosting virtual skin consultations.
• Take a closer look at Degas. The National Gallery of Art’s “Degas at the Opéra” exhibit was open less than two weeks before the museum closed to the public. But you can take a 360-degree virtual tour of the paintings or listen to an audio tour with speakers including curator Kimberly A. Jones and the Washington Ballet’s Julie Kent. You can also explore the museum’s permanent collection and check out some fun kids activities.
• Tour two online exhibits from the National Museum of Women in the Arts: an exploration of Graciela Iturbide’s striking photographs of her native Mexico and an artist-guided tour of Delita Martin’s large-scale multimedia works that center African visual traditions.
• Explore the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They have a large array of digital resources, including online exhibits, video archives, and more. One highlight: “Chez Baldwin,” an exhibit on James Baldwin’s home in southern France.
• Learn about gentrification and the history of DC’s neighborhoods. You can explore maps and imagery in “Right to the City,” a digital exhibit from the Anacostia Community Museum.
• Take a virtual walk through the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center to view the massive historic aircrafts. The museum also has a host of other digital fun to keep you occupied, like its staffers’ podcast “AirSpace” and interactive games and quizzes.
• Get crafty with family-friendly activities from the Phillips Collection. You can learn to make maracas or create pieces inspired by art in the contemporary museum, such as “The Round Table” by Georges Braque.
• Peruse the National Museum of the American Indian’s online exhibits, including “Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field,” which features the works of Native photojournalists Russel Albert Daniels and Tailyr Irvine. Both photo essays seek to “break down stereotypes of Native peoples and to portray stories that show the diversity and complexity of their contemporary lives,” according to its website.
• Immerse yourself in the story of Jane Goodall. The National Geographic Museum released a virtual tour of “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall,” which illustrates the scientist’s life, from the stuffed chimpanzee she had as a child to the real chimpanzees she studied in Tanzania.
• Make your own sun print (an early form of photography) with easy-to-get materials and instructions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s crafts page. You can also take your pick of an artist you want to learn more about through “meet the artist” videos. If you’d rather simply look at art, experiment with the museum’s virtual reality experiences where you can find popular old exhibits like “WONDER” and “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” (the former is for mobile view, the latter requires a VR headset).
• Join a Spies & Spymasters happy hour on Thursdays with the International Spy Museum. There will be a shared recipe from a local bartender that you can make before listening to stories of espionage with different topics every week. Other programs include spy chats (in which the executive director Chris Costa talks to former intelligence officials), spy trivia on Wednesday evenings, and spy school every Friday at noon for grades 4 and up.
• Dig into American history. Check out the National Museum of American History’s online exhibits, like “Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000,” which illustrates how drastically our meals had changed even before the pandemic shutdown.
• Learn more about the science behind viruses in the National Museum of Natural History’s digital exhibit “Outbreaks: Epidemics in a Connected World.” For something to take your mind off the current state of things, you can obsess over marine life through the museum’s “Ocean Portal” or try forensic anthropology by studying bones.
• Let the Kennedy Center bring you some tunes. They recently launched a series called Couch Concerts with music from Jason Moran, members of the National Symphony Orchestra, and other artists. And there is now a “digital stage” where you can take your pick of a wide variety of past performances. Watch Beyoncé’s tribute to Tina Turner, clips from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, the NSO’s powerful rendition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, and more.
• Enjoy a virtual performance from Sixth & I. The eclectic venue is putting on shows from local artists in its “Living Room Sessions” on Facebook. The first (which you can still watch) is from DC indie band Oh He Dead, with more in the works.
• Tell a story (or hear other people’s tales). Every second Tuesday of the month, Story District hosts an open mic storytelling show. Now they’re organizing a livestream of the show with pay-what-you-can ticket prices. For this month’s “Acting The Fool,” they’re asking people to share a big mistake or moment of mayhem. RSVP here to receive a link to attend. (Story District will continue virtual shows throughout the quarantine, and they also offer other online activities like storytelling classes.)
• Watch brand new Facebook live performances from musicians who were originally slated to play the Wharf’s Pearl Street Warehouse. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming performances, or watch previous sets from Thomas Gunn, Karen Jonas, and others.
• Dance like there’s nobody watching. DC9’s Liberation Dance Party is hosting Friday-night online events, so you can hop around your living room to artists like St. Vincent and Future Islands.
• Catch a digital concert from Songbyrd. They’re offering a series of events called “Caged Byrd” on Instagram and Facebook. See a DJ set or a live performance every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 PM—or keep up with music trivia every first and third Monday of the month.
• Learn more about theater with Molly Smith. The Arena Stage artistic director is hosting weekly interviews on Zoom with various theatermakers—from playwrights and directors to costume designers and choreographers—for a series called Molly’s Salon. You can also watch some of Arena Stage’s “gifts of art” videos, featuring things like a tutorial on the dance from Fiddler on the Roof from choreographer Parker Esse and a reading from playwright Craig Lucas.
• Hear what’s on the minds of notable playwrights. Round House Theatre is hosting a weekly chat series with the likes of Dominique Morisseau, Sarah Ruhl, and Aaron Posner. Gabrielle Hoyt, Round House’s literary manager, is asking each guest about plays that have inspired their work.
• Watch some Shakespeare. Folger Theatre’s 2008 production of Macbeth—which was directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, a literal magician—is online for free until July 1.
• Meanwhile, the American Shakespeare Center, based in Staunton, is offering four productions for live streaming: Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV (both parts), and A King and No King. Prices start at $10; productions will be available through April 19.
• Get in shape—theatrically. Synetic Theater is offering weekly physical-theater fitness classes with their company members on Zoom with a pay-what-you-can scale from $5-$20 through April 24.
• Watch an AFI-approved film. You can’t head to the AFI Silver Theatre right now, but you can still check out great old movies that the organization recommends. The AFI Movie Club is tapping prominent people to suggest a different movie each day (such as Steven Speilberg introducing The Wizard of Oz).
• Check out the Spanish embassy’s Spanish Cinema Now festival from home. The embassy has put two of this year’s offerings online. You can enjoy Journey to a Mother’s Room and Killing God through Vimeo (registration required).
• Support Chevy Chase DC’s nonprofit Avalon Theater, which is hosting online screenings of some of its films, including a new documentary about street-fashion photographer Bill Cunningham.
• Or tune in to a reading: Politics and Prose can’t host its usually slate of in-store events, but some of them have moved online, including recent talks from Rebecca Solnit and Melissa Clark. (They are also still selling books.)
• Improve your prose. Alexandria’s Old Town Books has writing classes. Recent teachers have included Jenny Offill. (And you can also, of course, buy books!)
• Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus. Or at least check out these “lunch doodles” from beloved Don’tLet the Pigeon Drive the Bus author Mo Willems.
• Follow Captain Underpants writer/illustrator Dav Pilkey’s weekly virtual drawing demos, readings, and more with the Library of Congress.
• Watch a video series from bestselling YA author Jason Reynolds called “Write. Right. Rite.” with writing prompts and other creativity-boosting activities for kids in partnership with the Library of Congress.
• Get arty with a local museum. The Hirshhorn is publishing DIY arts and crafts prompts for kids with their “Maker Morning” series.
• Have a Zoom party with the Great Zucchini. The local kids-party entertainer is doing his thing online.
• Sign your kids up to learn and have fun. Family social club the Lane is hosting online events with different themes, including animals and art.
• Take a yoga break. Jen Mueller, the owner of the popular Breathing Space practice on Capitol Hill, is streaming a ton of yoga, mindfulness, and “brain-break” classes all week long on Zoom for littles ranging from babies to middle-schoolers. Classes are taught by a range of instructors, cost $12 and up, and are limited in size.
• Do storytime with an astronaut. The Global Space Education Foundation sends children’s books to the International Space Stations—and astronauts read them aloud. All videos on the Story Time From Space library are catalogued here.
• Make a mini-movie, and get a director’s notes on it. Imagination Stage in Bethesda is experimenting with different challenges (make your own mini movie on a theme of the week) and tutorials (think: the set director helps you build a castle out of household objects). Follow the theater company on Facebook and bookmark their blog for the latest videos and contests.
• Understand the moment. Time for Kids has opened up its digital library for free for the remainder of the school year. It’s packed with worksheets, quizzes, teaching tools, and more to help grapple with these fraught times.
• (Mentally) travel beyond the confines of your crowded group house by streaming a virtual guided meditation or breathwork class courtesy of Recharj. Or maybe you’ve reached the part of the pandemic where you officially need to stream an emotional resilience class—don’t worry, they have those, too.
• Elevate your heart rate without watching White House briefings. The Logan Circle HIIT and strength studio Cut Seven is hosting live workouts via Zoom for $15 a class, and is also posting free workouts on its Vimeo and YouTube pages.
• Take a socially distant ride…on a stationary bike. The Alexandria spin studio Ascend Cycle will let you rent one of their bikes for $90 a week, and it’s streaming live and on-demand classes, as well as one-on-one virtual training.
• Discover a new spot for a run (just stay away from crowded sidewalks). Formula Running Center in Arlington has a virtual membership that includes daily workouts and classes, nutrition advice, and a list of local running routes.
• Put Slack on “do not disturb” and take a lunchtime yoga class. Even though its seven DC locations are closed Yoga District is livestreaming daily series of flows for all levels of at-home yogis
• Channel your inner Rocky (minus the whole going to a potentially germ-infested gym part). NuBoxx, a boxing and conditioning group with locations in NoMa and on U Street, has a monthly Zoom membership that gives you access to three virtual boxing and conditioning classes a week.
• Break a sweat while livestreaming a workout/dance party in your living room. Daybreaker, the “sober rave” that hosts early morning events at spots like the Kennedy Center or the National Building Museum, is taking its schedule virtual with themes like “80s aerobics class” and “disco house party.”
• Hunt for your dream home—without leaving the house. Area real estate agents are offering virtual house tours for anyone who’s in the market.
• Get inspired by Great Falls interior designer Lauren Liess, who posts “Homework” instructional videos on her Instagram every week. Learn how to properly scrub your cutting boards or how to replant leftover produce from the grocery store (yes, really).
• Learn to knit. Fibre Space’s $35 beginner’s kit includes 220 yards of wool yarn (choose from ten colors), a set of bamboo needles, and an instruction booklet for making your first scarf, and it can be shipped to you or picked up curbside in Alexandria.
• Take an art class. The Alexandria-based Torpedo Factory Art Center is doing a weekly series of artist interviews and hands-on activities you can join from home. Videos are available on Thursdays at 7 PM on Facebook and Instagram live.
• Or pick up a sketchbook and try figure drawing. The National Portrait Gallery has digital sketching workshops focused on the human body every Thursday at 11 AM on Instagram. Artist Jill Galloway will teach new techniques every week for all drawing levels (ages 13 and up). Learn more about other workshops like cartooning and collage here.
• Try an improv class. DC Improv is offering Intro to Sketch Comedy and Beginning Improv online, so now you can find new ways to annoy your quarantine-mates.
• Supercharge your penmanship with a calligraphy class. One of the area’s best, Laura Hooper, has put together a kit with all the materials needed to get started—an oblique pen, ink, and an instruction book, plus access to a video tutorial.
• Hone your acting chops. There are currently lots of virtual classes for both adults and kids from area theaters. Some standouts include The Actors’ Center ($15 or Pay-What-You-Can), Shakespeare Theatre Company’s virtual adult classes ($149 for six weeks), and Olney Theatre’s Zoom classes for various age groups (free with registration). You can find a full list here.
• Arrange flowers like a pro. Helen Olivia Flowers had been hosting weekly flower-arranging classes in its Alexandria studio for 15 years. Now the adult and kids’ classes are virtual. A bucket of blooms and all the necessary materials will be dropped on your doorstep. Then tune in for an Instagram Live/IG TV tutorial.
• Learn a new musical instrument (or get better at the one you already play). Lessons from local music schools Back to Bach and School of Rock have moved online with one-on-one virtual instruction.
Soles4Souls: How One Small Business is Engaging Customers. You can find the original article here.
For many small businesses, navigating how to keep customers engaged while stores are closed has proven challenging. In Arlington, Virginia, Formula Running Center has worked hard at keeping their audience engaged while staying at home.
“Despite having to temporarily close due to COVID-19, FRC has been putting its ‘best foot forward’ to stay engaged with and help the local and larger running communities on a virtual level, including offering a weekly membership, daily workouts, running routes, live stream strength training workouts, family challenges, nutrition tips and recipes. It is very important for FRC to continue to be a resource for all runners and be available for any questions,” says Jenna Fatica, Head Running Coach and Studio Manager.
In addition to just engaging their audience through fitness, FRC is also continuing their support for Soles4Souls by encouraging their local community to clean out their closets and donate their gently-used shoes and clothing. They’ve spread the word through email and social media and asked their supporters to spend some extra time going through their closet, and cleaning out what they no longer need. They’ve asked that people hold onto their items until state stay-at-home orders have been lifted, but will be accepting donations once the studio reopens.
“FRC is reminding the community to rally together and focus on what we can do for each other, not what we can’t do, during this difficult time,” says Jenna.
In a time where customer engagement is more important than ever for businesses, providing new outlets for how people can be productive with their time is essential. We’re so grateful for the team at FRC and their support of our mission since they opened last year.
To find out how your business can partner with Soles4Souls, visit our website here.
ARLnow: Clarendon’s Formula Running Center Offers “Formula Home”. You can find the original article here.
by ARLnow.com Sponsor
Formula Home is FRC’s new virtual membership coming right to your living room! We know these times are tough, they are hard on you and your family and on small businesses like ours.
We want to support you through this difficult period the best way we know how, by continuing to help you stay healthy and strong and on your way to crushing those goals! We may not be in the same room, but we can still sweat this out together!
FRC Home offers weekly memberships for just $3 a day ($21 a week) and you will receive all the following amazing benefits:
Daily Workouts, Video & Live Streamed Classes (Including Drills to Improve Upon Your, Running Mechanics!), Nutrition Tips, Virtual Challenges, Running Routes, Family Activities, Access to Coaches Through Our Private Facebook Group, Accountability to CRUSH THOSE GOALS, Supportive Community, Virtual High Fives, Fist Bumps and More!
Races across the globe won’t be going on as planned for a few months, but you can still get out in the fresh air and rack up some miles to stay in shape, especially if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands by working from home.
To help you tackle bigger goals in 2020, we spoke with Dave Ringwood from Arlington-based Formula Running Center about how to train for a half-marathon or a full marathon in just 12 to 16 weeks. Ringwood is a USATF-certified coach who helps local runners reach their goals. Highlights from our conversation are below.
First things first, if someone is thinking about running a half-marathon or marathon as a beginner runner, what should their first steps be?
The very first step should be to choose a race that allows enough time to appropriately prepare. The time between deciding you want to run your race and actually toeing the start line will be filled with new experiences, lessons and moments that deserve your attention. I recommend taking approximately 12 and 16 weeks for the half- and full marathons, respectively.
Next, it is important to identify what days throughout the week work best for training. For longer distance races, I recommend dedicating at least four days per week, so identifying where those best fit around the standard week.
Once you’ve decided your goal race and found time for training, I recommend finding a community (large or small) that can act as a source of motivation throughout your training. This could be in the form of family and friends, a running group or a coach-led program. The motivation derived from a group is invaluable to maintaining a positive attitude over the course of a training program. And speaking of training programs, a coach can provide appropriate training for meeting your race goals in a healthy and fast way! Guess where you can find this type of community and training program? That’s right, FRC!
If someone is thinking about running a half-marathon or marathon as a more seasoned runner (but has not run, say, more than a 5K or 10K), what should their first steps be?
Once a race has been selected, a seasoned runner should turn their focus to the actual training at hand. The training required for a half- or full marathon is significantly different than that for a 5K or 10K, and a seasoned runner will still need guidance understanding the differences.
To that note, I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial a training group or coach is for seasoned runners training for their first marathon. The more experienced one becomes at running, the more detailed the goals become. The workload feels lessened with a positive group surrounding you and the mental stresses are minimized with a coach guiding you along the way!
If a coach or training groups aren’t realistic options for you, the most important first step is identifying a training plan that works for your schedule. Structure is the key to success when preparing for long-distance training.
Let’s discuss the 12- to 16-week period of training. Why is that time frame important?
Typically, a more seasoned runner will need less dedicated time to the training program, simply because they have more “base” miles under their belt, and are likely coming from a place where they are already running. These runners might not need to build up into the mileage, so might be just fine running fewer than 12 or 16 weeks.
On the other hand, beginner runners might be coming from a place where they are just beginning or returning to running, and will need additional time to build up their mileage, and could benefit more from the full 12 to 16 weeks.
And beyond that, every runner is unique. For example, it’s worth noting a runner’s injury history and noting how that might affect time needed during the buildup. If injuries have been an issue in the past, it’s worth spreading the training out a bit more, allowing a more gradual progressing toward peaking on race day. Understanding that each runner is unique is essential to bringing your best self to the start line on race day.
What are some important factors to consider while training?
Speed work, intervals and hill training are all important pieces to incorporate into your training. The key is making sure they are appropriately executed based on the time until your race. Early in the program, intervals are typically longer and less intense. While more speed work is included toward the later stages of training, with intervals moving shorter but more intense.
I typically recommend hills based on the race course. For example, if hills are prominent in the later stages of a race, racers need to prepare for attacking hills on tired legs. A great way to simulate that experience is to finish a long run with a few hilly miles.
Like runners, every race is unique. And the training to prepare for them should be too!
How can runners prevent injury, and is there a point that they should stop training if they notice a problem?
Dynamic stretching (functional movements, bringing much of your body through full range of motion) before working out and static stretching (stretches held in place for an extended period of time) after working out are the bare minimum for preventing injury. For some runners, this is enough to remain injury-free, and they don’t need to consider anything more. Lucky them!
For many others (myself included), more is needed to remain confident in our ability to remain injury-free. A simple preventative measure is to make sure you are adequately hydrated throughout the day. Hydration plays a key role not just during performance, but also for prior to performance. Hydration promotes loose joints that are ready to run.
Additionally, recovery services provide a great opportunity to keep injuries at bay. Foam rolling, massage, compression sleeves, cryotherapy, cold water soaking and infrared saunas are all valuable recovery resources that help keep injuries from occurring!
What should an ideal workout, an alternative to just running, look like for a training plan?
When building training plans, I work the week around what I like to call “quality runs.” Quality runs can include speed work, intervals, hills and/or long runs. I structure most weeks to include two quality runs, with easier/recovery days surrounding them.
The longer of these quality runs will be completed during the weekend, to prepare runners for the weekend race. The shorter will be midweek, to allow appropriate recovery between the two.
For longer races, I recommend at least four total runs per week, but how those runs are structured and how cross training is incorporated depends largely on the runner’s experience, goals and injury history. Beginners will likely need to work up to the four days per week of running, using cross training as recovery, with complete days off on a weekly basis. While extremely seasoned runners might be running every day with doubles included. It’s all about finding each runner’s formula.
What other types of exercising do you recommend when training for this type of event?
I’m a strong proponent of yoga and body-weight exercises, regardless of your experience with either. Yoga is a fantastic way to open up your body and allow it to work as one coordinated structure, rather than isolated parts moving near each other. Yoga is a way to develop your body’s ability to communicate with itself, providing smoother and more natural movements during your run.
Body-weight exercises are fantastic because they do a great job developing a runner’s core through functional movement. At the later stages of a distance race, a strong core that is used to functional movement will do a better job maintaining form, allowing the runner to focus all remaining energy on moving forward.
On race day, what is your best advice to stay calm, energized, excited and ready for the finish line?
Trust your training, trust your plan and trust yourself. The work has been done, you know your plan, and all that’s left to do is go out and do it. Luckily, that’s the most fun part of all!