I ran my planned 26 miles this week and managed to ride 30. But I didn’t swim, as I had a swim team meeting on Tuesday night when I usually swim (the irony!), and my plan to swim Thursday night was foiled when I realized it was High School Curriculum planning night. I can’t believe my baby will be in High School next year! Mind you, at 5′ 10″, he’s already being asked what High School he attends…
So far, my plan to build a better base has been going well; all my runs are at a relatively easy pace, but I mix up the terrain, making sure at least 50% of my long runs are on the trail, offering not only variety but also an opportunity to work on strength and stability. Over the long weekend I got in two trail runs: a 9 miler at Manassas Battlefield, which was super soggy after a full night of rain, and a 7 miler on the infamously hilly Bull Run trail. My trail running partners, Adam and Andrew, generally keep a good pace that’s manageable but not a breeze. I tend to lose a bit of ground on the uphills, but they are good sports and wait for me at the top. Our Manassas Battlefield route includes 4 stream crossings; generally we charge through them in the summer months but take the bridges in the winter. For some reason, even though it was only 23 degrees, Adam decided to run through all 4 streams. By the 4th stream I was tempted, and charged into the icy water saying “I don’t know how deep I’m going to go!” which immediately got a “That’s what she said” response from Adam. Ah yes, we keep it classy on the trail. My legs and feet were numb for the next mile.
At Bull Run a tree had fallen across the path. I went left, to jump over it from higher ground, Andrew went right, and Adam, who’s the tallest, took the middle. I had a vision of us colliding as we hit the ground on the other side, and we got pretty close, but managed it like a choreographed ballet. That would have made a good picture. The ballet theme came up again when Adam and I stopped in Trader Joe’s after the run. I put ski pants on over my muddy tights – after all, it was 15 degrees – but Adam strode into TJs “looking like a dancer.” His words, not mine…
Change #2 goes hand-in-hand with my base-building plan. In addition to building a strong run base, I wanted to ensure I had the strength and stability to support my running. When you’re running, only one foot is on the ground at a time, meaning all your body weight is supported by one leg. You need strength and stability to do this, and a weak link in the chain, be it the hip, the glutes, the ankle, or the foot, can lead to injury. The key is to isolate and strengthen each part of the chain in a manner that makes sense for running, an activity that is one-directional and very repetitive.
I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to Steve Gonser, PT, DPT, of RunSmartOnline, who has developed a fantastic online strength bootcamp called BaseSix. With a full time job, two active kids’ busy schedules, and swim, bike and run training, I don’t have time to go to a gym. Steve’s six week “run specific bootcamp” requires no equipment and is easy to do at home. The twelve, 30 minute workouts are run-specific and are designed to improve strength and balance. Much of each workout is on one leg, which requires you to develop balance and foot strength. One particularly nasty workout focuses on glutes, and you know you’ve done it right when you have trouble navigating stairs the next day!
I signed up for the one year membership after attending one of Steve’s seminars on Master’s Running. It cost just $109 for the year and includes access to five different programs. The website also has numerous helpful running-related articles that are available to everyone, whether you’re a member or not.
I have to admit that I noticed improvement in my running efficiency within a couple of weeks of starting BaseSix. Runs felt easier, as if I were using less effort. A particularly hilly trail run that kicked my butt one week was significantly easier two weeks later. However, I waited until I completed all six weeks before writing this post, because I wanted to feel confident it had really made a difference. I can say without a doubt that it did.
The workouts are challenging but not impossible. This is not a choreographed-to-music, slick-packaged workout for the masses. I particularly like that fact that Steve shows he’s human – he loses his balance every now and then, and loses count fairly often. Now that I’ve completed the six week program, I’m going back and repeating the weeks I found most challenging (glutes and core!). Steve also has a yoga program as well as a kettlebell program that I’ve yet to try, as well as a number of videos with running drills.
Check out RunSmartOnline if you’re looking to get stronger and run with greater efficiency in 2016!
*Please note that I wasn’t compensated for this informal review – or even asked to write one – I’m simply sharing my thoughts on something that is working for me!