Best Strength Training for Runners: Kettlebells

I am often asked what I do for my strength training in addition to my running, cycling, swimming, and various activities. I don’t pay for gym memberships, I don’t pay for classes, I keep it all at home on a yoga mat in front of a mirror. What do I do?

Kettlebells

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I first found kettlebells because of a podcast I listen to every day: The Joe Rogan Experience. Yes, this is the Fear Factor guy, but he is very knowledgeable on a lot of topics. I can’t get enough of it.

How to Start With Kettlebells

1. Get a Kettlebell

I think the infographic below does a pretty good job at explaining kettlebells, but I do have one disagreement with the starting weights of the kettlebells. I would recommend 5lbs for women and 10lbs for men, more if you feel you’re already past that level.

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2. Educate Yourself On Movement Patterns

It is very important to make sure you know the correct movement patterns and ways to support the kettlebell. If not, it can easily lead to injury. My favorite book for getting educated on kettlebells was Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett. He does an amazing job at explaining how the body works and demonstrating the correct movements.

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3. Find a Good Routine

Finding the kettlebell workout that works best for you can be a bit of a chore. My favorite is Extreme Kettlebells by Keith Weber. This DVD has 7 workouts and I tend to do: The Man Maker, Upper Body Blast, Swing Workout, Turkish Getup, and Ab Routine. I can finish this in around 30 mins and come out with an amazing workout.

keith

4. Create a Workout Space

You will need some space to do your kettlebell workouts. My workout space is only about 8 feet long by 3 feet wide and this is all I need. I usually throw down a yoga mat to catch the sweat and to provide good footing, then I am good to go!

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This infographic does a nice job at explaining basics of kettlebells:

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Top Benefits of Kettlebells for Runners:

1. Full Body Training

Kettlebells allow runners to work parts of their body in ways they don’t get to when they run. This leads to better strength and motion in your overall running.

2. Increased Range of Motion and Mobility

Many running injuries are a result of lack of range of motion or lack of mobility. Kettlebells help runners to gain range of motion and mobility through the exercise routines.

3. Strength Gains with Minimal Mass Gains

Kettlebells are part cardio and part strength training. The muscle gains from kettlebells are generally more in the form of toning rather than big muscle gains when done right. Perfect for endurance running.

4. Ease of Everyday Tasks

When you get better at the functional movements of kettlebell training, you get better at the functional movements of everyday life such as carrying groceries, being a parent, and doing housework.

5. Quick and Easy to Fit into Routine

Kettlebell workouts usually range from 5-12 minutes for each routine. Stacking a few of these together is a great way to get in a quick workout.

6. Inexpensive Strength Training

There are no gym memberships needed for this. Just a mat, kettlebells, and an instructional DVD.

7. Increased Core Strength

Kettlebell movements really help to strengthen up the abs as they are full body exercises. Core strength helps runners keep good posture during the run.

I hope this article gave you a nice introduction into kettlebells. Now go out, get a kettlebell and get to it! Feel free to send an email to jack@themotivatedrunner.com if you have questions or are looking for recommendations!

Always in Stride,

Jack

A Weekend with Jay Dicharry, Mark Cucuzzella, and Ian Adamson

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time with Jay Dicharry, Mark Cucuzzella, and Ian Adamson for their Healthy Running, Continuing Medical Education (CME) course. The course was held in lovely Laguna Niguel, California at Rausch Physical Therapy.

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Healthy Running Clinic at Rausch PT

The weekend started with an 8 mile run through the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, which featured sweeping ocean and mountain views. After the run came dinner in Laguna Beach and very inspired conversations. The amount of running knowledge and passion in the room was even more amazing than the food. It was great to hear a variety of opinions on various topics and to get each other to challenge the status quo in running, endurance sports, and life.

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Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Saturday and Sunday were class days focusing on: Anthropologic Basis of Running Training Principles, Footwear, Efficient Running Workshop, Assessing the Injured Runner, Medical Issues in Endurance Sports, and Assessing the Injured Runner Workshop. I won’t go too deep into the material in this post as I’ll be dedicating posts to the material. Instead, I’ll simply talk about the best, high-level takeaways I got from each speaker.

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Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS

Jay Dicharry comes with a Master’s in Physical Therapy and is also a Sports Certified Specialist. He runs the REP Biomechanics Lab and works at Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, Oregon. Before the event, I had read Jay’s book Anatomy for Runners and was a big fan of it. Jay has a way of crafting his ideas and arguments in forms that are easy to understand and undogmatic. My favorite takeaway from Jay was the phrase: “Not bad, just different”. What was meant by this phrase is that every aspect of running cannot be categorized into neat, tiny, little boxes with rules that apply for every person, every time. There is a range of strides, musculature, and body types. It’s not bad, it’s just different. For a while, I thought there was one ideal way to run and everyone should subscribe to that. However, I now look at it more as a spectrum of better ways to run that are healthier and more efficient. I also learned that when working with a runner it should be very holistic in nature. It’s important to get as many pieces of the puzzle as you can.

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Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a professor of family medicine at WVU, Lt Col in the US Air Force Reserves, owner of Two Rivers Tread in Shepherdstown, WV, and an elite master’s runner. Dr. Mark has proven himself to be one of the leader’s in the Natural Running movement as well as running science in general. He comes with a very rational, logical approach and he makes sure to enlist all resources available to him. One thing I noticed he has used a lot is studies from the past 100 years such as this one from Phil Hoffman, M.D.. The study makes a lot of great points, even 100 years ago. Many of these points we have gone against with common footwear for the sake of aesthetics. It is almost amusing to see how many times these researchers were correct and how it was skewed or ignored over the past 30 years. Dr. Mark is also a big fan of Steve Jobs’ quote “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”. This for sure rings true for runners and injuries and we should work to use all resources available to us to connect the dots.

Ian adamson

Ian Adamson

Ian Adamson is a M.S. in Sports Medicine, Director of Research & Education at Newton Running Company, 7x World Champion, 3x World Record Holder, and X-Games Gold Medalist. In short, he’s an athletic badass. Ian also has a great way of presenting that really pushes the envelope of learning. He prefaces his teaching by saying “challenge everything I have to say and find out for yourself”. He doesn’t want you to take everything he, Jay, or Dr. Mark say as truth. He wants you to take the information, do your own tests, and confirm it as truth in your own mind. It is thinking like this that helps all of humanity to learn more and evolve. We are constantly proving ourselves wrong every day and will continue to do so moving forward.

Kevin Rausch, Jay Dicharry, Jack McPheron, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, Ian Adamson

Kevin Rausch, Jay Dicharry, Jack McPheron, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, Ian Adamson

All in all, it was most likely the best weekend of my career thus far. I learned more than I could have imagined and was given a great list of further reading to immerse myself in. I was very impressed with the course, especially how the presenters carried themselves and presented their information. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on a lot of the topics with all of you in the coming weeks and months. If you have a chance to attend one of these courses, definitely do it! It is more than worth it and you get the opportunity to spend some quality time with the industry experts and all around great guys.

Healthy Running

Always in Stride,

Jack

Top 10 Books on Running Science & Training

I spend a lot of my days researching running science, training principles, and nutrition. It is my passion and simply fascinates me. I can’t get enough of the information and am always looking for the next great book to make sense of the sport and activity I love. So far, I have developed quite the expansive library on the topic, sitting at around 100 books or so with still many more to buy and read. For now, I wanted to share with you the top 10 books on running science, training principles, and nutrition. Enjoy:

1. Anatomy for Runners – Jay Dicharry

I first found out about this book when going through my Level 1 Natural Running Coach certification. It was a required reading for the course, so I picked it up. With a name like “Anatomy for Runners“, I was expecting a dry, long read on human anatomy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Dicharry, MPT, SCS, does an amazing job at crafting a book that is easily read by all levels. The dry sense of humor carried throughout the book keeps you laughing and enthralled in the read. He focuses on a wide variety of topics including: biomechanics, micro anatomy, soft tissue mobility, footwear, running science, and the running gait. He has a knack for developing imagery and analogies to help the common man understand is typically complex anatomy and science. I quote this book more than any other book in my collection and continue to return to it for reference and re-reads. It is an absolute must that you buy this book and use it often.

Anatomy for Runners

  2. Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running  – Peter Larson and Bill Katovsky

Tread Lightly was another book that was required reading for the Level 1 Natural Running Coach course. Larson, Ph.D Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Katovsky, Tri-Athlete Magazine Founder, do a great job at covering the wide gamut of running in a way that we all can understand. They cite a variety of studies and tests to back up their information as well as provide places to go for more information. The book tackles the evolution of running, running injuries, running form, running shoes, foot strike, nutrition, biomechanics, running science, and much more. They have some amazing things to say not only in the book but with Pete’s blog as well: www.runblogger.com.

Tread Lightly

3. Natural Running – Danny Abshire

Natural Running was one of the first books I ever read that inspired me to reconsider running form and what it all meant. For the longest time, I had always believed that we “ran the way we ran” and that was it. I assumed that running was not like other sports and did not need certain skills and techniques. Natural Running helped me to think otherwise and refine my movement patterns for more efficient, healthier running. Danny is a master at walking you through the running gait and biomechanics of the foot. He has a fantastic grasp on the material and translates it well to everyone both in the book and in person. The book finishes with an eight week transition plan to natural running to help ensure an effective, injury-free transition. The book also hits on some of the history of Danny and his co-founding of Newton Running. If you ever get the chance to join Danny for one of his Saturday morning Natural Run Clinics in Boulder, Colorado, make sure you do, it’s a treat. He is by far the most passionate and happy runner I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life.

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4. Daniel’s Running Formula – Jack Daniels, PhD

For a long time I believed that the best way to train was to simply go out and run hard. I thought little of rest and recovery days and subscribed to the “no pain, no gain” mentality. I was very wrong. Throughout high school and college, some were able to get through to me with training principles, but nothing worked as well as Daniel’s Running Formula. I read this book when I was working on starting up my coaching company and it changed my view on training drastically. Daniels goes deep into the running science of training and explains why certain things work and others don’t. He is a student of Lydiard as it shows in the training plans he gives in the book. They focus on periodization of training and peaking at just the right time for the big race. Reading this book has changed my training completely and has led me to far more effective training with less injuries. A bit of a tougher read, but definitely pick it up!

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5. Becoming a Supple Leopard – Dr. Kelly Starrett

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were as athletic and poised as a leopard? If we were ready to strike at any moment, enlisting all of our muscles and fibers to work together to perform an action? That’s the goal of Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett. Starrett focuses on educating you about the movement and mobility systems of the body as well as how to stabilize your body. Most of us have failed to learn the correct movements and stabilization techniques and as a result, we are led to injuries. Starrett teaches us how to get in the correct positions and how to break up fascia to increase our range of motion for all activities. If you want to learn how to keep yourself in the best posture as well as how the body works and moves, pick this book up!

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6. Chi Running – Danny Dreyer

Not so long ago, I was a very stressed out runner who also happened to have pretty bad form. I put a lot of pressure on myself for both races and training runs. It was unnecessary and only served to hamper my runs. Chi Running helped get me to relax during my running as well as to find a more efficient running form. Dreyer takes a lot of time to focus on running in harmony with our natural movements as well as the mental aspects of running. I got a lot of great analogies from Dreyer on how to run correctly that I use when coaching others. This book is a great read for both your mental and physical health during running.

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7. The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing – Dr. Philip Maffetone

If you’re looking for a truly holistic book on training, Dr. Phil Maffetone has made it with The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. Dr. Maffetone spares no detail as he goes through building the endurance foundation, diet and nutrition, and the importance of self-care and injury prevention. The book features 34 detailed chapters over 516 pages with a great index to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. One of the top pieces of running science in the book is the MAF test, which focuses on going slower to get faster. Maffetone has helped a myriad of triathletes and runners recover from over training and brings all aspects of their training together. A must have for every runner’s bookshelf.

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8. Anatomy of Movement – Blandine Calais-Germain

If you’re looking to get into the nitty-gritty of how your body works, then Anatomy of Movement by Blandine Calais-Germain is the book for you. This resource details how all the muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments work together to move us. My favorite chapters are the ones towards the end that focus on the lower body, specifically the foot. It can help you to understand the real source of an injury by looking at how you are connected inside, it’s not quite what you think. Pick this one up as a great reference, especially to help diagnose what may be going on with an injury.

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9. Running the Lydiard Way – Arthur Lydiard

When one hears the Lydiard name, it is met with great reverence. Lydiard revolutionized the running world by developing his periodization of training. Lydiard was able to connect the dots as to what was working and why. The tales of those he coached are legendary and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest running coaches the world has ever seen. Most all of his training principles still hold up today and guide the top runners to the pinnacle of our sport. A fantastic read that is easy and offers lots of great advice to merge into your own training.

Lydiard Way

10. Born to Run – Chris McDougall

Say what you will about the message of Born to Run or how the message was taken, McDougall is a fantastic story-teller and the book is a fun read. No matter where you stand on the barefoot argument, McDougall is a master at crafting a story that goes down one path, diverts to another story, and then comes full circle. I found Born to Run to be a gripping read that inspired me to further research running on all fronts. I can still remember sitting on my porch reading this gem then heading to Amazon.com to buy a slew of books on running and running science. If you’re looking for a great story or a look into the barefoot debate, pick up Born to Run and enjoy the ride.

born to run book

I hope that you find a few of these books on running science, training, and anatomy as entertaining, enlightening, and as useful as I have. I love each and every one of these books and often pull them off the shelf for reference and to re-read them. However, this isn’t an exhaustive list, please comment with your favorites  so I can add them to my reading list!

Always in Stride,

Jack

9 Ways to Get Your Head On Right

All too often, our biggest roadblocks are ourselves. This can be a harsh truth to grasp for many. Yes, it is far easier to point the finger of blame at a number of outside influences and people, but most likely, it has the most to do with that organ that sits between your ears.

So how can one conquer their own brain? Here are 9 tips and methods to help you out:

1. Recall Past Successes – You’ve done it in the past, you can do it in the future. Think back to all the times in your life when you conquered over your adversity. You will conquer again. Believe in that truth.

2. Look to the Success of Others – Think it is too hot for your run today? Try Badwater Ultra. 135 miles in 120 degree heat. Now the 5 miler in 95 degrees doesn’t seem too bad does it? Moral of the story, it can always be worse.

3. Visualization of Future – Take the time to visualize yourself succeeding and achieving what you are seeking. Contrarily if you visualize failure, you will most likely get it. Think positive thoughts.

Don’t Worry About the Future – from stockvault.net

4. Let Go of What You Can’t Control – In both life and running there are many things you can’t control. In running you can’t control the weather, tree roots, talented competition, or a course that is too long. In life you can’t control the stock market, the actions of others, your boss, family members, or many other variables. Let it all go and focus on what is within your control.

5. One Step at a Time – The future is terrifying. Especially when there are many unknowns which can lead to a multitude of stresses. Much like #4, let it go. Take everything one step at a time and focus on making forward progress, regardless of how small it may seem.

One Step at a Time – from stockvault.net

6. Seek Advice of a Counsel – Having a counsel around you comprised of a variety of people can provide a great sounding board for your thoughts, fears, concerns, etc. Try to have people from all aspects of your life with varying backgrounds so you can get a wide breadth of opinions, which will enable you to come to a well-rounded opinion of your own. Sometimes talking it out is all you need to do.

7. Relax – Try a variety of relaxation techniques to get your mind to just quiet down for a little. Some of my favorites: yoga, music, reading, running, sitting on the beach, napping, hiking, or escaping into nature.

Yoga for Relaxation – stockvault.net

8. Find Your Motivation –  A nice repository of motivation can go a long way to picking you up when you are down. It can come from a variety of mediums: YouTube Videos, Songs, Quotes, Blogs, Articles, Movies, Pictures, the list goes on. Find yours and have it on hand for the darker days when you need it most. We keep ours here: The Motivated Runner Motivation

9. Gotta Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer says it best: “You gotta keep your head up.” Listen to the song here.

When it comes to the mind, I think that Kai Greene put it best: “The mind is everything, if you don’t believe you can do somethingthen you can’t.”

It’s as simple as that. Implementing is the hard part.

Top 10 Tips You Wish You Were Told BEFORE Your First Marathon

The tips provided in this post will not be the typical ones that you find everywhere else. These tips have been learned from personal experience and are a few things that I wish people had told me before my first marathon:

1. Pinch Your Water Cups – The best way to get water on the go is to pinch your cup right in the middle. Nobody told me this before my first half marathon and I ended up with water all over my face, and very little in my mouth. When you pinch the cup, it prevents the water from splashing out and provides a nice funnel to your mouth.

2. Bring a Roll of Toilet Paper – There will be races when the toilet paper runs out in the port-o-potties. Packing an extra roll makes sure you always have some TP. This also can come in handy if the port-o-potty line is too long, leaving the woods as the only option before the start.

Toilet paper Free Photo http://www.stockvault.net/data/s/125443.jpg

from StockVault.net

3. Pack a Disposable Hoodie/Sweatpants – Many marathons will require you to drop off your race bags and head to the line an hour or so before the gun goes off. This means that you’re stuck with whatever you have on, or you have to discard your extra layers, never to be seen again. It’s much better to discard the used hoodie/sweatpants from the GoodWill than it is your prized race jacket.

4. Bring Extra Socks – Your feet will love you at the end of the race if you have clean, fresh socks to change into. They will feel extremely refreshing after you’ve logged 26.2 in your old ones.

5. Buy Cheap Gloves – Race days are always going to be unpredictable. The morning frost for the first 9 miles or so of an early morning, fall  marathon can be quite nippy. $1.99 gloves can go a long way to fight this chill and can also serve as a place to store gels.

Zero degrees Free Photo http://www.stockvault.net/data/s/107783.jpg

from StockVault.net

6. Use Body Glide – Over the course of 26.2 miles there will be plenty of friction to be had. USE Body Glide! Unless you enjoy red rashes and searing pain for several days, I highly suggest you use Body Glide at any point where you have skin on skin contact. Examples: Armpits, Inside Thighs, Chest, and Inner Calves.

7. Bring Extra Safety Pins – Extra safety pins are a godsend if you have lost yours to pin your bib on or if you need a way to store your gels. I pin gels to the inside of my running shorts as I tend to be a minimalist when I run.

8. No Sudden Speed Bursts – The marathon is a very long race and sudden speed bursts will only serve to sap your energy stores. I made this mistake during the Boston Marathon when running past the girls of Wellesley (5:12 mile). I paid for this mistake dearly. Every mile after mile 18 was torture. Only use speed bursts after mile 22, if you’re feeling good. The 1st mile of the race is also a place where many use speed bursts and you will pay dearly for this over the next 25.2 miles. Take ‘er easy and go out steady and smooth.

9. Stop Stressing Sleep the Night Before – Studies have shown that the night of sleep that matters most is 2 nights before the big race. If you are having issues sleeping the night before, don’t stress it. You are still getting rest by simply being horizontal and most of the energy for your race will be from the previous night’s sleep. I have yet to meet anyone who sleeps all that well the night before, so you’re not alone.

Bedroom Free Photo http://www.stockvault.net/data/s/132353.jpg

from StockVault.net

10. Sit on a Shoulder – If you are feeling tired during the race, try drafting off of someone who is running a similar pace to yours. This can be especially beneficial when it is windy and can help you to save up energy before making your next move. It’s also nice if you repay the favor:)

Well that’s it for our Top 10 Tips You Wish You Were Told BEFORE Your First Marathon! I hope that at least one of these helps you to a great race day!

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack