Week 12: Marathon Strength-Training
These moves help you perfect that falling-forward posture.
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To reinforce ideal form, you may want to consider this as a new potential power mantra: Fall toward the finish. "When you are running, you want to imagine that your body is falling forward," says Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. "You want to let gravity assist your fall. This is achieved by simply leaning forward at the ankles, and when you are about to fall, take off running."
As with most worthwhile pursuits, this is much easier said than done. "When you have proper mobility and stability throughout the body, this concept will work great and you will maintain great posture as you fall forward," explains Skinner. "But when the muscles of the posterior chain and the core are not up to speed, this won’t look so pretty. The shoulders will slouch forward, the back will arch excessively, the stride will be more passive than active, and the foot strike will be too far forward."
The focus of this week, then, is to strengthen those aforementioned areas necessary to capitalize on gravity's runner-friendly pull. "The Full Can Raise is not only a great exercise for shoulder function but as the weights come forward, the glutes, hamstrings, and core must all fight the forward weight shift," says Skinner. "The Full Kneeling Band Anti-Extension core exercise strengthens the core in an anti-extension manner, which fights the excessive curve of the lower back that so many runners display. And performing the last two exercises on the TRX will create great functional strength in the hips and core, which will ensure that you can maintain ideal posture as you take full advantage of gravity."
Perform these exercises once this week, on your designated strength-training day.
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(1) Full Can Raise (mobility)
In a full kneeling position, hold a weight plate in each hand. Engage the glutes and take a big inhale followed by a forceful exhale. The exhale should create a lowering motion of your rib cage. Maintain this position of the ribs during this exercise. With the ribs down and the butt tight, squeeze the shoulder blades together and raise the weights up to shoulder height at about a 45-degree angle in relation to your trunk. Repeat for a total of 10 to 15 reps. When performed properly, you should feel as though the glutes and hamstrings are working to resist falling forward.
(2) Full Kneeling Band Anti-Extension Overhead (activation)
Attach a Cook band to a low anchor point. In a full kneeling position, hold the band with both hands at one shoulder. Once again, take an inhale followed by a strong exhale during which you should strongly depress the ribs. Maintain this low rib cage position, with the glutes tight, as you reach the band high overhead and then lower it to the opposite shoulder. Reverse this motion and bring the band back to the original shoulder. That is one rep. It may help to reset the ribcage with another inhale and exhale before performing each repetition. When performed correctly, you should feel the glutes and core resisting the pull of the band. Perform 6 to 10 reps.
(3) TRX Reverse Fly (movement prep)
Holding onto TRX handles with the palms facing your trunk, walk your feet forward as you lean back. This exercise does not require much resistance, so be sure not to walk too far. From the hanging position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your hands away from each other and raise your body up. As you pull your body up, you should try to draw the shoulder blades closer together. Lower in a controlled manner to the hanging position and repeat for a total of 8 to 12 reps. You should be able to keep your arms straight during the whole set.
(4) TRX Row (movement)
Holding onto TRX handles with the palms facing your trunk, walk your feet forward as you lean back. This exercise requires more resistance than the Reverse Fly, so walk farther underneath. From the hanging position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your elbows and arms towards your sides. As you pull your body up, you should try to draw the shoulder blades closer together. Lower in a controlled manner to the hanging position and repeat for a total of 8 to 12 reps. Be sure not to pull so far that your elbows cross the midline of your side.