This is the time of year when you see countless runners hitting the pavement as the weather gets warmer and the sun is brightly shining. The time has come to shed the layers of winter sweaters for tank tops and shorts. It is the time of year when you notice that you have perhaps taken on a ‘hibernation strategy’ over the winter season and have added a little extra body fat that you now would like to drop. Or perhaps you are a new runner who has been anxiously awaiting a chance to run outside now that our winter season has wrapped up.
This is the time of year where you see countless “learn to run” clinics being advertised. Seems like the right approach; sign-up for a running clinic, learn how to run, and drop that weight while enjoying the warmer spring weather. Seems like a great strategy – but perhaps you might not realize that your running clinic is far from what you actually need if you want to learn how to run.
Here’s a scenario for you:
You want to get in ‘better shape’ (aka drop some body fat and get lean) and you decide you want to strength train to accomplish that goal (ps this would be an awesome strategy!!) I advertise a clinic to help you squat. Perhaps you have even recently entered a squatting competition and need to squat for 10min straight, so you think you will join a squat clinic, learn how to squat, hit your goal AND get in better shape and ready for summer.
So you come to my squat clinic, I tell you about how I have squatted (which is a lot in my life…) my experience squatting, what I think about when I squat, what clothes I wear when I squat and what shoes I wear when I squat. My “training program” for you is going to consist of the following:
session #1 – we are going to squat for 1min.
session #2 – we are going to squat for 2min.
session #3 – we are going to squat for 3min.
session #4 – we going to squat for 4min.
session #5 – we are going to squat up and down a hill
In my hypothetical squat clinic I’m not going to show you how to properly squat (where your feet should be, how your body should move through the squat, what muscles are the primary movers in the squat, recovery techniques or the biomechanics of the squat movement) no – that would be crazy. We will be in a group, we will have some laughs, you will buy lots of gear from me so you have all the right attire when you squat, but no, I’m not going to show you how to squat.
If you want to join my squatting clinic then I need to ask you an important question.
WTF are you thinking?
BUT more importantly, for those who see the comparison here to most running clinics, why is it acceptable for running clinics to bypass the part where they show their participants HOW TO RUN.
There is technique involved in squatting as there is with running. I’m not a running coach, so I’m not the person to be teaching you how to run, but I do know some fantastic coaches who do and they would all say the same thing:
You must train to run. One comes before the other.
It wasn’t until recently with our studio expansion that I have watched some of my training clients run in our conditioning studio. These are all veteran runners who have completed multiple marathons, 1/2 marathons, triathlons, warrior/spartan races and short distance runs. What I was most surprised to discover was that these members (who have all attended running clinics) had improper running technique (I’m not going to lie…it was pretty bad). They always have excessively tight calves, hamstrings and quads after their runs. After watching these veteran runners sprint down the turf I realized where the huge disconnect was happening. They hadn’t been taught the proper technique behind one of the activities they love to do the most in their running clinics.
People sell themselves short when it comes to taking care of their most precious tool – their body. If your body is hurt, if your body is tired, if your body is not moving in a pain free optimal way – than you need to fix it. If you like to run I think that is great! But trust me, you will enjoy it more when you know HOW TO RUN and do so without the pain.
See Jane run.
See Jane run with horrible running form in high heel running shoes.
See Jane the next day barely able to move because her calves and quads are so tight she can barely walk.
Jane needs to help.