AskCoachDeb
 

This months questions come from comments left on a couple of different blog posts during the last month… Please send your training and running questions my way by commenting below. 

 

Question: I’d love some more ITB stretching tips! Even though I foam roll, mine always seem tight! ~ Asked by Michelle from Movin’ It With Michelle in the comments of last month’s Ask Coach Deb.

Coach Deb: I’d definitely recommend adding stretches and strengthening exercises to your foam rolling self-treatment of your IT (Iliotibial) band. There were two main IT band stretches I did that helped move me past a major ITBS flareup I got during the later half of the JFK 50-Miler

To do the first stretch:

  • Upper IT Band Stretch
  • Stand with your left foot crossed in front of your right foot
  • Using your left hand, grab hold of a solid stationary object for counter balance
  • Allow your head to fall toward your left arm as your hip moves away from your anchor point
  • Feel the stretch in the upper end of your right IT Band nearer the hip
  • Hold stretch for 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat on the opposite side

To do the second stretch:

  • Lower IT Band Stretch
  • Stand with your left foot crossed in front of your right foot
  • With your core engaged, bend over and reach your fingers toward the toe of your right foot
  • Feel the stretch in lower lower end of your right IT Band nearer the knee
  • Hold stretch for 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat on the opposite side

While researching for names of the two above stretches (I didn’t find them), I found this new-to-me stretch that seems worth trying. This stretch also hits the front and side of the leg, which, if you’re like most runners you tend to ignore until something flares up.

 

Once my ITBS cleared up, I never had a problem with it again. I’m confident that focusing on strengthening my legs, glutes, and hips was key in keeping it at bay. Exercises generally prescribed to strengthen and complement runners’ legs and butt include:

  • Single-leg squats
  • Supine single-leg bridge hip extension
  • Clam shells
  • Side lunges
  • Lunges 
  • Lateral walk with resistance

 

Question: What are your top 5 exercises/drills (more if you want!) to help prevent injury? I try to be very careful about how I run, strength train, warm up (usually), foam roll (usually), and yet I still end up with nagging injuries. ~ Asked by Judy from ChocolateRunsJudy in my Valentine’s Day giveaway post.

Coach Deb: Oh my goodness, what an open ended question! I suppose I could go on and on, but first I’d ask what specific types of injuries you’re getting – shin splints, plantar fasciitis, ITBS, Achilles tendinitis, etc. because there are specific exercises to each of these areas. Running injuries generally come from overuse (simply doing more than your body can handle or doing too much too quickly), not having the strength to perform the activity correctly, and accidents. 

Since accidents are mainly out of our control, I won’t dwell on those other than to say…

  • Keep things picked up off the floor to avoid tripping
  • Don’t wear earbuds listening to loud music when running near traffic or on secluded trails
  • Avoid running on icy trails or wooded areas on high-wind days
  • Always be alert looking for the unexpected

Injury often results from overuse or doing too much too quickly; therefore…

  • Gradually build your running base (I still adhere to the 10-15% rule when building mileage)
  • Allow time in your training cycle to be properly trained for your race
  • Know your limits and don’t push them, especially as you age 
  • Respect your body’s capabilities
  • Listen to your body

Considering that injury often occurs as a result of the body not being strong enough to perform the activity put before it, exercises to strengthen key running muscle groups should be included in your exercise routine. If you have specific reoccurring injuries, you’ll need to do exercises and stretches to address that specific area. Below are my favorite exercises and stretches to help prevent running injuries in general…

  • Single-leg squats
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Supine single-leg bridge hip extension
  • Extended single-leg reclined hamstring stretch
  • Lightning pose
  • Cobbler’s pose

 

Question: How do you fit it all in? Strength training/cross training is so important when training, but it can be hard to fit it in with all of the running required for training for a half marathon, or a marathon. ~ Asked by Kimberly from Kooky Runner in my Valentine’s Day giveaway post.

Coach Deb: That’s a common concern I hear from my runners training for longer races. Time management is key; therefore, I have my runners add all of their workouts to their calendars so it’s part of their day. Also, I encourage them to complete their workout earlier in the day whenever possible so it doesn’t become a casualty if work or life in general gets out of hand.

Finding a cross-training friendly training plan will certainly help when it comes to fitting those non-running workouts into your week. A training plan that requires six days of running is going to make it impossible for you to fit cross-training into your week. I usually recommend biking, rowing, or swimming as options for cross-training. Ellipticals mimic the running motion and even though they are much easier on the joints than running, they are too similar to be considered a true cross-training exercise (unless you need to substitute a run with an elliptical workout because of an injury, then using an elliptical is great).

I’d recommend coming up with a basic full-body strength training program that will complement your running. As your mileage increases, available time for strength training will decrease. Between training cycles is the time to increase strength; however, it’s important to maintain strength during training cycles. Try to hit the major muscle groups in a 30 to 45-minute routine at least twice a week.

 

For answers to other questions you might have missed, check out my Coaching tab for previous Ask Coach Deb installments.

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you complement your running with strength training?
  • How often do you stretch?
  • What questions would you like to see answered next time?

 

Happy Running! ~ Deb