By John Withinshaw
I've been training quite hard for one of my biggest challenges to date and if you are a runner/athlete I'm sure you understand how all-consuming training can be.
What I would like to do going forward is to share with you what I've been doing and why I've been doing it, what I've learned and maybe you'll be able to integrate it in to your training to help you as much as it has helped me.
Now, I'm not going to blurt on about what challenge I'm training for or when it is (although it is very soon). Those of you who know me directly will already be aware and those who don't will find out soon.
What I want to avoid are any comparisons between us and just get across that what I am sharing with you will work for your running.
Some things are going to appear pretty bizarre and bloody hard at first but trust me, I'm talking from first-hand experience, this works if you want to get faster, better, stronger, run longer, harder and generally become more robust an athlete.
The first thing I'm going to share with you is ideal those who don't have much time to get the long miles in, or, you just want to make the distance you're currently training for as comfortable as possible.
Now this is going to sound fairly awful but please believe me when I say that one of these sessions per week (or more if you're feeling really masochistic) will have a massive impact on your running.
The idea is that before you go for your run you complete these exercises whilst carrying some weight to really work the legs hard before you go out. This will simulate, depending how much weight you use, having already completed a substantially hard run or some hill work.
Click each heading to see a video of how this works.
Weighted Walking Lunges:- We used a weighted jacket and heavy Bulgarian bags for this - weighing approx 47kg. The first session was 12 steps each leg on an incline with a running 2:30 on the clock for each round. What time was left was rest before going again - for a total of 6 rounds. Choose your weights wisely and don't start too heavy. You actually want to be able to complete this and not kill yourself. Each week add 1 step per leg onto your session up to about 17 each side.
2 - 3 minutes rest........
Weighted Step Downs:- With the same weight on your shoulders. Find a bench that is about knee height from the ground, any higher and you will struggle and run the risk of injury. A strong core is essential here and be sure to always start with your weakest leg. Perform 150 step downs, 75/leg using this format;
25 - left/25 - right20 - left/20 - right15 - left/15 - right10 - left/10 - right5 - left/5 - right
Bringing the stepping knee up and tapping with your opposite hand will guarantee you get full extension on the working leg. Make sure you touch down with your heel to the floor every time. No half measures here. It will take you as long as it takes you but aim to beat your time each week. Trust me it is possible.
2 - 3 minutes rest........
Weighted Ski Jump Squats:- Just when you think it's all over, it's time to ditch the extra bag and carry on with just the weighted vest. Basically still use weight but less of it (it will also work without weight if you're building yourself up). Set a timer for 2 minutes and do as many squats as possible. The ski jump squat is essentially 1-1/2 squats with a little jump. Try and beat your score each week.
Now you ditch all the weight, grab some water and run like Bambi for a while. Start with a reasonable distance closely related to what you're training for. Then increase that distance each week by about 2 km.
Do this entire session every week for 6 - 8 weeks depending on how far you're running, how much you can handle or when your specific event is.
Your legs will feel very special and you will actually feel a little out of control the first time you do this so beware, particularly if you go out and head downhill straight away. Jelly is a word that springs to mind.
Feel free to fire me some questions or let me know what you think and how you get on. Hell, you can even hurl some abuse and tell me it was the hardest thing you've ever done, it was for me but I loved it at the same time. All the same I'd love to know.
In Fitness & In Health
John 'Leg Hell' Withinshaw