• Plyometrics

    Plyometrics are one of the best things a runner to can besides running

    There is a secret to running faster.

    The problem is, the secret is different for everyone.

    But, if there's one thing that's going to be high on the list of secrets, it's going to be plyometrics.  Read More

  • Skills You Need to Run Well

    Skills you need to run well.

    You've probably realized already that being a runner is not just going out and running.

    Having success (happiness?) as an athlete is a combination of many small tasks and skills thrown together.

    These are the little things.

    Things we may not realize early on in our running, but they tend to always show up either on purpose or on their own.

    Perhaps one of the below skills needs bit of a refresher in your head? Hopefully you can recognize this and take the reminder to heart!

    Ability to Run Easy

    Michael Sandrock said that "most of us make the mistake of going medium-hard all the time." when he discussed the training of Frank Shorter. Sandrock claims one of Shorter's secrets was the stark contrast between how easy his easy days were and how hard is hard days where. The easy miles should take up roughly 75% of our total weekly volume. Low effort running allows us to run more and more miles without hindering our ability to both recover and run hard when we need to.

    In training, it is difficult to not rush, but much of the joy I find in running comes from those easy days.

    Willpower to Not Run

    One of the cited reason for success of the East African runners is that they have no issue if they must end a run early due to a twinge. Even taking a few days off or very light should not be a bother.

    What is so important to remember is the first goal of running should be to run consistently over a long term period of time. This is impossible to do if you're in a injury-rest-train cycle.

    If you have noticed you lack this willpower, getting a coach can be helpful. They are not influenced by your need to run when you should not!

    You can Accept Discomfort

    Paul O'Neil spoke of discomfort when discussing the mile race. “A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering.

    There are ways to make it more manageable, and practice is important. Every tempo run, track workout, or tune-up race you do is telling your brain that the suffering is ok. It will end.

    Do the Extra Work

    The final reminder is about all the ancillary duties that can be done outside of a run to make you a better athlete.

    In his book, Ready to Run, Kelly Starrett asks you to take 10 minutes every day and perform some strength or maintenance work. These could include plyometrics, strength work, rolling, or stretching. These little things, done every day, can make a drastic difference in your ability to injury proof your body!

    Kyle Kranz

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  • How to Warm Up

    A grade school memory of mine is from the required track & field day.

    I decided to run in one of the shorter sprinting races, probably the 100m, of which I have no actual recollection of.

    However I do recall deciding to not warm up for the all. Why would I want to run and waste energy, before having to race?

    I came in last. Read More

  • Scheduling strength around running

    How to schedule strength work around a running routine.

    The timing of when to perform strength work and when to run is an often pondered question.

    Answering this mainly depends on how difficult the run is and how much residual fatigue will come from the strength session. Read More

  • Strength Training

    "The wind is your friend. When it's with you, it makes you faster. When it's against you, it makes you stronger."

    Traditionally strength work is thought of as lifting weights in the gym.

    More recently, it has evolved to performing functional workouts named "Fran" and "Barbara", or simply dynamic full body workouts like hitting a huge tire with a sledge hammer.

    Yet the easiest and most sport specific method for runners to perform strength work, is still to run!

    There are multiple methods of improving upon your run specific strength while out on the trail or road. Whether you decide to incorporate them into your workouts or have them forced upon you by a coach, the terrain, or mother nature, recognize their benefit and enjoy them!

    All the below types of running stresses your muscles in ways that simply running forward at constant and easy/moderate efforts do not. This happens either by fighting resistance such as wind or gravity, moving laterally while on a trail, or neurologically via speed work on the track. Everything from you arms through your core and all the way down to the muscles that stabilize your ankles will benefit from these workouts.

    At least once a week, try to add some type of spice to your workouts!

    Speed Work

    Carrying Heavy Stuff




  • How Running Benefits other Sports

    I’m not a runner, at least not first. First, I’m a snowboarder.

    Then, summertime rolls around. Luckily I live in Portland, with Timberline’s 11 month winter only a short drive away.

    Winter may be fun for a little while, but it never lasts. Plus, a little summer break filled with warm-weather fun helps refresh me for that time when the powder piles up again.

    That’s why every summer the snowboard boots hit the closet and the running shoes come out. Running and snowboarding are hardly antagonistic activities. They support each other amazingly. Snowboarding makes heavy demands on your body, chiefly on the lungs and lower body. Real running is just the tool to develop those qualities.

    Six hours of intervals

    When I start running more in the spring the first place I notice it is in my lungs, and I notice it quickly. No surprise there, right? I let a chairlift do most of my winter work. It’s only my effort about half the time and then I still get a big boost from gravity. The thing is, when I snowboard a six-hour day is average. That’s a lot of laps! When was the last time you did six hours of sprint intervals? A different take is hiking, snowshoeing or splitboarding to the tops of lines. The biggest effort grants the biggest reward. In that scenario, a few hours of uphill might grant one, 10-minute run. I vary my running to mimic this. Most of my training consists of interval work in the one to two minute range with a full recovery. A couple times a month, I’ll add in longer efforts.

    Getting my feet out of clunky snowboard boots and into svelte, zero-drop runners is akin to removing the casts from freshly healed feet. It takes time every spring to get used to it, but the reward of stronger feet is unmatched. Make no mistake, snowboarders’ feet are not invincible inside their boots. They’re subject to serious damage from heel bruises to broken ankles. Also, check out the calves, half crammed into the same footwear. Same story. Snowboarders’ calves put in work every turn. Just like real running where the midfoot strike builds the foot, ankle and calf with every stride. My first few sessions in the spring leave my calves barking.

    In the upper-leg department, snowboarding is more quad-dominant than real running, which favors the hamstring. Cross training with running provides some nice balance to an area that can get imbalanced if a rider decides to snowboard year-round. This balance is crucial to not only your leg musculature, but your hip and knee health as well.

    Have a near snowboarding experience!

    Speaking of balance, snowboarding is heavily dependent on that skill. The best snowboarders always have impeccable balance. I was once in a packed bus full of snowboarders - in various states of intoxication - when the driver suddenly hit the brakes. Not one of them even wobbled. One way we can train this critical quality in the summer is through trail running. If you’ve ever found yourself blazing a steep downhill section of trail with trees blurring past on either side, picking up more speed than you know what to do with, you’ve had a near-snowboarding experience! You better know where your feet are and be able to react to the varying rocks, roots and branches or you’ll end up eyeball to eyeball with the slugs before you know it.

    At the end of your training day, just think about what a day snowboarding looks like to your body. In those six hours you go through hundreds of squats, calf raises, jumps, twists and landings with the occasional violent crash if you’re not careful. There isn't any single exercise that can get you ready for that. But if you have a solid base from real running in a variety of speeds, distances and terrains, your body will thank you with peak performance in your powdery paradise.

    Not only does running in lower profile and flexible shoes help activities such as snowboarding, but it benefits all aspect of our lives. Physical activity strengthens our bones and muscles, improves balance and general well-being.

    So go out, Run Real and enjoy life!

    Graham is a SKORA Ambassador and helps represent the brand in and around our home of Portland, Oregon.

    You may also like: 5 Tenets of Minimalist Footwear Your 5 New Favorite Speed Workouts

  • Is Complementary Training Right For You?

    SKORA Forms for the APFT

    “Military leaders have always recognized that the effectiveness of Soldiers depends largely on their physical condition. Full spectrum operations place a premium on the Soldier's strength, stamina, agility, resiliency, and coordination. Victory—and even the Soldier's life—so often depends upon these factors.” – FM 7-22

    As runners, we know that generally the lighter we are, the faster our body can move. Yet, as I train for running, I have learned to love cross-training. The first reason is simply because the Army requires me to, and second because there are goals to be accomplished in the gym as well. Without cross-training or complementary training (as I just heard in a recent podcast) I may be able to devout more time to running, but would not do well at the mandatory Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Since 2009 I've had to maintain a high level of overall fitness to meet the requirements. It’s not only motivated me in the gym but has lead me to enjoy my runs more as well. Lastly, I’ve been able to accomplish more goals through complementary training.

    The APFT is two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and finishes with a two-mile run. 75 push-ups, 80 sit-ups, and a 13:00 two-mile are my goals on the APFT. It is designed to ensure the maintenance of a base level of physical fitness which is essential for every Soldier, regardless of job or location. I have used Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance as my complementary training since December 2011 and it has worked very well to keep me out of injury. Core work is a huge part of Crossfit and I would recommend starting there.

    You don’t even have to step in a gym to do planks, sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups. Those four exercises can be a starting foundation for strength complementary training. However, I would not stop there. Don’t be afraid to step into the gym. Every time I find myself hitting a plateau I know its time to hit the weights more. I’m not saying that we need to add to our workout hours, but when we are in a base building phase, we should split off a bit of time for the gym.

    Finally, we can always be growing as runners. Whether adding in speed workout or adding complementary training like yoga, Pilates, or getting in the gym and doing some Crossfit or finding a foundational strength training program. If you just run for the joy and release, that is excellent, but if you've found your times becoming stagnant don’t be afraid to start devoting a few of those running minutes to complementary training.

    Respectfully, -- Alex Bridgeforth 1LT, SC SKORA Ambassador @alexbridgeforth

    You may also be interested in: Activated Isolation Stretching 10 Reasons Why You're Not Improving The Specifics of "Run Real" Your New 5 Favorite Speed Workouts

  • Barefoot Running as Strength Training

    Lets look at a couple studies and discuss how to apply them to training.

    The first is a five month study titled Effect Of Increased Mechanical Stimuli On Foot Muscles Functional Capacity was done to look at how muscles adapted to wearing minimal shoes compared to more traditional footwear.

    The intervention was putting an experimental group of 25 athletes into minimal shoes for their warm up training, while the 25 members of the control group wore traditional training shoes.

    In this experimental group, strength of multiple foot muscles increased. The control group's strength scores increase only a quarter as much. There were also significant increases found in the anatomical cross sectional area of some of the foot muscles in the experimental group.

    The conclusions of the researchers were that the use of minimal footwear caused changes in the strength and morphology in muscles that were more intensively used by the wearers of these shoes as opposed to the wearers of traditional shoes.

    The second study, titled Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus Shod found that wearing light and flexible minimal shoes required less energy than running barefoot. The researchers believe that without the cushioning, leg muscles had to use metabolic energy to absorb some of the impact forces.

    Lets think about these two studies from a training and racing perspective. 1. Running barefoot is less economic than wearing lightweight cushioned shoes. 2. Warming up in minimalist instead of tradition shoes leads to increases in strength.

    Now lets step back for a second. If warming up and doing strength training in minimalist shoes offers benefits to traditional shoes, could performing those routines barefoot offer some advantage over doing them in minimalist shoes? Unshod running may be less efficient. But that also can mean it forces the body to work slightly harder, which can result in more training stimulus.

    A swimmer’s drag suit can be used as an analogy. It is worn during training to create drag and force the athlete to work harder. Running barefoot appears to make body work harder as well. If we occasionally use barefoot running like a swimmer uses a drag suit, it can do a number of things; Increase the stimulus from training while barefoot Strengthen muscles Cause a feeling of increased efficiency while shod

    Barefoot training can be used as a strength training tool, like a drag suit. But when it comes time for a key workout or a race, where speed matters, wearing a pair of cushioned shoes may have its place due to the potential increase in efficiency.

    The methods of implementing these ideas into your training could be to do as the first study did, use less shoe (or no shoe) during your warm up than you do while training. This can also be done for any strength training and the cool down at the end of a run. Second, short and easy recovery runs can be done barefoot as well. Doing so will not slow recovery, but can still lead to benefits from the barefoot training.

    Jason F over at Strength Running also has similar thoughts on using minimalist shoes and barefoot as a strength training tool.

    What are your thoughts? Can barefoot running be used as a strength training tool?

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