Crank Up the Cadence - Page 3
Is that it?
The final component that all runners should invest in is a specific strengthening and flexibility routine. Done two to three times a week, a 10-to-15-minute routine will bolster the muscles, tendons and ligaments against injury and fatigue.
Active isolated stretching, the act of contracting one muscle to allow the opposing muscle to relax and lengthen, increases range of motion and promotes circulation. Target your back, glutes, and legs with double-leg pelvis tilts, bent- and straight-leg hamstring stretches, trunk extensions and hip-adductor and -abductor stretches.
Running-specific strengthening exercises can retrain lazy muscles to work more efficiently and quickly fatigued muscles to act with more power. Common examples are core exercises (planks, crunches, side-lying single-leg lifts), squats and lunges.
What does this mean when we’re on the trails?
The temptation is great to vary our form on the trails, especially on technical, steep terrain. However, Waldberg reminds, “Do not alter your cadence. Keep your cadence fixed whether you’re running uphill, downhill or over tricky surfaces.”
A proper cadence while running uphill keeps the major muscle groups (calves, hamstrings and glutes) from fatiguing. A quick and shortened stride allows each muscle to recover between steps.
While running downhill, our tendency is to let gravity do the work, which can lead to over-striding. Maintaining a quick turnover keeps us over our center of gravity, reduces the forces on our quads and knees and allows us to recover from a near fall if we step in a hole or catch a foot on a rock. The same goes for icy and muddy surfaces. Remain over your center of gravity with quick feet to reduce the time spent on these hazardous surfaces and minimize the chance of sliding.
The time is now!
Be proactive instead of reactive. Instead of seeking help after becoming injured, take preventative action. Most of us have inefficiencies that can be identified and worked on, so work toward improving your form today. “Nine times out of 10, the patients I see are already injured when they walk through the door,” says Waldberg. “I’d like to see that trend reversed.”
Veteran trail racer Ian Torrence, 40, of Flagstaff, Arizona, has finished 173 ultras, 24 of which were 100-mile races, and is the lead ultrarunning coach at McMillan Running.