Running Fast and Injury Free

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Running Fast and Injury Free
by Gordon Pirie

Gordon Pirie was a British long distance runner most famous for his silver medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in the 5000 meters. The 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of Records lists Gordon Pirie under the Greatest Mileage entry, stating that he had run a total distance of 347,600 km (216,000 miles) in 40 years to 1981. That’s over 100 miles (160 km) a week every week for 40 years! The irony of this is Pirie gives three reasons why runners get injured, and one of them is too much “long slow distance” (LSD) mileage! In all fairness, he does believe in a balance of various types of running and to include strength training as a component.

Running Fast and Injury Free is partly biographical and partly an outline of Pirie’s training approach. From the introduction:

“In the last 45 years, I have participated in three Olympic Games (winning a Silver Medal in the 5,000 metre race at the 1956 Melbourne Games), and have set five official world records (and a dozen or so more unofficial world bests). I have faced and beaten most of the greatest athletes of my time, and have run to date nearly a quarter of a million miles. Along the way, I have coached several of Great Britain and New Zealand’s best runners some of whom have set their own world records. In addition, I aided the late Adolf (Adi) Dassler (founder of Adidas) in developing spiked racing shoes, on which most of today’s good designs are based. This brief list of some of my accomplishments is presented in order to lend credibility to what follows”.

Pirie lists what he considered the three biggest causes of injury among runners. First, few runners know how to run correctly. Improper technique puts undue strain on the feet, ankles, knees, back and hips, and makes injury inevitable. Second, most running shoes today are designed and constructed that make correct technique impossible (and therefore cause chronic injuries) due to a misconception that a runner should land on his or her heels and then roll forward to the front of the foot with each stride. In designing their shoes, most shoe companies fall prey to this incorrect assumption. Third , is an over-emphasis on mileage in training, especially “long slow distance” (LSD). Without the constant maintenance of a proper balance in training including sprinting, interval training, weights, hills and long-running – a runner’s body simply will not adapt to the stresses it encounters on a day to day basis.

His recommendations on strength training are especially interesting. He devoted an entire chapter to weight training.

A race is an all-out effort over a short period of minutes or seconds. The aim of weight training for runners is to simulate as closely as possible the movements used in running their special event, and hence the demands which racing makes on the body. In this way, the body’s strength can be developed, with an emphasis on ensuring that the body is balanced in strength, and not lopsided with one side stronger than the other, as commonly occurs because most people are either right- or left-handed. A runner should be equally strong in both sides of the body – left and right – and have balanced strength between the front and back of the body… Many of the runners who decry the positive effects of weight training have gained their superior strength with the assistance of a good Doctor or Chemist. Others – like Sebastian Coe and Steve Scott – are open about the significant role that weight training has played in their training… You should aim to work to at least two-thirds or more of your body weight with bar-bells. The ultimate test is to be able to lift the equivalent of your own body weight over your head. When you can do this, you will be strong enough for running events.

Before I began weight training, I was a long distance and cross country runner who could grind it out with anyone, but a constant loser in a sprint. A diet of hard weights, however, turned me
into a complete competitor, one who could pour on the pace and still sprint madly at the finish.

Before getting onto the specifics of an effective weight-training protocol, here are some general guidelines about fitting weights into your overall programme:

How often should one do weight-training?
Every second or third day is about right, along with a full running programme (curtail your weights several days before a race). Your weight training should also continue through the height of the racing season. Do not give away all the good training you have done just when you need the greatest amount of strength.

How hard should the weight-training be?
There are two types of weight sessions: (1) a full-out session in which you do all and every exercise as hard as you can; and (2) an easier session with half-dosages of fewer exercises. It is not uncommon for a tired runner to feel much fitter after a moderate session with the weights. These sessions seem to flush out your muscles. On the other hand, the full-out, go-for-it, maximum sessions tend to put the body down a bit, and numb it for a while; so those sessions should never be attempted near to a race day (say within six days). The body does cope easily with easy routines, however, and I sometimes even find that a few exercises with strong weights before a three-hour running session can bring fantastic strength into the running, making it feel much easier. I have always found my best running fitness – when I was able to set world records and finish races in stunning fashion – to be absolutely tied in with my best form with the weights. The stronger I was at grappling with the weights (combined with a lot of hard running), the better I was on race day.

Pirie is basically describing a HLM (Heavy-Light-Medium) template, 2-3 times per week, recommending to warm up light and then ramp up to a weight you can handle with good form for about six repetitions and then increase in each session in a steady, programmed manner from there. Free weights are ideal and lifts specifically recommended include presses (working up to pressing a barbell loaded to bodyweight over head), rows (using 2/3 bodyweight and increasing from there), cleans, deadlifts (starting at bodyweight and increasing from there), and chin ups. This is very similar to the advice given by noted strength coach and competitive lifter, Bill Starr.

Running Fast and Injury Free
by Gordon Pirie
Free download:
https://www.scribd.com/document/13695/Gordon-Pirie-s-Running-Fast-and-Injury-Free/

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-5k-not-the-marathon-is-the-ideal-race/

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Learning By Competing

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Bill Starr was one of the great strength athletes and coaches, having competed and won at Weightlifting up through Olympic levels, Powerlifting, and then taking what he learned and coaching others to do the same. Knowledgeable practitioners in the strength and conditioning field recognize him as one of the innovators. His efforts are a primary reason why sport teams recognize the benefit of Strength and Conditioning coaches.

Starr was an ideal trainer and coach, having first formally competed and achieved success to validate his knowledge before teaching others. He learned what he knew by competing.

And as I learned from fellow competitors in the ensuing years, that’s what they did as well. It was an intuitive process out of necessity. There were no coaches to tell us this, and no one was actively writing about it in the magazines. That’s how we learned just about everything about lifting heavy weights: trial and error, then sitting back and considering just what had been done, both pro and con.

This seldom happens currently. When a strength athlete hits a wall in his routine, he doesn’t study the problem and come up with a viable solution. Rather, he seeks advice from the bounty of experts out there, via books, videos, clinics and DVDs. That’s certainly much faster and easier, but at the same time it’s less effective. Having to beat your head against a wall until you solve the riddle about your program is much more beneficial than having someone else come up with the answer.

Be like Starr. If you want to learn your discipline better and faster, compete!

More:
http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Starr_HeavyLight_Starr.pdf

http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/the-light-heavy-and-medium-system/

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