The New York City Marathon is 40 days away (but who’s counting 🙂 ). That means about 30 days of training and 10 days of taper. For those of you running NYC or another fall marathon, here are a few ways to navigate these final weeks of training:
-Your main priority now is getting to the start line healthy, rested and excited!!Resist the temptation to overdo it or overtrain. No, now is not the time to add in a new strength program. And if your knee has been hurting for a few days, skip the workout and let it rest. In the final weeks, less is more.
-Trust the plan and have confidence in your training. Worrying if you should have done something different will only cause unnecessary stress. Your friend is running longer runs than you? It’s ok. That is their training. Know that YOUR training is right for YOU.
-Treat your remaining long runs as dress rehearsals for the big day. Practice running at the same time of day as the race, determine the best pre-race breakfast and fine tune your fueling strategy. It might sound silly but test out your outfit and shoe / sock choice during one of your long runs. Suprise chafing on race day is a total buzz kill.
-Celebrate the journey, the sacrifices, the miles logged and the memories made. Getting to the starting line is an accomplishment in and of itself. Be proud of how far you’ve come.
Hi team! We’re back, and excited to share the next installment of the BODY series. Last month we did a deep dive into hip and pelvis health. We got great feedback and are pleased that you found this information to be so helpful. Today, we look at ankles and feet; how they function in running and what we can do to make sure we’re set up for success.
Check out the video and accompanying text as we carefully walk you through some game-changing ankle and feet exercises and share the “why” behind the importance of incorporating these into your training routine.
Part I: Foot and Ankle Function by Coach Emmi
Hey Team. Coach Emmi here @emmiaguillard_dpt. Today I am going to discuss how the ankle & feet function in running.
When a runner’s foot hits the ground, the ankle and foot joint rotate inward to help absorb the shock of hitting the ground and transfer kinetic energy up the chain. This is referred to as pronation.
When a runner pushes off from the ground, the ankle and foot joints adopt a more rigid lever (think of the new carbon plate running shoes) to maximize the amount of power that is propelling you forward. This is supination.
Having a foot that is mobile enough to pronate AND strong enough to supinate is critical for efficient and injury-free running.
In the video above (min 0:00-1:07), I demonstrate pronation and supination and how these movements function in running. I encourage you to stand up and give this a try at home.
Do you feel like you might have a foot that’s a little too flexible, or perhaps too rigid? Keep watching as Coach Carly breaks down how to work on improving the mobility in your ankles and feet.
Part II: Foot and Ankle Mobility by Coach Carly
Hi! Coach Carly here from Team Wilpers @carlyg_dpt . I am going to discuss how to make sure to have pronation and supination in your feet and ankles by doing mobility work that reinforces these motions. The exercises in the video (min 1:10-2:42) are great for everyone as a part of a maintenance routine and even more important for those who feel that they have a ‘rigid’ or ‘stiff’ foot.
Just like we encourage daily hip mobility work (TW athletes you know what I’m talking about), the feet and ankles need some love as well. Mobility exercises also ensure that force is properly dispersed during high impact activities – like running!
The first video (min 1:10) gives you two options of ankle and foot MOBILITY exercises to help increase rangesof motion. These are good to do before and after your runs to get your feet and ankles unlocked.
The second video is an ACTIVATION exercise (min 2:00) to help get the deeper muscles in the foot to turn on and support the ‘supination’ movement that happens when you push off. Activating your deep foot muscles is also good to do before and after your runs. It is especially important for those people that think they have a ‘flexible’ foot.
Try out these exercises and let me know if you have any questions. Please share with anyone you know who may have foot issues. Let’s all stay heathy and strong!
Next, Coach Ryan will share some ways to strengthen the feet and ankles. 💪
Part III: Foot & Ankle Strengthening by Coach Ryan
Hey Team, Ryan here @sslryan strength coach for Team Wilpers. For the third part of the TW BODY Series, I am going to explain how to strengthen the foot and ankles. *Keep in mind that FUNCTION (addressed above with Emmi) and MOBILITY (discussed with Carly), are critical components to understand before you strength train.
Foot and ankle strength and stability is important because strength issues of the foot/ankle will be felt up the kinetic chain (knees, hips, lower back).
To improve these interactions, here are a few exercises to get your feet/ankles strong (min 2:44-3:09).
In the first video, I demonstrate a standing circular calf raise. This exercise is a controlled articulation of the foot and ankle. You want to work both clockwise and counter clockwise on these. Go slowly and really try to feel what is going on as you move. Try to go back and forth for 5 reps each way.
You can do this exercise as part of your warm-up before training or include it in your strength circuit.
In the second video, I demonstrate the stationary toe tap exercise. There is a dynamic aspect as weight distribution rapidly switches from one foot/ankle to the other forcing you to get strong and rigid upon ground contact. This is a great exercise for runners who want pop and stability through the gait cycle. The trick here is to move almost exclusively through the foot / ankle. Try not to lift and flex the hips much.
Do these just before your running drills, during your run warmup. Try going for 30-60 secs. To build strength, hold smaller dumbbells and do 20-30 reps or so 1x.
Give these exercises a try. If you are interested in a full Team Wilpers strength program to compliment your training, check out our private coaching services at Team Wilpers Coaching. For questions please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks team and as always … Train Hard, Train Smart and Always Have Fun!
As a cyclist and coach I have developed a love and appreciation for the finer details in cycling, including the pedal stroke. Having ridden with and/or coached riders from beginner to professional, I get excited when I see a cyclist with a beautiful pedal stroke. It looks so smooth and efficient that you start to question whether the rider has to exert any effort at all to turn the pedals over! On the flip side, some pedal strokes look very inefficient if not downright painful. This begs the question, how does one perfect their pedal stroke?
While I have done my fair share of research on this subject, the science and general consensus continually change. Nowadays, we know riders can achieve profound pedal stroke improvements from:
1) Understanding what constitutes an efficient pedal stroke.
2) Applying mental cues on how to move our bodies properly while on the bike.
3) Being set up properly on our bikes.
4) Continually working on improving our pedal stroke with drills and practice.
Let’s have a closer look!
So, What is the “perfect pedal stroke“? The overwhelming consensus is that there is no perfect pedal stroke that can be applied to every rider universally. Even the pros don’t have a perfect pedal stroke – and that’s okay! As a coach, I have often instructed riders to think of pedaling in circles, but it turns out this advice has some short comings. In fact, striving for a perfect circle is not sustainable, and over time will likely reduce one’s efficiency of movement. The best and most consistent advice I’ve found is to focus on optimizing your economy of movement and your economy of power.
Let’s discuss these last two points: “economy of movement” and “economy of power”. When we think of “economy” we think of total energy expenditure for a given effort. Thus, when one improves their economy, this means that they are spending less energy for a given effort. In the cyclist’s case, we are talking about optimizing movement between the body and the bike. For example, producing the same amount of power with less effort/energy (i.e. “economy of power”).
However, in order to get our bodies working more harmoniously with the bike, we need to start with how we think about moving our bodies while on the bike. Here are two mental cues that can help:
Imagine the motion of scraping mud or gum off from the bottom of your shoe. You will find that this specific movement begins with driving downward from the heel and following through at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This imagery works well for many riders.
Think about executing your pedal stroke the same as you would the front crawl (or freestyle) when swimming. In freestyle, we don’t actually scoop up water in the back of the stroke to propel ourselves forward, just like we should not think of pulling up on the backside of the pedal stroke to create power. Instead, think about initiating your pedal stroke earlier just like in freestyle when we bring the arm back up over the top to complete the stroke.
Why is a proper bike fit essential to developing a good pedal stroke? This is where things start to get personal. Often you’ll hear me talk about engaging the glutes, relaxing the shoulders and avoid solely relying on the quads for power. This is all much easier to accomplish when you are set up properly on your bike and vice versa. Without proper set up, you may never fully harness the compounding efficiencies that come from using all available muscle groups. For questions about your set up, contact a professional bike fitter in your area or schedule a virtual appointment with a Team Wilpers’ bike fit expert here.
What are some drills that riders can do to improve their pedal stroke? Drills help us reestablish, reinforce and refine proper movement. Here are some simple drills you can include in your training to help improve your pedal stroke:
Spin-ups: I know many of you won’t be surprised to learn that I love spin-ups. A ‘spin-up’ is where you pedal at a high cadence and low resistance for 30 sec to 1 min and focus on using your body to control the pedals and avoid bouncing. Spin-ups are great to do as a drill to get your mind, body and bike working together efficiently and 3-6 of them usually do the trick. I like these because the higher cadence efforts force your brain and body to communicate so that your legs find the path of least resistance to a smoother pedal stroke. I can always tell when my brain and body are not getting along because these will feel really rough haha!
Single-leg Pedal Strokes: If you have taken any of my Low Impact classes at Peloton, you’ve done these. Here you are just focusing on isolating one leg at a time to pedal with. Just like in weightlifting, isolating sides helps you uncover and correct any imbalances and inefficiencies that would otherwise remain muted or too subtle to notice when both sides are working together. You can keep both legs clipped in or even unclip the leg that you are not pedaling with. However, in both cases it is important to keep the hips level in the saddle as if both legs were clipped and being used. I like to do 2-4 sets of one minute or longer on each side. In terms of cadence, I recommend starting slow and then working your way up to higher cadences.
Practice Thoughtfully: Likely the best drill of all is just getting on the bike and riding more. Afterall, more pedal strokes = more practice! But, while you are getting after it, remember to keep working at smoothing out your pedal stroke, especially during warm-ups and cool-downs.
Team, I hope you enjoyed uncovering some of the nuances of pedal stroke! For more practice and tips on perfecting your pedal stroke, please check out my Low Impact classes at Peloton. And to get your fit dialed-in, schedule an appointment with a member of Team Wilpers Bike Fit. Until next time, remember to train hard, train smart and always have fun!