Introduction: In the realm of health and wellness, few activities rival the enduring passion that runners have for their sport. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting to lace up your sneakers, the journey of running holds a unique allure that transcends age, background, and experience. We had the privilege of speaking with Jason Fitzgerald, the founder of Strength Running, a coaching business that focuses on helping runners achieve their best performances while staying injury-free. With over a decade of competitive running and coaching experience, Jason sheds light on the significance of strength training, personal growth, and the pursuit of excellence in the world of running.
The Love Affair with Running: Jason's journey as a runner began at the age of 14, when he stumbled into the world of cross country and immediately fell in love with the sport. What captivated him was the tangible sense of improvement. Like many runners, he found joy in tracking his progress, maintaining a training journal, and systematically working towards better performance metrics. This upward trajectory, the feeling that there's always something to improve, is a driving force that many runners can resonate with, regardless of their current level of expertise or experience.
Strength Running: The Confluence of Power and Endurance In 2010, Jason founded Strength Running, a coaching platform aimed at helping runners achieve their peak potential. The name itself carries a profound message. Strength in this context isn't merely about physical power; it encompasses the entire spectrum of attributes that contribute to becoming a successful runner. From muscular strength to mental resilience, from endurance to injury prevention, Strength Running encapsulates the holistic essence of running as a sport.
Dispelling Misconceptions: Strength Training for Runners When it comes to running, there's a common misconception that strength training is the adversary of performance. Some runners fear that incorporating strength exercises might lead to unwanted bulk, hampering their speed and agility. However, Jason dispels this myth by emphasizing that strength training is an integral part of a runner's training regimen, especially if you're aiming for specific performance goals. He draws a parallel to the concept of improvement in any endeavor—a podcaster examining download numbers, a weightlifter measuring gains, or a runner tracking personal bests. All of these journeys thrive on the concept of incremental growth, which strength training bolsters significantly.
The Vital Role of Strength Training As Jason highlights, strength training isn't cross training for runners; it's a fundamental component of training. In the context of injury prevention, running isn't as low-impact as it might appear. Each footfall subjects the body to considerable impact force, which can lead to injuries if the body isn't adequately prepared to absorb and manage it. Strength training, along with its muscle-building benefits, plays a crucial role in improving overall resilience and preventing injuries.
Longevity Through Balanced Training The conversation takes an intriguing turn as Jason addresses the concept of longevity. As runners age, the importance of a balanced training approach becomes even more apparent. Not only does strength training aid in muscle preservation, but it also contributes to joint health, metabolic efficiency, and overall well-being. Jason points out that striking a harmonious balance between cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength is key to not only performing well in races but also enjoying a fulfilling and active life in the long run.
The Pursuit of Excellence Jason's journey from a young runner to an experienced coach underscores the beauty of continuous learning and growth. Just as he helps his athletes avoid the mistakes he made during his training, his guidance offers valuable insights for anyone striving to make running a lifelong passion. His journey reinforces the idea that excellence isn't an end point but an ongoing pursuit—one that demands dedication, resilience, and a strategic approach to training.
Conclusion As we conclude our conversation with Jason Fitzgerald, the passion and enthusiasm he exudes for running are palpable. His experiences, wisdom, and dedication highlight the profound impact that running can have on our lives—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Whether you're aiming for a new personal best, embarking on a fitness journey, or seeking to optimize your health and longevity, the principles of strength, endurance, and growth that underpin the world of running can be guiding lights. So, lace up your shoes, hit the track, and remember that the journey itself is a reward, and every step taken is a testament to your determination and strength.
In this episode, you'll discover:
- Jason Fitzgerald's lifelong love affair with running began at 14, driven by the allure of continuous improvement. Tracking progress, setting performance metrics, and the pursuit of personal growth resonates with runners at all levels, forming a strong foundation for success.
- The birth of Strength Running wasn't just about physical strength, but a holistic view of the attributes essential for successful running. Jason's coaching emphasizes the necessity of strength training, dispelling misconceptions about bulkiness and highlighting its pivotal role in injury prevention and long-term health.
- Jason's journey underscores the importance of balanced training, especially as runners age. Combining cardiovascular endurance with muscular strength isn't just a recipe for performance excellence, but also the key to enjoying a fulfilling and active life for the long haul.
Dr. Latt Mansor:Let's talk about injury prevention. What can people do to prevent injury?
There's so many things. You know, I mentioned some of the tools that many runners love, the foam roller, the different types of massage devices and compression boots and all those fancy things. I love these tools. I actually have most of these tools.
I recommend runners to get them if they have the means, because they can help enhance the process. Butthe word enhance here is doing a lot of work because your recovery and your injury prevention efforts, it really don't come from any individual training tool. I would say the number one way that runners can stay healthy.
The number one way we can focus on injury prevention is by training properly, by making sure we're not, as my old, my college coach once said, falling prey to the three twos too much, too soon, too fast. With running, it's very easy to do too much before we're ready for it. To run too far, to run too fast, or to run too frequently.
So I would, I would encourage all runners to find a good training plan, make sure that they are not increasing their mileage too quickly, make sure that they're running easy most of the time. And this is where a lot of runners get tripped up, you know, truly easy. Not, not just what you say is easy to your coach.
And you know, let's make sure that the workouts that we're doing are appropriate for us individually. Make sure they're appropriate for our fitness level. And make sure they're appropriate for whatever we're training for and where we are in the training cycle. So there's a lot of things to think about, but you actually don't have to think about any of those things if you just follow a really good training plan.
So, the training itself is the number one way that you stay healthy. You know, a lot of runners think that strength training is the best way to prevent injuries as a runner. And I would say it's the second best way. But you can imagine that no amount of strength training is going to save you from going out and doing a 30 mile run when your last long run was only 10 miles.
You are probably going to get hurt doing something that silly. So silly training is probably always going to get you injured no matter how many ice baths you're taking, no matter how much strength training you're doing. So first, let's get our training right, then we can focus on all the other things.
Number one with these other things is strength training. So let's follow that sandwich method that I discussed earlier. Do a dynamic warm up before you go running. I have a, I have a warm up routine called the standard warm up that folks can Google or find on the strength running site. Really easy eight to ten minute warm up routine that you do before a run. And then follow that run with some kinds of strength training. It is almost scary the risk reduction that that simple approach represents. So, if you're not doing all that kind of work, just plug and play it into your training tomorrow, today if you can, and you will start realizing those benefits immediately.
Those are, those I would say are like the three, or the two main reasons you stay healthy. Then there's of course, there's the lifestyle issues. You know, are you trying to train really hard when you're not getting any sleep? You know, that is certainly going to increase your injury risk. There's a really interesting study that showed collegiate athletes who got less than, I think, six and a half hours of sleep had a 20% higher injury risk than collegiate runners who got their eight hours.
So just by not sleeping enough, you are dramatically spiking your injury risk. If you are trying to do hard training, when you're dealing with a very stressful or emotionally charged moment in your life, You're also dealing with a lot of hormonal stress from those things happening in your life. And, and that's going to compete with your running for your body's ability to recover.
So, people can get injured or even just run down, potentially over trained, by trying to train through, you know, periods of time where they just don't have the bandwidth to do the, all the things in their training that they have to do. So, you know, number one, let's get our training right. Let's make sure we're doing our strength training.
And then of course, let's get our sleep and avoid stress, especially when we're training really hard. These are probably the biggest four levers that runners can pull to prevent their next big injury. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Dr. Latt Mansor:That was very well laid out. Basically train smart and let your body recover and listen to your body, right?
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