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NBR Beginner & Drills Clinic

Thanks to everyone that came out to North Brooklyn Runners' Beginner & Drills Clinic on July 15th, and thanks to Shawn and Karina for giving us all some great training advice! If you missed it, here's Karina's notes from the clinic!

Drills for Distance Runners: Training Neuromuscular Pathways

Most of us are training for longer distance road running, whether we are trying to set a new half marathon PR or running for the fun of it. Adding up those miles, we are constantly developing our aerobic system – how well our body can use oxygen. 

But there is another component to running that doesn’t usually get a lot of attention – the neuromuscular system. A few signs that you need to work on your neuromuscular fitness: you feel sluggish in speed workouts, you feel weak running uphill, or your breathing is under control during tempo runs, but your legs feel heavy. Sound familiar?

The neuromuscular system refers to the channels of communication between the brain and muscles. A primary goal of neuromuscular training is to develop new (and better!) connection to the muscles involved in running by practicing the components of efficient running form. This helps us as runners in all sorts of ways.

  • Practice makes permanent. It has been said that practice makes perfect, but that isn’t quite true. Actually, practice makes permanent. In that case, we should really say: perfect practice makes perfect. When we do drills, we exaggerate motions of an efficient running form in order to develop those neural pathways. It will help send the necessary signals to the muscles that need to fire to maintain that good form. Practicing good form through drills will build the neuromuscular foundation for good form in the rest of our training.  
  • Resisting Fatigue. Training our neuromuscular system helps us run more efficiently and keep that good form even as we tire during a race or a long run. 
  • Get fast.  You need to be able to move fast to run fast. Drills train our feet to move quickly, without all the demands of an interval workout on the track. Sprinting itself is a neuromuscular workout (no surprise why these drills come from sprinters!), but we can practice quickness through drills while still focusing our training to the specific demands on longer distance racing. 
  • Build strength and coordination. Drills help develop muscles in your feet and lower legs, improving agility and power. Greater strength and mobility may help us resist injury from overuse and poor form. 

Dynamic Warm up and Running Drill Progression:

The best time to do most running drills is when you are warming up for a run, particularly before any kind of high intensity effort. You can also do drills as a cool down from an easy effort. Something important to remember: practice makes permanent. If you are too tired to do these drills with proper form, you will actually be defeating the purpose of the workout! Once you notice that you’re not able to maintain proper form, it is time to stop. 

1. Dynamic Stretching Warm Up

+ Knees to Chest

+ Walking quad stretch

+ Cross leg hamstring stretch

+ Walking stretch lunge

+ Arms circle back, knees up to chest

2. Form Drills

+ A Skips

+ High knees

+ Butt kicks

+ Quick feet

+ Strides 

Articles for further reading:

Taeya's NYC Marathon Race Report

by Taeya Konishi Schogel

Since my mind wasn't all set for this marathon to beat my previous time, I was so relaxed, that on race day I was waiting for the train to get to the ferry terminal and realized that I forgot my throwaway clothes.  Luckily there was a deli right there so I bought trash bags. That was good news.  Then I got to the train and realized that I wasn't wearing my Garmin. Oops, I forgot it!  Since I was running with Miguel, I was ok without a watch. After that everything was fine.

I was worried that I couldn't carry 3 gels and 2 salt packets that Miguel gave me. I put some under my gloves, and some in my shorts pocket. I was holding one of the salt packet for easy access, but because I was wearing gloves and thanks to the wind, I lost one of my salt packets before reaching mile 2 :(  Then, I don't know at which mile I took one of the gels, but at that point I was carrying my last salt packet in my hands while taking the gel and water.  Somehow I lost this unopened packet AGAIN!  Then on Lafayette avenue my shoe lace came untied, at this point I was thinking "Great!  What else can go wrong in this race!?" I had to step aside and tie my shoe. Then, I kept going. Since I didn't have a watch and was going by feel, Miguel kept yelling at me that I was going too fast. Thanks to him, I kept the pace we were supposed to run at. The cheers from spectators were awesome! Especially the voluncheers at mile 12! Then I lost him on the Queensboro bridge.

At this point I was worried I was going too fast or too slow. I didn't know my pace that well. Then at mile 23 all of a sudden, I had a super sharp pain in my stomach. I really had to go to the bathroom, but just sucked it up and kept going thinking it's going to pass. It didn't pass, but I just had to reach the finish so I could use a bathroom. I reached the finish and didn't even look at the clock. My mind was focus on finding a bathroom. Sure enough there weren't any.  One of the volunteers told me they were outside of the exit zones ... great! I walked to pick up my stuff and felt like that walk was endless! Finally, I got to my stuff. I stretched for a bit and was trying to look up my time on the phone. It only showed me a prediction time of 3:15 so I was happy as I was shooting for somewhere between 3:10-3:20. As I received texts from friends, I had to text Angela and Linda to ask what my finish time was as I had no idea. They told me the time. It was nice to know that it went better than expected. But seriously what a hot mess I was!

Thanks again for cheering!  It's always so nice to see familiar faces thru out the course!