Runners: The Mistake You're Making That Could Cost You Future PRs Part I
Hey runners, do yourself a favor right now: Stop Chasing PR's. Yes, STOP. Now is not the time to reach the next level of your training.
Wait - what?!
Think about it. Like most people, what you really want is normal right now. In 2020 BC (Before Corona), you had your routine. Your structure, the way you went about your week. It was predictable.
One of the things I've learned over the last 19 years in the industry is how exercise can help you obtain your version of "normal." It will give you structure and certainty, which our brains like, especially in a bat-shit-crazy time (which is really the only way we can put this situation we're in). Running was a way to help you keep your week together. Something that gave you a sense of your former life. That’s what you really want right now, not a PR.
I don't run. It’s not that I'm fundamentally opposed to the idea; it’s more that I prefer running on base paths, after a frisbee or to the store to buy coffee because I just ran out. Which is probably the fastest version of the running I do, if I'm being honest.
But I digress… Running in and of itself is a great way to maintain normalcy. It’s just how you’re doing it that matters. I can speak to the fundamentals of movement, but when it comes down to the mental aspect, you’ve got to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth: someone who runs, and that isn't. Lucky for you I know of just such an individual.
Her name is Jennifer Hellickson, aka @KineticFix on Instagram, and she has more than 25 years of running experience as both a coach and competitor. When it comes to running, she's your source for expert advice. Mostly because she's got some great insights as to how runners should be approaching their training right now. There mere fact she's chiming in on my blog speaks to how highly I think of her fitness insights.
Recently, we were talking about the insanity of people still chasing the golden fleece with their workouts. Life is already like a daily HIIT session as it is, and people are still trying to add more stress on top that with a "BEASTMODE" approach. In fact, we both had so much to say on the topic that I’ve broken our conversation into a three-part series you're going to love.
But first, we're going walk things back so you can get to know Jenn.
WHAT IS KINETIC FIX?
A health & fitness site with to inform and inspire, along with igniting a passion for the process of getting fit. I joke that I used to chase PRs, but now I chase my kids.
It's not about letting go of your dreams, aspirations and ultimate goals; it's about gaining perspective to maintain a healthy balance while pursuing them.
WHEN DID YOU START RUNNING?
I started running back in high school when I was 14 and went out for the track team. With zero athletic background and a coach who “coached” by honking at us from his van during group runs, I took it upon myself to learn about the fundamentals of training.
I failed miserably as a sprinter, but found my place with the long-distance crew. After graduation, I got bit by the road racing bug and have been training pretty consistently ever since, from 5ks to ultras.
It wasn’t until I sustained a stress fracture after earning a half-marathon PR between my first and second kiddos, though, that I shifted my view of running, training and racing.
These days I’m less focused on the immediate gratification of racing and more concerned about what I can be doing to keep running for another 25 years; PR’s are just icing on the cake.
How Did You Get Into Coaching Runners?
When I was living in the Bay Area, one of my friends and track/cross country teammates, Terra Baker (a pro triathlete and one of their sponsored athletes), introduced me to Clif Bar.
I was making a move to Oregon and had the opportunity to launch their Team LUNA Chix community program in the Portland area. It was the perfect way to make like-minded friends and make an impact on the local community.
When Clif wound down the program in 2016, we had so much momentum going that I created Portland Women’s Run Club to continue our work. The number one concern people had was about qualifying for the team because they weren’t a certain pace – but my answer was always, “You are a runner, and you’re welcome with us.”
What do you see as the biggest mistake runners are making right now?
Right now: “Control” through running. Whether it’s a “more-is-better” mileage-hoarding impulse or over-exercising to stay in shape for a future race, they’re operating from a lack of control, uncertainty and fear. All recipes for disaster.
In general: Ego leading the way. Putting more emphasis on outcomes (race times, for example) than the process, “doing it for the ‘gram” or taking advice from influencers posing as experts. All recipes for injury.
What's the biggest thing runners omit from their strength training program?
Addressing asymmetries & imbalances! It really is the little things. Think about it this way - your legs turn over hundreds of thousands of times as you’re training & repeating your personal pattern of movement. Any kind of super repetitive motion will expose your weaknesses.
Workouts that feature diagonal loading help immensely ( the connection from your right shoulder to your left hip and vice versa); not only do they force your weaker side to catch up to your stronger one, but they also work an incredible range of muscles from primary ones to stabilizers, all of which we need to keep us running long and strong.
Cliffhanger Ending! Or Is It??? Thanks a ton for getting down this far. We've got two more pieces of great content that are going to help you get stronger so you can run longer. In the next post, I'm handing things off to Jenn on her Kinetic Fix blog so she can give you the specifics of what you can - and probably, more importantly, should - be doing now to give yourself a boost in the long run!