If you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or even 60s, can you train like a High School athlete? I had this existential moment when I ran across this excellent video series from the New York Road Runners.
I had this feeling because I, at 43, am no longer a part of the youth. But I’m watching this video, and I realized that the training looked fun. The kids were alright outside, and that it’s probably more important for adults to *train like an athlete.*
What are you doing, adult, with your body? Are you so past your prime that you no longer go outside to play? Do you think you can’t improve your physical fitness like the high schoolers do? If you think that way, think again. If you’ve given up on your physical fitness, then it’s time to give in.
Most adults past the age of 40 have given up. I know, I know: you’re an active adult, and you’re the exception. But, look around at the people taking their dogs to the dog park to play, while they just sit there and accept their sedentary fate. However, look at these high school athletes! They’re sprinting. They’re distance running. They’re doing high-step skips. Why aren’t you?
Another perspective that I’ve noticed: I run with trail runners a lot. We bound over obstacles. We hike up steep hills. We surf the downhills. But if I’m going to be critical of my friends, most of us are slow runners, and we can’t bother to incorporate sprints.
And maybe I’m talking to myself here. Do I want to be a well rounded human? Do I want to be able to run, jump, and skip into my 80s? Do I work in a physically demanding occupation that is designed to help enhance and optimize physical fitness?
So I’m repurposing this High School athlete’s master class in running form into my own benefit. If you’re over 30, and you want to stay in shape, then you can do this with me.
Video One: Introduction to High School running. …For 43 year olds.
This course is broken up into 5 segments.
Improving running technique will help you run with greater ease and efficiency. Training will help you avoid injury. You will become better aware of your body mechanics. And constant, regular training will improve your endurance, make you stronger, and make you faster.
Reach your fullest potential past the age of 30!
Running is a technical sport, and a learned skill. You can learn to improve. Drills can help you break down the components of running, and the benefit of doing this as a well-rounded athlete is that it will improve your strength, agility, and coordination for the other things you do in your life.
This video says that High School athletes are able to become aware of their running form, and are able to correct it to improve it. Are you, as a 40 year old able to do the same? I think so. It’s interesting that they point out that younger students may be still going through their growth phases, and some of the drills like high-skips will make them feel awkward and uncoordinated. Well, they just don’t know that it’s equally awkward as a 43 year old.
Video Two: Fundamental Athletic Skills
So this is the video where I was digging the drills that the athletes are doing. Meanwhile, I was shaking my damned head at the coaches in the video who are closer to my age, and who low more sluggish than me, even though their job is to hang out at the track all day and play. The kids are doing awesome drills! If I were a coach, I would be tempted to risk the ribbing from my students to participate in the drills myself.
This is the video that teaches you to adopt the athlete’s lifestyle.
There are 6 fundamental athletic skills for runners:
- Strength: The capacity to generate forceful muscle contractions.
- Power: The ability to generate forceful muscle contractions quickly.
- Coordination: The skill of sequencing and timing muscle contractions. (Cariocas look silly, but they develop coordination.)
- Flexibility: The ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion.
- Balance: Leads to joint and posture stability.
- Agility: Enables runners to change direction quickly.
Form and Strength Drill Circuits, where you repeat the same cycle of movements are helpful to build your athletic foundation. Set up a combination of explosive exercises, some endurance, some upper body strength, and some lower body strength. This drill session should be 30-40 minutes. It’s easy to tell a kid to do this because they are so obedient to their coach, but will you do this, 50 year old?
Video Three: Running Posture
We like to emphasize the importance of posture in our clinic. This video claims that good running posture will help you move more efficiently, prevent injuries, and promote a positive mental outlook.
There are three key elements of running posture.
- Run tall. Keep your head up and your chin parallel to the ground. Lean slightly forward, but not too far in a hunch. This will help lung capacity.
- Keep your torso stable with everything facing forward. Knees and feet pointed forward and not out or in. Don’t let your head bob or shake. Don’t let your body sway or rotate in your run.
- Stay relaxed throughout your body. Keep face and jaw relaxed. Avoid holding your shoulders high--keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Loosen the grip on your hands.
Video four: Leg Movement
This is the video that caught my attention to this series. That kid’s running form is irreproachable, and take a look at how easy it his for him to adapt his running to demonstrate errors. I’ve never seen such a concise resource for running mechanics along with such a clear demonstration of good and bad.
There are six fundamentals of leg movements:
- Run lightly on the feet; don’t pound or plod.
- Land on the midfoot, or the balls of the feet.
- Run with quick feet.
- Land with the foot and knee pointed in the direction the body is traveling.
- Lift the knees, bringing them up in front of the body.
- Choose a stride length that feels natural and comfortable; ideally, the feet should land beneath the body or as close to it as possible.
Video Five: Arm Movement
Arm swings stabilize your body. The opposite arm to the leg will push forward together. Left arm, right leg.
Don’t let your arms swing past your body’s midline. Keep your elbows close to your body so they don’t flare out to the side. And, arm swings should happen at the shoulder joints, not the elbows. Keep your elbows bent at a consistent angle. Arm drive should be in front of the body as well as behind the body. Shoulders should be down and back, not high and tight.
Arm movement fundamentals:
- Swing each arm forward and backward in sin with the opposite leg.
- Pump the arms forward and backward in line with the direction of movement; avoid swinging them across the body.
- Swing the arms from the shoulders, not the elbows.
- Swing the arms through a full range of motion.
- Keep the shoulders and hands relaxed.
Did you watch these videos? What did you think?
As a very casual runner, I saw some stuff in the arms and legs mechanics videos that I need to pay attention to. The second video that talks about building athletic skills was an eye opener, as it caused me to realize that I personally could do with this kind of training.
Ryan Todd Lloyd, DC