Stair climbing for runners

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Do you want to spice up your training? All you need is a staircase. With different staircase climbing variations you can train your leg strength specific to running and set a new stimulus. So, let’s go and say hello to your staircase challenge!

Benefits of stair climbing

  • You train your running-specific strength endurance.
  • Your impression (plyometrics) becomes more powerful. You will not only benefit from this when running uphill, but also on a flat surface, a space-filling step is of advantage. In addition, active footwork helps to stay injury-free.
  • It’s a very effective training and there is a new stimulus for the cardiovascular system.
  • The playful training brings variety to your winter workout and is also an ideal option concerning safety, as you can look for a lighted or even an inside staircase when it’s dark outside. Stair climbing as a training can of course also be included in summer workouts.

General tips for stair climbing:

  • Stair climbing should only be carried out when warmed up.
  • Caution in wet conditions: You might want to switch to an indoor option.
  • Stair climbing can be a good substitute for a short interval training unit.
  • Quality before quantity always applies to stair climbing, as a clean and dynamic execution is important to avoid injury.
  • During each execution, the body remains stable: Special attention applies to the torso, which should always be tightened during the training.
  • A cool down should be carried out afterwards. Nevertheless, you may feel the staircase training the next day with sore muscles, especially at the beginning.

Possible sequence of a staircase training unit

  • 10 to 15 minutes of warm up
  • Mobilize joints, 3 interval runs
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stair climbs in a row (more than one passage possible) – usually at full speed up and down. Choose your favorites of the exercise collection below (or try all of them!):
    • Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs (don’t forget to include a short break at the bottom of the stairs as this is intense, too)
    • Ankle jumps
    • Frequency runs sideways (both sides)
    • Squat jumps (if the downhill jumps are also included, again, take the break at the bottom of the stairs)
    • Sideway jumps
    • One-legged jumps (both legs)
  • 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down, then stretching

Collection of exercises: Stair climbing

The exercises will be shown by Judith Wyder, 5 times OL World Champion and one of the fastest runners of Switzerland.

Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs

In skipping, every step is done explosively, and the knee is pulled up. A good coordinative exercise is the staircase-downhill, but beware: start slowly!

Ankle jumps

The toes are actively pulled upwards, jumping off with your forefoot. The knees always point forward to ensure a good leg axis.

Frequency runs sideways

The movement is carried out at a 90° angle to the staircase. The leg frequency is high, and a coordinated arm work is key for this exercise.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps, also called frog jumps, can be varied depending on the level: Try to take 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps in one. The jumps can be dynamic or static, depending on the goal. A good leg axis is important for both. The downhill jumps should be approached carefully – Attention: We warned you about the potential of muscle soreness!

Sideway jumps

Power and coordination in one, no matter whether you exercise them statically or dynamically. This exercise is especially recommended for trail runners and cross-country skiers.

One-legged jumps

There’s more to these one-legged jumps than one might think, no matter if you take every step or jump over some of them. Also, the jumps should be carried out in an explosive way.

These videos have been kindly provided by indurance and Judith Wyder.

Author of this blog entry: Stefanie Meyer

Tips and tricks: Fascia training for runners

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Untrained fasciae contribute to various health problems that plague runners. Training them requires little effort, but it pays off.

Author: Senta Bitter, Dipl. Physio- and manual therapist, certified Pilates instructor, Medbase Zürich Löwenstrasse

Fasciae are eminently important for runners for two reasons: First, because they allow flexible, elastic movements. It is only thanks to fasciae, for example, that gazelles can jump for metres. This “catapult effect” also helps athletes. Thanks to the fasciae, the muscles function optimally.

The second reason why runners should take care of their fasciae is that impaired fasciae can contribute to a whole range of health problems. Whether Achilles tendonitis or “runner knee” – fasciae are always involved.

“Fascia chains”

Sometimes the cause of the pain is not where it hurts. Tightened fasciae on the left shoulder, for example, can cause pain up to the right leg. The fasciae form a network that runs through the entire body. Several fasciae are connected to each other like a chain – if it is stuck in one place, it affects a larger interconnected area (“chain”).

At least eight such “fascia chains” are known so far. The “large spiral chain”, for example, runs from the thick fascia on the sole of the foot over the Achilles tendon and calves up the back, over the skull and up to the eyebrows. Among other things, it is used for a more upright posture. Therefore, it makes sense for runners to train not only a few fasciae, but as many as possible. Strictly speaking, this is not training, but “making you suppler”. But: This training is essential. The best cardiovascular and muscle training is of little use if the fasciae do not participate!

Overloading, unusual strains or disturbed movements lead to the fasciae becoming stiffer. Colloquially, we speak of “sticking together”. At this point, so-called myofibroblasts start settling increasingly in the fascia. These are cells that occur, for example, in scars. They stiffen the fascial net, to the chagrin of the muscles and the human being, who becomes less mobile as a result.

Training fasciae: Bouncing, stretching and rolling out

Fasciae can be trained with three methods: Bouncing, stretching and rolling out. Good exercises are for example:

  • stand with your toes on a step, your heels overhanging, your knees straight. Then bounce out of a pre-stretch. Do the exercise three to four times a week.
  • If possible, stretch the fasciae daily, both single and entire fascia areas. Since stuck fasciae need time to loosen, they should remain in the stretched position for 45 to 60 seconds per position.
  • roll out the muscles three to four times a week with a hard ball or foam roll, from the one end of the muscle to the other.

An alternative to rolling out is fascia massage (Rolfing), a supplement to bouncing can be jumping on a trampoline.

Those who take care of their fasciae – and this is of course also recommended for non-runners – notice that they become more agile. The freer the fascia, the better the posture. But that doesn’t happen overnight. Several weeks of fascia training are necessary for success. Treat your body to it and take the time for it!

Tips for rolling out

If you are completely healthy, you can use this guide to start rolling out your fascia with the Foam Roll. However, if you have health problems, it is best to have the trainer at the gym or your physiotherapist show you how best to use the Foam Roll.

  • Roll hardness (density): The softer the foam roll, the lower the effect on the fascia. It is best to take the hardness that you tolerate. Beginners usually start better with a softer foam roll.
  • Spend about one minute per muscle. For both legs together, you calculate about five to seven minutes.
  • In the beginning it is often good not to lie on the roll with the whole body weight, but to roll out standing along a wall, for example with the lateral thigh.
  • Also roll out the sole of the foot – it is often forgotten.
  • When the foot rolls out, fluid is pressed out of the fascia. Drink enough to supply the body with fresh fluid again.
  • Before jogging, roll out quickly and briefly with the Foam Roll, it has a stimulating effect. After jogging, roll out slowly for a longer period of time.
  • Finding the right balance: If you have the feeling after rolling out that you have sore muscles or “bruises”, you expected too much of your fascia.
  • Avoid areas where the skin is irritated.

 

Starting the day with power – the runner’s breakfast

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In our series #RUNNINGFOOD we give you practical tips for runners’ meals; we’d like to start with a few breakfast inputs. Proteins, carbohydrates and good fatty acids: a good breakfast includes all three main nutrients. Depending on the goal, point of time and taste, you can choose your favourite version. 

Two categories, two priorities

Breakfast is the most important meal oft the day. Thus, you should not skip it. It has even been shown in studies that people who skip breakfast eat more during the day than people who had had scrambled eggs for breakfast. Breakfast haters could for example prepare a shake instead.

High-protein breakfast

A high-protein start of the day keeps you full in the long run and covers a good share of the daily protein requirements. Those versions are appropriate on rest days or after a run. Combine them with whole grain bread or cooked potatoes.

Breakfast shake

Ingredients:

150 g lowfat quark

100 ml milk/ soy milk/ natural joghurt

1 banana

100 g fresh or frozen berries, ex. raspberries, blueberries, strawberries

1 teaspoon of cocoa

3 tablespoons of oatmeal

1 tablespoon of flaxseed

2 teaspoons of chia seeds

Optionally: agave syrup to sweeten the shake and/or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preparation:

Put the chia seeds and flaxseed into a glass, add triple the amount hot water, let it rest for 10min. Then, put all ingredients into a mixer, mix – done!

 

Mediterranean scrambled eggs

Ingredients:

2 eggs

a little bit of milk

½ onion

½ zucchini

50 g feta cheese

a handful of fresh herbs, like rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano, basil

sea salt, pepper

a bit of butter

Preparation:

Whisk the eggs with some of the milk. Chop up the onion and the zucchini. Heat up some butter in a pan. Brown the onion and the zucchini and then pour the egg/milk blend over it. Add the feta cheese. Season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Let it thicken at a low temperature. Turn over with a spatula and let it brown a little on both sides. Serve with a bit of whole grain bread, if required.

 

Breakfast quark base mixture

(can be prepared for several portions and then stored in the fridge)

Ingredients:

500 g lowfat quark

500 g natural joghurt, 1.5%

200 g grainy cream cheese

½ TL teaspoon of fresh vanilla powder

agave syrup to sweeten, if required

Preparation:

Blend all ingredients, sweeten if required and store in a bowl or jar in the fridge.

For a delicious breakfast, jazz up this blend with fresh fruit and grains/seeds, ex.

* flexseed

* pumpkin seeds

* hempseed

* buckwheat

* chia seeds

* almonds

* oatmeal

Carbo breakfast

Before a competition or an exhausting day: With carbohydrates you can start the day fully loaded. Before a competition or an intense training session, you should reduce the proteins or skip them completely, as they can cause an upset stomach. Porridge or bread with butter and honey are ideal in those cases. Either is a good choice, everyone has to decide for themselves which one they prefer. In all other cases, however, a combination out of carbohydrates and proteins is recommended, as it keeps you full longer. Furthermore, proteins provide you with an important dosis of amino acids needed for recovery and muscle building.

Porridge

Ingredients for 1 portion:

200 ml milk (or half milk/ half water)

ca. 50 g oatmeal

one pinch of salt

1 piece of fruit

Optionally: cinnamon, honey

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a pot, add the oatmeal, make it cook. Add a pinch of salt. Let it simmer for a little while, jazz it up with a piece of fruit of your choice, and a little cinnemon or honey, if required.

 

Spelt semolina with glazed apples and natural joghurt

Ingredients for 4 portions:

500 ml Spelt drink or milk

125 g Spelt/whole grain semolina or wholemeal spelt flour

2 tablespoons of cocoa

30-50 g agave syrup

2 pinches of vanille powder

2 apples chopped up in thin slices

2 tablespoons of raisins

2 tablespoons of chipped almonds

2 tablespoons of honey

Optionally: 2 tablespoons of cinnamon

500 g joghurt or soy joghurt (unsweetened)

Preparation:

Make the spelt drink boil in a pot. Add the semolina and the cocoa, stir with a whisk. Add the vanilla powder and sweeten with the agave syrup, if required.

Heat up some water in a pan. Sauté the apple slices in the pan for a little while. As soon as the water has evaporated a bit, add the raisins, almonds and honey and brown the mixture. Put it on top of the prepared semolina, add the natural joghurt to finish off with.

 

Whole grain bread with grainy cream cheese

Ingredients:

2 slices of whole grain bread (spelt or rye)

200 g grainy cream cheese

6 basil leaves

fresh chives

2 tomatoes

4 slices of cucumber

salt and pepper

Preparation:

Spice up the grainy cream cheese with salt, pepper and finely chopped herbs. Spread it on the bread, add cucumber and tomato on top.

This blog entry was written by Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck, running.COACH Gold prescription coach, sports scientist and German champion (2010) in half marathon.