Being a good runner takes more than just running

When Bruce Craven started working as a sport physiotherapist 30 years ago, he often saw runners who just ran.

These days, those athletes are a rare commodity. Most people Craven sees now understand that things like strength work and drills are important parts of becoming better runners.

“I think the world of just running and all of your strength coming from just running is not there,” Craven said.

“You can’t become a good runner just running.”

Craven, a sport physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach and co-owner of Craven SPORT Services on Second Avenue, is a vocal advocate for drills and strength training and regularly helps runners of all levels incorporate them into their workout schedules.

He spoke with the Brainsport Times about why they are so important.

Running drills

Just as great musicians need to get great at scales, so too do great runners need to get great at running skills, Craven says.

Spending time marching, running with high knees and doing butt kicks — all while focusing on proper running technique — helps athletes run more efficiently with better form and ultimately avoid injury, Craven says.

He recommends runners spend five to 10 minutes doing drills as part of a warm up prior to setting out on a run.

Strength training

In order to move your body faster, you need to generate more force.

Craven says training with weights — such as doing deadlifts — or doing body-weight exercises — such as push ups and tricep dips — play an important role in making runners stronger, which can translate into speed and fewer injuries.

“If I’m only doing endurance-type sport, force production becomes a problem. It’s harder to generate force when you’re doing it over and over and over again and you’re burning the same fuel all the time,” Craven says. “The joy of doing some strength training is you actually use a different energy system that doesn’t interfere with what you’re going to do on your running days.”

In fact, when making programs for elite athletes Craven recommends they do their heavy weight training on the same day as their heavy run and then take a full recovery day the following day.

Because drills and strength are so important for injury reduction and have the potential for big paybacks when it comes to speed, Craven encourages all his runners to make the time to do them — even if it means less time running.

— Andrea Hill (Editor, Brainsport Times)