The Secret To Running Faster

Most people discuss the two most common ways to run faster by increasing stride frequency or increasing stride length. However, I feel the key to running faster is landing stiffly on the pad of your foot. The more time that you spend on the ground, the slower you will go. It is simple – fast running is not done on the ground but in the air. If you have not worked your entire body to incorporate speed and explosion, you will not perform very well or you will get injured.

When I am running faster, my foot lands stiffly on my foot pad (the area between the toes and the arch of your foot). This area is commonly referred to as the “ball of the foot” which has a fatty pad that protects the five metatarsal heads and provides a nice cushion when you land. When you run fast you are putting 100% of your body weight on this specific area. When I say landing “stiffly,” I mean that my heel does not hit the ground. I am trying to reach out in front of my body as far as I can and still land on the foot pad; thus , decreasing my time on the ground. Landing on your heel is like putting on the brakes due to your leg being straight and spending too much time on the ground. A variety of injuries (from your foot to your back) can occur if you continue to land on your heel. Once I land on the pad of my foot, I explode forward and up with almost a bounding feeling.

The best way to find out how you land is to take your shoes off and run. See if you land on the ball of your foot, your heel, or flat. A soft flatter landing (still hits the foot pad first but allows the heel to touch) is good when running slowly and with a shorter stride length as you do not want to run with a stiff landing unless you are elongating your stride length. If you continue to land stiffly with a short stride length, this will create a sheering effect as your femur pushes down in front of the tibia creating knee pain.

Please spend time strengthening all your muscles, ligaments, and tendons (especially in your legs and feet) before trying this stiff foot pad landing. Please visit www.BodyProtection for your copy of the exercises and movements to create the strength you need to become an explosive, fast runner.

A Simple Way To Run Faster

So many runners just go out and jog through their distance training for the week. They like the camaraderie of their fellow runners as they speak about their lives, races, and nagging injuries. They jog long and slow many times during the week and when they have more time on the weekend, they go a little longer. Then after so many miles of running, they wonder why they are not getting any faster in their races.

These runners have trained their slow twitch muscle fibers and their aerobic base all week, but they have not developed their fast twitch muscle fibers and their anaerobic base. If you are one of those runners who love to run, hate to go to your local track, and want to get faster, here is a simple way to get faster in your running workouts.

Instead of just jogging with your friends, take 20-30 minutes in the middle of your next run and increase your pace and effort. A fun and easy way to do this is to take turns choosing different objects to open up your stride to for a short burst. For example, one person might say “to the telephone pole” which is 100 yards away. After you all pick up your pace to the telephone pole, then slow back down to your normal jog for some time to recover your breathing. Then the next person might say “to the stop sign” which is 50 yards away. After you all pick up your pace to the stop sign, then again slow back down to your jogging pace to recover. By changing the short distances and the recovery times in between targets, you begin to work your body in a way that will help you get faster. You will begin to feel muscles higher up your legs that not have been incorporated before in your running style and you will feel your lungs expand even further with your deeper breathing.

You might find out that the chatter begins to wane as the intervals increase, but I hope you find the change in your run not only beneficial to your race times, but also a lot of fun as you begin to open up your stride with your friends.

Body Protection Training DVD Video Trailer

Learn how competitive athletes are training to prevent injury. This 1-minute video trailer will provide you with a quick glimpse of the content contained within the 2-Disc Body Protection Training DVD that was filmed at The Movenpick Resort and Spa at the Dead Sea in Jordan. The DVD is now available for purchase on www.bodyprotection.com.

Body Protection™ is a movement-based training program designed to prevent injury and optimize athletic performance in any sport at any age. The components of the program provide competitive athletes with strength/endurance, speed/explosion and flexibility, while developing the body’s connective tissue. This multi-muscle, multi-directional, and multi-functional series of exercises also stimulates an athlete’s proprioception which promotes better balance and stabilization.

The Body Protection Training program is available on DVD. This two (2) DVD set is packed with over 90 minutes of instruction and 60 minutes of example exercises. These exercises are the basis of the personal training that David O’Meara teaches his high-performance clients during their in-person sessions.

Competition – Nothing Like It

I attended our high school regional cross country championships and a pro tennis tournament yesterday. I wanted to observe two of my athletes compete. One at the cross country meet before I begin his speed preparations for track season and a tennis player before I prepare his 2013 schedule. I learned a great deal by seeing the race and the match in person. With all the statistics and other various numbers that computer programs spit out, for me there is no comparison to actually being at the event. I know it might sound like “old school” to some, but I need to use my senses to watch live action, hear the sounds, and feel the intensity of competition. It is what has kept me in love with live sports since I was a youth and developed my instincts as a coach.

It was indeed a day of contrasts. The runner ran a personal best falling over after crossing the finish line in pure exhaustion. The tennis player competed well for a set and then drifted away losing the last 12 of 13 games. I find it interesting why some athletes rise to the occasion and others collapse. Certainly some have not worked or prepared properly, some do not care as much, and some fear competitive situations. Why can’t we try our best in the competition, win or lose with grace and humility, and take responsibility for our actions? It seems so simple, so wonderful, so free. We have been cluttered with so many other thoughts that the joy of competing against others has been tarnished. I am not naive to the fact that there are many things associated to sports success: money, scholarships, and fame. But when I put my toe on the starting line of a race, the only thing that matters to me is the desire to give my best. I just wish the young athletes of today do not miss out on how much enjoyment and satisfaction can come from true competition. My athletes had contrasting realizations yesterday that only competition could bring out. The journey continues…

The Mind of an Athlete (Part 2)

The best athletes have inner confidence and the ability to see situations in a way that help them reach their highest level of performances. Confidence is not a fragile state that can be lost at any given moment, even though many people use the phrase, “I just lost my confidence.” People might lose their focus, temporarily feel poorly, or feel nervous, but confidence is built on a series of past experiences and takes time to develop and time to lose. Inner confidence is not lost on one weak performance or one missed play. For example, if a man was to ride a horse for the first time, he would not feel “confident” because past experiences were not established. However, after riding a horse for a few months, that same man would begin to feel more relaxed, more secure, and more confident. This is why it takes years to become a professional athlete. After years of practices and competitions, inner confidence is created.

How an athlete sees a situation is based on that athlete’s perceptions. Perceptions are how athletes see themselves, events, and others. Perceptions are the source of their every thought, feeling, and action. It is the basis of making a lasting change in the mind. An example from my second book, Play Better, Live Better, presents a deer in the woods and standing next to me is a hunter, a farmer, and a little girl. The hunter sees the deer as a trophy and would like to kill the deer and put its head on his wall. The farmer sees the deer as a nuisance and is fearful that the deer will come and eat all his new plants and vegetables. The little girl sees the deer as a cute animal and wants to give it a hug. This is the power of perceptions – it is the same deer, but with three very different perceptions that will shape each of their thoughts, feelings and actions. The cool thing is that perceptions are a choice and an opportunity for athletes to choose perceptions that will help them perform at their highest levels.

The Mind of an Athlete (Part 1)

If you can do the physical, the most difficult part of the game to master is the mental. This is what many athletes miss in their preparation for competitions. I was asked by a reporter the other day about the greatest challenge on The 2012 Isles Mile Challenge and I said “constantly taming my mind on tour.” I feel our minds love to jump around hurting our concentration and focus. Being present focused seems so simple, but yet is so elusive. Our minds jump from the past to the future keeping us mentally weak and hurting our athletic performances.

So how do we begin to tame the mind?

1) Stay in the here and now. This race, this point, or this play is all that matters. Every other thought will diminish your performance. Easy to say, extremely difficult to do, but it is something you can learn.

2) The mind-body connection is bridged by your breathing. People laugh at me when they hear me breathe during a mile race (heavily through the mouth and nose), but they also laugh when they hear me perform my breathing exercises for relaxation, focus, and visualization (almost Darth Vader like). Deep breaths through the nose activates the lower part of your lungs and will increase blood flow and increase energy. Longer exhalations than inhalations can also help you relax and calm your entire body.

3) Create habits that keep you in the present. For example, get used to giving your absolute best mental effort in every competition (something you can control) and forget about the outcome (something you cannot control) – it is an amazing zone of performance that you will want to repeat again and again. You will be free to compete at your highest mental level.

Recovery Workouts

Since my return to Florida, I am trying to listen to my wife and rest a bit more. I have to admit that I have had difficulty “decompressing” after every one of my tours and this year is no different. A little down time, an occasional nap, and a swim in the salt water are very much in order for September. Also on my return, I try to help out a few of my running buddies in their workouts.

We try to take advantage of our natural surroundings in Florida and workout/run on the beautiful flat beaches in Sarasota. I was assisting one of my running buddies in a six mile run on Saturday and we ran by four manatees in the shallow waters of Siesta Key. Manatees are as big as cows and are very friendly. It was one of the many blessings in our early morning workout.

Even though I am not training for competition this fall, I hope to enjoy the simple pleasure of running and to inspire the other runners preparing for competition. Maybe this fall I will do a little better getting accustomed to life not on tour…

How To Achieve Peak Performance

We wanted to share what we learned in this 2012 Isles Mile Challenge experiment  that could help you perform at your peak. Remember this is a “buffet” of ideas, please pick or choose what you want that could help you reach your highest level of performance.

1) TRAINING – Our focus in the spring on running up and down the Ringling Bridge to prepare my body for the up and down conditions of the islands worked out great. My training buddy, Wayne, and I set up sprint work, tempo work, and interval work on uneven terrains. We live in Sarasota and train most of the time on surfaces that are very flat, we call the conditions “Florida Flat” (as I have raced in California on so-called flat courses, but they are very up and down compared to Florida).

2) RECOVERY – After 30,000 miles of travel through various time zones, my body held up surprising well. With races every week, one pulled hamstring and the tour was over. No Advil or ice was used  to recover – just massage therapy and my Body Protection program. During an interview the other day, the reporter did not believe me at first when I said that I used no medicine at all on the trip, but after he heard of my training – he understood. Not only on this tour did I not get injured, but I also did not get sick. My immune system stayed strong throughout the travel. I took my Vega One shake every morning, followed a strict vegan diet, and had no alcohol.

3) RACING – Prayer, visualization, and a present focus mentality prepared me for the various race conditions. Each race was different, but my mind was the same. There were times I spent hours on the road race course going through the turns and 1/4 mile splits over and over. I wanted to feel like I had raced on this new course before. Getting familiar with the conditions really assisted me in my racing confidence. Also,my focus on my racing form and technique really helped me to stay fast and strong. Charlie Olbrias (our official timekeeper) said that I looked as fast as I did 3 years ago when he followed me to 27 races in 2009. My mile race times this year backed up his observations and assertions.

Now that the summer is over, it is time to set up your fall training, recovery, and race schedule. Please feel free to ask me any questions on how to optimize your efforts as you try to peak in the last quarter of 2012.

www.BodyProtection.com is now LIVE!

It has been a whirlwind of travel since my last race on the Big Island of Hawaii. We flew to Phoenix to view the final cut of our new Body Protection DVD, traveled to Atlanta for an interview, then to Sarasota to see a couple of clients. After traveling about 30,000 miles on The Isles Mile Challenge, I am writing you now from Istanbul, Turkey as we came here for a celebratory trip and to see a city that we have not visited yet. It has been great to unwind a bit and stroll this old city. We will move onto to NYC for a couple of days of the US Open tennis and then be back in Sarasota for the start of September.

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Last Friday, www.BodyProtection.com went LIVE and you now have the opportunity to pre-order the DVD and not pay any shipping/handling costs (if you purchase the DVD before September 15th). Please check out our new site and let us know what you think of the cool layout. And don’t forget to LIKE us on www.Facebook.com/bodyprotection.com.

Running Hawaii

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After days in Oahu and Maui, we finally reached The Big Island of Hawaii. This island is the home of many different climates and changing landscapes and is our favorite Hawaiian island. We stayed near the race course on the hot, arid northwest side of the island in Waikoloa. We drove just an hour more north to lookout over the Pololu Valley and the weather changed dramatically with rainy conditions at the higher elevation.

Our race course is part of the Ironman bicycle course. Surrounded by volcanic rocks on each side of the road, I raced on Route 19 just outside the Kailua-Kona airport. I had a lot of difficulty in this race breathing the dry air. I know I breathe like a locomotive train when racing the mile anyway, but this was different. You can hear me wheezing on the video throughout the race. I gutted out a 4:44 mile and successfully completed the 2012 Isles Mile Challenge finishing 7 island one-mile races, in 7 different time zones, in 7 weeks – all under 5 minutes. Thanks to our Big Island driver, “T,” keeping me protected throughout the race.

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This was an amazing and intense tour. Next weekend back on the mainland, I will summarize the items we experimented with in 2012, the things we learned on our travels, and where we go from here. I turn the big 50 next April. Many people have been writing in letting me know what they think I should do for a 50th feat. Please feel free to let me know your ideas and thank you all for your continued support and prayers, it is much appreciated.