Plyometrics: Improve strength and speed without increasing mileage

Fortunately, running more miles is no longer the only way to get faster.

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Image Source: holabirdssports.com

Busy runners who want to get the most out of their training time should consider incorporating plyometrics exercises into their training programs. Originally developed as a training method for Olympic athletes, plyometrics is designed to improve speed and power. Plyometrics training focuses on moving rapidly from a muscle extension (eccentric phase) to muscle contraction (concentric phase) in a process called the stretch-shortening cycle. In other words, plyometrics enables muscles to exert maximal force in a short period of time.

For runners, the benefits of performing plyometrics exercises are numerous. Studies have shown that plyometrics not only improves speed, explosive strength, agility, and endurance, it also boosts running economy, or how efficiently the body uses oxygen.

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Image Source: sportsscience.co

The following are some examples of simple plyometrics exercises to do at home:

Single leg hops: Hop up and down on one leg, landing gently on the ball of the foot
Jump squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower hips into the squat position, then engage the core and jump up. Land gently on the balls of the feet and roll back onto the heels while returning to the squat position.
Box jumps: Stand in front of a plyo box or an aerobic bench with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down slightly, enable the core, drive out the hips, and jump onto the box, using the arms for balance and added momentum. Jump backwards off the box to return to the original quarter-squat position.

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Those new to plyometrics should begin with a twice-a-week program consisting of simple, low-intensity plyometrics exercises like the ones above. Runners should pay attention to proper form and take proper safety precautions when performing plyometrics. While plyometrics is not inherently dangerous, as with any exercise, there is always a risk of injury when routines are not done correctly. If in doubt, or for a more comprehensive plyometrics training plan, runners should seek the advice of a running coach or trainer.

Steven Rindner is a dedicated marathoner and a business and corporate development executive. Subscribe to this blog for more articles on improving running performance.

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REPOST: Five tips for running in the winter

Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from running. Tom Craggs shares tips to keep your exercise routine up and running this winter. More details below:

Keep running and you’ll get warm, plus your house will feel much warmer when you get home than it did when you set off.
Keep running and you’ll get warm, plus your house will feel much warmer when you get home than it did when you set off. | Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

The winter is a vicious circle for runners. It is time of year when you lay down your crucial base training for those spring races, where you have time to build your strength and endurance, where you know you need to train hard to stave off the worst of the inevitable Christmas excesses – yet it is also the time of year where excuses not to train seem to present themselves every time your open your kit drawer.
Cold weather, icy roads, dark before you finish work – with a bit of planning and thought you can ensure you keep consistent and destroy the excuses.

1. Layer up. Layers are the way to go in winter. Several thin layers of running specific, wicking fabrics will allow you strip down as you warm up. Focus on high-viz clothes too to keep you safe and seen.

2. Warm up slowly. In cold weather it is going to take you longer to warm up properly. Capillaries stay constricted for longer and muscles feel more stiff, so you might find breathing more difficult in the first ten to 15 minutes of a session. Allow longer than you normally would for easy running and drills before you start to attack faster paces and intervals. You might even consider warming up indoors with some active stretching, drills or skipping.

3. Keep good company. The cold winter months will challenge your resolve – surround yourself with positive people and train with others where you can (clubs, Run England groups) and schedule in some parkrun and 10kms to keep you motivated and on track

4. Sessions to suit conditions. If it is freezing outside it’s unrealistic to expect your body, or mind for that matter, to hit short, hard interval work early in a session. Consider sessions that build intensity and speed as they progress. A progression run of 15 minutes easy, 15 minutes steady and 15 minutes at a level of controlled discomfort is recommended.

5. Wrap up quickly. Your immune system is low after hard interval sessions or long runs. Make sure you bring spare clothes with you to the gym, club or your own sessions, so you can quickly remove damp clothes immediately after your session and cool down in dry, warm garments. This will help to stop you picking up bugs and infections. Get indoors too for your post run stretching session.

Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

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REPOST: 4 Smart Strategies To Build Your Business Brand

Spreading the word about a new business can be a difficult endeavor for most small business owners. This SmallBizTrends.com article highlights four tactics entrepreneurs can employ when competing against well-known and established brands.

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Image Source: smallbiztrends.com

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startups is getting the word out about their products and business to acquire new customers and build your business brand. Having a website is not going to magically generate sales.

Couple that with the fact that businesses online face even tougher challenges and significant disadvantages with the advent of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing and social media marketing. Competitors have established themselves and may have larger marketing budgets than your business does. Time and finances can get stretched beyond budgets very quickly trying to catch up.

So how does a new business compete?

There are a number of offline and online marketing strategies that can help boost your business brand and connect with potential customers. Here’s a closer look at four of my favorite tactics and a couple tips to maximize your efforts from them.

Trade Shows

So many businesses focus solely on digital marketing tactics. This is an error. Your business needs to diversify. Participating in a trade show of your targeted niche can give your business fresh prospect interest in what your business offers and accelerate the development of key relationships.

When exhibiting at a trade show, there are a couple key pieces to success. Having an eye-catching trade show booth to draw people in, high quality branded sales collateral to give to visitors to your booth, along with hosting a contest helps attract more people.

Video

Video is huge and can give your brand tremendous exposure. Gary Vaynerchuk of the famed WineLibraryTV created daily videos about wine for several years. Over the course of those years, Gary’s videos helped contribute to build his personal brand. They also helped his family’s business jump from a couple million a year in revenue to over $50 million a year.

Being able to create videos about your niche and your business as a way to connect with your prospective customer base is a powerful way to develop brand advocates as they become your “fans” while driving customers to your business.

Remarketing

Beyond basic pay-per-click advertising, one of the more underutilized marketing opportunities for many businesses is remarketing ads. Also known as ad retargeting, remarketing allows your business to show your ads after they’ve visited your website, to stay in the customer’s mind.

Remarketing is a powerful Internet marketing tactic because you are getting brand exposure and becoming more recognized by your target audience.

Engage In Q&A Sites

Beyond the standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a rapidly growing channel to target are Q&A sites like Quora and even LinkedIn’s groups. Being able to participate on these sites gives exposure to your business because you’re giving value in responding to questions. Providing answers and referencing resources can establish you and your business as an expert in your niche. Added bonus – you can connect with the people who are asking the questions.

Businesses have a near infinite number of tactics and opportunities to drive traffic to their websites and build a consistent revenue stream. Once you’re done with the basics of SEO and paid advertising, focus your efforts on video, content development, relationship building via social media networks and exhibiting at trade shows. Define your goals and target the channels that will help your business reach those goals.

Think outside of the traditional marketing box to grow your business and build your brand.

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