This week's theme: If you want to run like the wind, you've got to train like an animal.
Last week, Tier 4 trainers Chris Heuisler and Jason Skinner created a workout that focused on developing stronger, more flexible hips. For the third installment of moves, your marathon gurus will train you like an animal. "Mike Fitch created Animal Flow and while it's great for anyone to do, it's really good for runners," says Heuisler. "It forces your body into all planes of motion, which most of us don't do enough."
The moves target body parts essential to proper running form as well as injury prevention. Take the Ape Reach, for example: "The key for this move is toe mobility. Believe it or not, a lot of running injuries can traced to a lack of mobility in your big toe," says Heiusler. "So when this little piggy stops going to market, you can expect some serious problems." Heuisler and Skinner chose the Crab Reach to help undo the effects of hours seated at a desk. "The Crab Reach is great for your posture and great for those tight hips. I'd suggest trying this move up to three to five times a day."
Complete this 4-move workout at least once this week, on your designated strength-training day. Practice makes perfect, though, so you may want to fine-tune moves like the Ape Reach by attempting them a few times this week. Check back next Monday for your fourth sequence of exercises.
(1) Ape Reach (mobility)
Start in a deep squat position with a neutral spine and chest out. (From Heuisler: If your feet externally rotate, that's okay.) Once in the deep squat position, press up through your big toes. Stay tall while maintaining balance through your toes as you spread arms wide to shoulder height, reaching through your fingertips, to hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds (as shown). Do 3 to 5 reps.
(2) Static Beast (activation)
Place hands on floor directly below your shoulders, knees directly below hips. Once there, slowly lift knees one inch off the ground. Pull your shoulders back, tuck your rib cage in and hold the position for 30 to 40 seconds (as shown). Do 2 to 3 reps.
(3) Crab Reach (movement prep)
Sit on ground, feet flat and shoulder-width apart, arms behind you and palms flat, fingers pointed away from your toes. (From Heuisler: If this causes any pain in your shoulder, reposition your hands to have fingers pointed towards side, or towards feet). From there, drive hips towards ceiling by pushing hands and feet into ground, as if you were making a table top. Reach right arm overhead, turning your eyes toward your left arm (as shown). Hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat with the opposite arm. Do 3 to 5 reps per side.
(4) Forward Beast (movement)
Start in static beast position; lift your right hand and left foot simultaneously as you move yourself forward. Make sure your hands stay below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Move forward slowly and in small increments, lifting opposite limbs together as you go, for 30 seconds. The key here is to move with a natural flow and to maintain a tight core as you do so. Do 2 to 3 sets.