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BAAC Club Coaching Notes

This is a collection of Coaching Notes from editions of the weekly digest. Some pictures and text may be subject to copyright - contact the editor to reports any issues. Most of these items have been published by our club coach Joe Nolan.

Date Published: Author: Subject (click on title to jump)
2017 June Joe Nolan Glute and Piriformis Stretch
2017 May Joe Nolan Quad Stretch
2017 May Joe Nolan Good Running Form
2017 May Joe Nolan Stretching - Hamstrings
2017 Feb Joe Nolan Taking Stiches in your Stride
2016 August The Guardian Tips to Prevent Running Injuries (alternative view)
2016 July Joe Nolan Tips to Prevent Running Injuries
2016 March Joe Nolan Running Better, From Head To Toe
2016 October Joe Nolan Socket to Pocket

Glute Stretch DemoGlute and Piriformis Stretch

Cross your right ankle just above your left knee and lower down into a squatting position. Hold onto a friend or a tree for balance if necessary. If comfortable, gently push down on your right knee and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite leg.

Joe Nolan

Quad Stretch DemoQuad Stretch

While standing on your left leg, bring your right heel back, and grab your right foot or ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your foot toward your tailbone. Keep your knees aligned, and don’t arch your back, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on your other leg. To keep balance you may use the free arm to steady yourself against a chair, wall or another person !

Joe Nolan

Stretching - Hamstrings

In general stretching is recommended after a running session, although there are lines of thought that some stretching may also be wise before speed-work.  Runners should warm up and warm down after sessions with some dynamic exercises prior to the session main element.

Simple stretches of at least the hamstrings, glutes, calves and achilles are recommended as a minimum so it would be wise to review these, starting this week with hamstrings.  There are a number of different ways to stretch these muscles – try out some of these and find which suit you best.

Hamstring Stretching Examples
Joe Nolan

Running Form ImageGood Running Form

Source: Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner (and with reference to other sources as listed in the picture).

Coaching Tips - Taking Stiches in your Stride

Few things are worse than getting a side stitch during a run.

When running, there is increased abdominal pressure pushing up on the diaphragm. At the same time, rapid breathing causes the lungs to expand and this presses down on the diaphragm, a muscle that if “pinched” from above and below, gets less blood flow and spasms, resulting in painful side stitches.

Here are three ways to prevent the problem occurring:

  •  Eat mindfully pre-run - foods that are higher in fat and fibre take longer to digest so try not to eat them within one to two hours before a run.
  •  Invest in a solid warm-up – begin two to three minutes of brisk walking, gradually work into an easy running effort, and then into your planned running workout pace.
  •  Regulate your breathing by matching to strides—inhaling for two to four strides and exhaling for the same. The faster the pace, the shorter the sequence (fast pace = one or two strides per breath, slower = three or four strides per breath).

One strategy for stopping a stitch in its tracks:

  •  Slow down and exhale as the foot on the opposite side of the stitch strikes the ground. This doesn’t mean every time that foot hits the ground, but as you exhale, do so in sync with that opposite side. When you exhale, you use the muscles of your diaphragm. When this happens in unison with your foot striking the ground, the impact forces travel up the body and through your core and exacerbate the muscles in spasm creating that stitch, and hopefully then you’ll be running without swearing once again !

What other remedies do you have ? Let us know ! - one response being "I was told that when you were hit with a stitch then what was important was to change your pace - and speeding up could be as successful as slowing down."

Joe Nolan

Tips to Prevent Running Injuries (alternative view)

As usual there are alternative views out there and Dave Barnard pointed out this recent article from the Guardian:

The author suggests that three running injury myths should be debunked:

1. "You'll wreck your knees" - runners would appear to have better knees than non-runners - there is “no evidence that running increases the risk of osteoarthritis, including participation in marathons.”

2. "Stretching is Vital" - his conclusion is "no correlation between stretching and injury prevention".

3. "Heel-striking bad, midfoot good, barefoot is best" - his conclusion is that it probably doesn't make much difference for most of us.

Ten Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

1. Improve and maintain your flexibility

2. Include strength training in your running program /p>

3. Stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet

4. Warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races

5. Gradually increase your mileage and periodize your training schedule

6. Cross-train and include rest days in your training schedule

7. Talk with a running expert or coach to analyze your training program

8. Wear the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and running style

9. Have a formal gait analysis performed and use orthotics if recommended

10. Have your running form evaluated by a running expert

And in detail...

1. Improve and maintain your flexibility

  • Daily stretching is essential to improve and maintain flexibility, which in turn will help improve performance and prevent injuries.
  • Stretching should be done after you warm up your muscles – usually about 10 minutes of warm up should be enough.
  • Stretching should never be done in a hurry and should include all joints and extremities. Each stretch should be held in place for 30 seconds without bouncing.
  • It is helpful to include sports specific dynamic exercises like high knee drills, skipping, bounding, arm circles, and cross body arm swings.

2. Include strength training in your running program

  • Strength training improves a runner’s body strength and overall athleticism. This in turn reduces muscular fatigue that leads to poor performance and injuries. Runners will benefit from a program of 2-3 strength training sessions per week.
  • Strength training exercises should focus on all muscle groups including the trunk and upper and lower body.
  • Weight lifting, plyometrics and hill running are all effective methods of increasing strength.
  • Focus on improving strength in the offseason and pre-season and maintaining while in season.

3. Stay hydrated* and eat a well balanced diet

  • Avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration by pre-hydrating two hours prior to practice or competition with 16-20 ounces of fluids and another 8-10 ounces after warm-up.
  • Take in 6-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes of exercise.
  • Within two hours after exercise, re-hydrate with a pint (20-24 ounces) of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise.
  • The best fluids to take before, during, and after exercise are a cooled 4-8% carbohydrate solution.

4. Warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races

  • Before practices and competitions it is important to warm up. The faster the workout or race, the longer the warm up needed. A warm up of 5-10 minutes helps to flush out lactic acid build-up in muscles and prevents delayed muscle soreness.

5. Gradually increase your mileage and periodize your training schedule

  • Good aerobic activity is the foundation of your running performance. The principle of progression and periodization means gradually preparing the body to handle workout stress. You slowly build up the amount of training you do along with bumping up the intensity.
  • Periodization is the structure in a training program to progressively increase the training stress from cycle to cycle.
  • The progression should not be a steady increase in volume and intensity, but instead should be a staircase progression with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during a training period, season, or year.
  • Increases in training volume, duration and intensity should be a gradual increase of 5-10% per week.

6. Cross-train and include rest days in your training schedule

  • Cross-training helps to maintain your aerobic fitness while avoiding excessive impact forces from too much running.
  • Including rest days in your training schedule allows your body to recover and adapt to a running workout.

7. Talk with a running expert or coach to analyze your training program

  • Overtraining, running injuries and poor performances are often the result of an ineffective training program.
  • A good running coach can help you develop an appropriate training schedule to meet your running goals and prevent injury.

8. Wear the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and running style

  • Not all running shoes are made alike. The type of shoe you need varies depending upon your foot type and style of running. A sports store that specializes in athletic footwear can you help you figure out what style might be best for you.
  • Foot type is based upon the structure of your foot and the degree of pronation. Pronation is the normal inward rolling of your foot in running as your foot strikes the ground and transitions into pushing off. Abnormal pronation can lead to injuries.

9. Have a formal gait analysis performed and use orthotics if recommended

  • Poor foot biomechanics such as heel strike, excessive pronation, or a very rigid or very flexible foot arch can lead to inefficiency and injuries.
  • Most runners can control these problems by carefully selecting the right shoe type or by seeing an expert that can analyze your running gait and make orthotic inserts specific to your foot structure.

10. Have your running form evaluated by a running expert

  • Better running economy and body awareness are achieved through developing an efficient and smooth running form. A smooth running form requires less energy and delays muscle fatigue.
  • AA person trained in running biomechanics can help detect flaws in your running form and show you how to correct them.

Running Better, From Head To Toe

Head Tilt

How you hold your head is key to overall posture, which determines how efficiently you run. Let your gaze guide you. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, and scan the horizon. This will straighten your neck and back, and bring them into alignment. Don't allow your chin to jut out.


Shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body relaxed while you run, which is critical to maintaining efficient running posture. For optimum performance, your shoulders should be low and loose, not high and tight. As you tire on a run, don't let them creep up toward your ears. If they do, shake them out to release the tension. Your shoulders also need to remain level and shouldn't dip from side to side with each stride.


Even though running is primarily a lower-body activity, your arms aren't just along for the ride. Your hands control the tension in your upper body, while your arm swing works in conjunction with your leg stride to drive you forward. Keep your hands in an unclenched fist, with your fingers lightly touching your palms. Imagine yourself trying to carry a potato chip in each hand without crushing it. Your arms should swing mostly forward and back, not across your body, between waist and lower-chest level. Your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle. When you feel your fists clenching or your forearms tensing, drop your arms to your sides and shake them out for a few seconds to release the tension.


The position of your torso while running is affected by the position of your head and shoulders. With your head up and looking ahead and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten to allow you to run in an efficient, upright position that promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Many track coaches describe this ideal torso position as "running tall" and it means you need to stretch yourself up to your full height with your back comfortably straight. If you start to slouch during a run take a deep breath and feel yourself naturally straighten. As you exhale simply maintain that upright position.


Your hips are your centre of gravity, so they're key to good running posture. The proper position of your torso while running helps to ensure your hips will also be in the ideal position. With your torso and back comfortably upright and straight, your hips naturally fall into proper alignment--pointing you straight ahead. If you allow your torso to hunch over or lean too far forward during a run, your pelvis will tilt forward as well, which can put pressure on your lower back and throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment. When trying to gauge the position of your hips, think of your pelvis as a bowl filled with marbles, then try not to spill the marbles by tilting the bowl.


While sprinters need to lift their knees high to achieve maximum leg power, distance runners don't need such an exaggerated knee lift--it's simply too hard to sustain for any length of time. Instead, efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. Together, these will facilitate fluid forward movement instead of diverting (and wasting) energy. When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.


To run well, you need to push off the ground with maximum force. With each step, your foot should hit the ground lightly, landing between your heel and mid-foot, then quickly roll forward. Keep your ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward to create more force for push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward on each step. Your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Good running is springy and quiet.

Good Luck & don't forget to smile...

Joe Nolan


Upper body mechanics can make or break an efficient run. For starters, imagine a line being drawn straight down the centre of your body dividing your body from right to left. This is called your midline. Swinging your arms, or as little as your hands over that midline, usually causes your upper body to follow in a twisting motion back and forth over the midline. This is energy that could be used to run quicker. Holding your arms a bit wider than your hips can help eliminate the hands and upper body torque over the midline. Another energy saving tip with your arm movement, is the range of motion in which your arms swing. Think, pocket to socket. Holding your arms at 90 degrees, bringing your thumb from eye socket to pocket in a continuous repetition. That is about the range of motion your arms should swing in movement to help decrease any extra energy expenditure. Too much arm swing creates too much lateral motion, taking you off your course. Efficient arm swing and upper body rotation will help you travel in a straight line and get from A to B faster.

Joe Nolan




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