"You find out a lot about yourself through athletics." - Steve Ovett

Welcome to day 16. The final sprint home and your goal is well within sight and reach. This week will pick up in intensity but it is well within your ability. The session today is an activation session with Ashley, based on the strength and flexibility in your squat to compliment your running game.

Keep going, you're almost there!

Squat Test

Today’s focus is to work on the calf, therefore take a mental note on the tightness of the calf as you squat into the seated position.

Using a mirror to help engage a brain / body connection, practise your squat. Take note of where you are tight and how deep you can go on your squat.

Set your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. With a straight back and open shoulders, slowly bend at the knees and drop your hips to lower your body. Ensure to push your knees out very marginally when you reach the 90° angle. If able, aim to deepen your squat beyond 90 degrees to the maximum range of your hip and squat ability. At the bottom of the exercise, squeeze your glutes and pause for a moment. Strongly push back up to the starting position, mirroring the descent. Keep your upper core engaged. Drive the energy through the heels to the glutes.

Complete 25-30 reps, according to your ability, and again, take note of the areas which feel tight and how deep you can go with this.

Activation Session

Pole Myofascial Release:  Using a pole or another household item like a broom, place yourself onto your knees and bring the pole to the back of the knee. Slowly sit down onto the pole and breathe through the sensation (which will be quite intense!). Hold for 15-20 seconds, slightly lift the legs up and bring the pole down by 1cm. Place weight back onto the pole and repeat further down the calf. You may find as you reach the bottom of the calf that you may ned to apply extra pressure onto the pole. You can do this with both hands. 

Foam Roller Massage: Begin by sitting onto the ground with the foam roller underneath the legs. Place one leg onto the foam roller and the other leg across the leg on the roller. Lift the hips and roll the foam roller back and forth onto the calf. Make slight movements to each side and if you find a trigger point (which will feel more sensitive than in other parts), breather out deeply and place extra pressure onto the trigger point. Complete for 2-3 minutes.

Wall Push Pulses : Begin with facing the wall. Both feet should face the wall. Have a small split stance between both feet. Ensure that the back foot has the heel connected to the ground as you bend the leg at the front. You will begin to feel a stretch onto the back of the calf. Pulse the knee in and out against the wall. Repeat for x1 minute then move onto the other leg. 

Bench Heel Drop: Find yourself a step or a surface where you can place both feet on. Drop one heel down of the side of the surface from the midline of the foot. Ensure the foot is facing forward and hold the stretch for x1 minute. Bring the foot back up and rotate to the left and drop, hold for x1 minute. Bring the foot up once more and drop out to the right and place the heel down one more time and hold for x1 minute. Repeat the same process with your other foot. 

Downward Dog Walks:  Get down on all fours. Start on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders above your wrists. Align your inner shoulders with your index fingers. Your hips should be above or slightly before your knees. Next, tuck your toes against the mat or ground, using that leverage to extend your legs and lift both knees into the air. Your body should now resemble an upside-down “V” shape. Extend and lengthen your spine, simultaneously pressing through the palms of your hands and balls of your feet. Pull your pelvis up toward the ceiling, using the triceps in your upper arms to help stabilize your form. Place pressure onto the back leg and you straighten it, the other leg should bend. Repeat the knee bend for x1 minute. 

Activation Session

Pole Myofascial Release:  Using a pole or another household item like a broom, place yourself onto your knees and bring the pole to the back of the knee. Slowly sit down onto the pole and breathe through the sensation (which will be quite intense!). Hold for 15-20 seconds, slightly lift the legs up and bring the pole down by 1cm. Place weight back onto the pole and repeat further down the calf. You may find as you reach the bottom of the calf that you may ned to apply extra pressure onto the pole. You can do this with both hands. 

Foam Roller Massage: Begin by sitting onto the ground with the foam roller underneath the legs. Place one leg onto the foam roller and the other leg across the leg on the roller. Lift the hips and roll the foam roller back and forth onto the calf. Make slight movements to each side and if you find a trigger point (which will feel more sensitive than in other parts), breather out deeply and place extra pressure onto the trigger point. Complete for 2-3 minutes.

Wall Push Pulses : Begin with facing the wall. Both feet should face the wall. Have a small split stance between both feet. Ensure that the back foot has the heel connected to the ground as you bend the leg at the front. You will begin to feel a stretch onto the back of the calf. Pulse the knee in and out against the wall. Repeat for x1 minute then move onto the other leg. 

Bench Heel Drop: Find yourself a step or a surface where you can place both feet on. Drop one heel down of the side of the surface from the midline of the foot. Ensure the foot is facing forward and hold the stretch for x1 minute. Bring the foot back up and rotate to the left and drop, hold for x1 minute. Bring the foot up once more and drop out to the right and place the heel down one more time and hold for x1 minute. Repeat the same process with your other foot. 

Downward Dog Walks:  Get down on all fours. Start on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders above your wrists. Align your inner shoulders with your index fingers. Your hips should be above or slightly before your knees. Next, tuck your toes against the mat or ground, using that leverage to extend your legs and lift both knees into the air. Your body should now resemble an upside-down “V” shape. Extend and lengthen your spine, simultaneously pressing through the palms of your hands and balls of your feet. Pull your pelvis up toward the ceiling, using the triceps in your upper arms to help stabilize your form. Place pressure onto the back leg and you straighten it, the other leg should bend. Repeat the knee bend for x1 minute. 

Retest Squat

It is time to now check your squat again. Remember to use a mirror to engage your mind/body and re-practise your squat.

Take note of where you are no longer tight and how much deeper you can go on your squat. Continual work on your squat and coinciding exercises will gradually highlight improvements in the strength of your legs.

RUNNERS TIP

Squats are a great stationary exercise for a runner as they help power your run by strengthening your hamstrings, hips, quadriceps, and glutes. If you feel your knees falling in when you squat, look to investing in a resistance band. This can sit just above your knees and as long as you push out your knees and keep the same retention, you will feel that on the outside of your glutes.