Another day, another DRC link-up and this time with Maz Kaczmarczyk, DRC member and strength and conditioning guru at SoulTrain H&F. We sent a small group down to meet him last week and then caught up with him later in the week to chat through what happened and how he'll be linking up with DRC.
Maz, tell us, who are you, what do you do and where are you based?
Hey all, I’m Maz (Kaczmarczyk) and I’m a Strength & Conditioning/Athletic Development Coach based in the SoulTrain H&F facility just opposite Climax Fishing Tackle, Dronfield. Like most of you reading this, I’m a passionate runner and lover of the outdoors in general. I enjoy getting out on the road, trails and fells (XC is usually in some school field, right?) as often as I can. I really enjoy helping others, be they involved in high level sports/athletics, just getting into exercise and movement, or looking to improve their health & wellbeing - regardless of age. When it comes to age, we work with everybody from Masters athletes to Juniors just finding their feet, and as we’re a super inclusive bunch, everybody is treated with the same deserved respect. I’m chasing the heels of all the above too, oof.
Why is Strength and Conditioning important for runners and is it something that all runners need to do?
I’m a firm believer in the inclusion of a Strength & Conditioning component to any runners schedule - and this can be applied to athletes across sporting disciplines. In fact, it’s an approach that would benefit most members of the public in general, but we can save that for a future post. I’ll just start with a couple of the key benefits:
Improved running economy
Improved top end speed
Potential improved resilience to and recovery from injury
Ok, what does this mean and how can it help you? In a nutshell, it would be nice if we could run a little further, higher or harder, but at the same time use our energy (plus, cardio, neural and musculoskeletal) systems a little more efficiently. Picture a Tesla car (I know nothing about cars btw) that you can charge electrically for a few minutes, then drive rapidly for hundreds of miles, versus a gas guzzling Rolls Royce that takes 20 minutes to fill with petrol, only to have to repeat the job at the next service station. This is going someway to simplify Running Economy (RE) and it’s something we’ll explore in the future. An improvement in top end speed is fairly self-explanatory. Simply put, there’s the potential for you to run faster and this has carry over when you are running at other velocities (cruising towards a Parkrun PB sounds nice hey). Now there’s no such thing as a silver bullet when it comes to preventing injury, and if you look at yourself or chat with friends, you’ll all more than likely have experienced time off running, through injury. The inclusion of a considered S&C programme (alongside other interventions) has the potential to help mitigate this risk. How’s this? It’s a multifactorial answer. We can help a runner to become physically stronger (think structural) and to improve functional ability (think movement) through strength training and dynamic movement. Crikey, some benefits right there and plenty to investigate in future discussions.
We sent along some of the DRC team and members to see you. What did they do?
It was great to see a small group from the DRC team in the unit. There was a mix of runners with different backgrounds and abilities in respect of both running and strength training (gym use). For this reason, I pulled together a fairly generic programme to accommodate all.
After introductions and some housekeeping (social distancing, hygiene etc) plus pointing out the assigned hygiene baskets we got started with a little SMR (self-myofascial release). A nice bit of rolling using the lacrosse balls to aid blood flow with a focus on the lower limb/calf area.
Next up we moved through a Dynamic Warm Up/Activation section. Wherever possible I like to demonstrate an approach that can be used outside of the gym, pre training/race with options to be used in a wet pothole filled car park. The aim here is to prepare the body (and mind) for the session ahead. Here we work on all-over mobility with a couple of runner specific drills thrown in (including A drills). This provides a great opportunity for the coach to start eyeing up movement, ability, and athlete’s current wellbeing too.
We then introduced Jump/Plyometric movements in the form of ball slams and box jumps, along with a little core work (anti-lateral flexion) to complete a circuit. I’ll do a little more of a deep dive into the whys and how’s of programming these in a future post. The key element here is they are effective, safe, and super fun. A couple of the DRC team members challenged and surprised themselves with the jumps. Well done.
Following on we moved to the Strength Focused Component. I created 2 x short circuits introducing some of the Strength Training staples; hinge (deadlift), squat (single leg split squats), press, pull, plus mobility and core (anti rotation with bird dogs) focused movements. The short circuits allow for an efficient way to train all-over body targeting area/movements appropriate to our sport, while at the same time providing the opportunity to learn new skills.
To close we discussed cool down and approaches to the recovery process which starts at this point (and is super relevant). We chatted through take home breathing exercises and again, this is something to come back to in future.
The DRC group was an absolute pleasure to work with here. Well done all trying new movements and challenging yourselves. Pats on backs.
You will be starting to do a regular blog for members of DRC. What can they expect to see from you?
I’m looking forward to writing a regular blog covering some of the areas (S&C, Athletic Development), ideas and thoughts mentioned above. I’d love to involve as many members as possible as knowing a few of you there are some great stories out there, some of which easily relate to training concepts. Plus, there are other’s in the club with relatable skills!
The idea is to look at training approaches in different environments, the gym, at home, and on the road. Demystifying, simplifying and hopefully having some fun along the way.