The Power Run: Wolverine Strength and Conditioning!
You want to be a whippet-lean, ultra-marathon-worthy bolt of greased lightning with a freerunner’s athletic insouciance. It would also be nice to have the chiseled muscularity of an Olympic gymnast. You’d like to lose some weight, but not muscle mass. Conditioning, resting heart rate diminution, and lungs of steel are also on your fitness wish list. Oh yeah, one other thing, $10 a month at the big box fitness center is already stretching your limited fitness budget. (Especially since you quit going there after 2 months, bored and unable to tolerate running on a treadmill covered with someone else’s sweat in a room full of strangers all watching celebrity gossip on a big screen television. Also, you don’t think yellow and purple go together.)
Fear not, the Power Run delivers what you want!
What is Power?
Power in physics terms refers to force exerted over time, thus, pressing 100 pounds in 2 seconds is a greater display of power than pressing the same weight in 5 seconds. The Oxford English Dictionary (my favorite) devotes two and a half pages to defining the word “power”. The first definition is: “Ability to do or effect something or anything, or to act upon a person or thing.” The OED then includes this quote from 17th century British philosopher John Locke: “Power is another of those simple ideas which we receive from Sensation and Reflection.”
Though derived from a philosophical context, this comment applies well to the physical reality of the Power Run. The “Sensation” attained as a result of the “ability to do…something or anything” will, upon “Reflection”, “act upon a person” with a tremendous net positive result.
Power, in terms of confidence, ability, self-esteem, and myriad other markers, will accrue to you as a result of the ensuing program!
The Power Run
The concept behind this training modality is classic Strongility: Get outside and get strong/fast/graceful. The earth is your gym and you are an animal! Simply speaking, you will go for a jog interspersed with strength and mobility oriented movements. For general physical preparation, this is superior to simply running because it injects other attributes of fitness as well as an invigorating draught of anaerobic stress. Never boring, the Power Run can be different every time because it is fueled by your imagination and creative genius!
1. To begin, pick a running route of approximately 1-2 miles according to your ability level. The chosen route MUST include at least some of the following characteristics:
- anything that can be perceived as an obstacle
2. Next, decide on a basic bodyweight exercise that you would like to focus on. Choose from:
- push-ups (push focus)
- pull-ups (pull focus)
- sit-ups (core focus)
- squats (leg focus)
3. Endeavor to incorporate as many as possible of the following mobility actions:
Now bolt the pieces together! Wear exercise attire that you don’t mind getting dirty or torn. Having selected your route, begin to run at a relatively slow pace. At every possible suitable “obstacle”, perform a predetermined number of reps of the body weight exercise that you selected in step 2. For instance, suppose that you chose pullups. If you can crank out 15 pullups as a max, set the goal of doing a conservative 4 or 5 pull-ups at each possible location. Pull-ups can be done palms toward you, palms away, staggered grip, etc. Use tree branches, bars on playground equipment, parallel hanging chains on a swingset, girders under a bridge, a soccer goal post, etc. With regard to your run, the only “rest” you are allowed is the time taken for other activities.
So there you are, running along the route you have chosen, stopping at intervals to up the intensity factor by blasting out 4 pull-ups on various obstacles.
Now insert step 3, incorporating mobility actions.
Run to a tree; climb it to the top as fast as possible. Climb down. (4 pull-ups on the lowest branch) Continue to the picnic table where you will swiftly drop to the ground and crawl under it. (4 rows off the bottom of the table) Running across a field, you leap over a guardrail and ascend a concrete bridge abutment on hands and knees. (4 pull-ups dangling from the bridge girder) Now you run up a steep hill, your breath coming in ragged gasps. (4 pull-ups on the monkey bars) You clamber up onto a balcony, walk balancing across the railing and leap off to the ground.
The idea is not to stop. This is harder than it sounds; your lungs will be screaming at you even if you are not able to run quickly. At the same time, you will be getting an upper body workout that will make gorillas jealous!
As with any workout, you will probably desire measurable evidence of progress. This is easily attained in various ways as noted below.
- SPEED– Use a stopwatch and determine how long it takes you to complete a predetermined route. Try to better your time during the next session.
- REPS -Add repetitions. If you did 7 sets of 8 push-ups during the last run, try for 8 of 8 the next time.
- DISTANCE– Incrementally increase the running distance covered.
- VARIETY– Add another bodyweight exercise as you become fitter. For instance, sit-ups and squats in the same session
Creativity is Vital
Remember, this is supposed to be about freedom and creativity. It is a workout that should remain unbesmirched by the restraints of convention. Have fun! Invent new ways to push your personal limits. While the measurable charting of progress is valuable, don’t become a slave to your training log. I have found this to be a fantastic group workout in a “follow the leader” format. Each person in a group gets a chance to take the lead and determine what will be the “agony du jour”; the rest of the group must try to match the prowess of the leader.
Seek out variations of the core exercises. For instance, try push-ups with your feet up on the seat of a swing, hanging leg raises instead of sit-ups, single leg squats with your free leg dangling off the edge of a picnic table, one arm bodyweight rows holding on to a low tree branch while your heels are on the ground. Opportunities for variety are endless, give your imagination a workout, too!
If stifling in the fetid air of a fitness center is not your thing, you will love the Power Run. Besides eliminating boredom, it will jack your cardiovascular endurance to beast-like levels. Your body will ripple with muscle gained sweating under the beautiful sky. Power Running will make you a better poet, lover and philanthropist.
Furthermore, this program is totally scalable to all fitness levels. If you are more accustomed to lifting donuts than barbells, you can still ease into a power run by converting the run to a brisk walk and using easier versions of the core movements. If exercise is what you customarily have for breakfast, turn up the burn by running faster and performing more difficult calisthenics. If you can squeeze in ten 1-arm pull-ups while running a 6 minute mile uphill barefoot, you are truly a beast! Until then, don’t ever complain that the Power Run is too easy.
If you decide to try this, please leave a comment with regard to how wolverinish you feel!