Activate the Caboose! Glutes & Clams

As a writer, I love to read. I'm usually in the middle of a few good books, savoring some bit by bit and skimming others. This week I'm rationing one chapter a night of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I'm loving it. I'm going to buy it for my Dad for his birthday. My Dad taught me how to run.

This is a picture of him trying to teach me how to run. It was taken back in our old Minnesotan neighborhood. Most of the time we laughed because I ran like a stick person, with straight arms and clenched fists, no elbow bend at all. Though in this picture I have tons of bend in one arm, but the arm-leg swing matchup is messed up.

I remember those lessons, along with many practice runs searching for balance on my 2-wheeler. *See that huge orange fire hydrant, I hit that while riding my bike. I finally did learn how to ride my bike. It helped that my little sister started riding hers first--before me! Not right!

Later on, I ran a lot as a soccer player, and then as cross-training with the crew team at UW-Madison. Technically I knew one thing about running--I liked doing it. My speed's changed (+/-) over the years, my elbows bend and my hands are more relaxed. But I have a ton of room to grow--what a great spot to be.

Recently I took Jessi Stensland's excellent Swim-Bike-Run MovementU workshop. We did a lot during the eight-hour session (dynamic warmups, movement prep, movement sessions, regeneration and recovery & snack & lunch)!

I loved many things about learning with Jessi:
- She's passionate about her subject and about helping athletes of any level learn more about their bodies and how to move well for life.
- Most of the drills were new to me and I struggled with some. But Jessi had tons of cue points ready when I needed them. Small little points helping me find that mysterious midfoot or relax my back extensors.
- I was shocked when she immediately figured out the real issue I was having with box jumps wasn't the jumping motion itself, but instead I was worrying about the landing... how did she KNOW my secret fears?!

We focused on points of power and where power comes from in the body. First we looked at the pillar and stabilized our spine by:
1- Activating the Transverse Abdominus. This I could do. Last summer, Bob Seebohar had us contract our TVAs during his entire session at the USA Triathlon Coaching Clinic. And I do a lot of vacuums thanks to trainer Dustin Maher and his effective exercises. *See Dustin demo the vacuum.
2- Activating the external obliques to keep ribcage parallel to spine.
3- Extending through the thoracic spine, cue-push the top of the head toward the sky. I love this one, it feels good to lift up and decompress through my crunched neck area.

Jessi led us through many movements. My best test exercise was the clam shell. Like this with a mini band around the knees. I've always loved the clam shell, so I was happy to do it correctly without activating my ITband. Fire the glute!

The glute bridge test was difficult. Jessi worked with each of us on the bridge, making sure we could perform it with neutral spine. I can glute bridge all day but not with neutral spine. Other athletes moved on to glute marching, but I'm going to focus on the glute bridge for awhile.

If I can figure out how to activate and use my glutes, I'll be stronger & faster. Currently I'm working on body awareness on the bike and run, specifically thinking about those glutes. When I'm running I call it "firing up the caboose" and sometimes it makes sense I get it and can feel the difference. So for now, that's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Basically I need to change from a stick-arm runner to a glute-charged athlete. I know I have LOTS of power in my glutes. When I can activate them & use them efficiently, it'll be a good thing. Thanks Jessi!
photo: the caboose from our train set.

- From Weight-room Workouts for Cyclists Part One. **I love deadlifts! And I'm encouraged to read in this article "deadlifts also strengthen the thoracic erectors, upper-back muscles that keep us more upright and pain-free from shoulder and neck problems due to poor posture." Double-bonus!

- 6x Ford World Ironman Champion Dave Scott talks about getting aero on the bike and how the glutes must be the firing system in this great video.

- Rudy Garcia-Tolson fired his amazing glutes 140.6 miles in 2009 becoming the first double above-knee amputee to finish an Ironman. Read Lee Gruenfeld's profile of Rudy's race experience and turn to p. 58 of the April 2010 Triathlete Magazine for a profile featuring Rudy and his coach Muddy Waters. I'd love to meet Rudy one day, so inspiring!

- This research snippet looks at patterns of leg muscle recruitment in cyclists. There are 91 cycling-related items within the Journal of Electromyography & Kinesiology's site.

photo: What a fun, great group of athletes! I hope to connect with you all again in the future. I'm second from the left, black coat, blue shirt.

Questions for You:
- Can you "fire up" the glutes?
- Do you love the clam shell?
- What's your favorite glute-builder?


Velma said...

Great post! I am all about the wall sit. I wish I knew about the TVAs before I hurt my back :( I work on them all the time now!

Victory is Finishing said...

Great article...loaded with info.
That Core Knowledge site is just what I needed to help me work on my core this season. Thanks for all the info and tips!
Train safe

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Thanks guys for reading & commenting!

I love that coreperformance site - so much GOOD info!

I hope you both feel well, strong & ready for your seasons!
:-) Sara