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VIDEO: Reactive Training for Runners

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If you were an athlete in high school or college, reactive training might be familiar. But, you came to running later in life, have never done any other sports or are a self-coached runner the idea of reactive training might be a totally new concept. Adding reactive training to your FARTLEKs, hills, sprints and racing can help make you a stronger, more efficient runner.

"Reactive training is rate of force production--it is generating a lot of force in a short amount of time. It is good for runners because it intensifies how the nervous system and the muscular system work together, more so than if you are just going out for a normal run," said Brian Albert, personal trainer/owner of Grand Rapids Personal Training.

Reactive training can be a sprint, or a jump or any activity that gives the body a burst of force. "It is good because you are training your body to be faster and stronger. It will help decrease your time because you'll be able to pick your foot up faster and it will be stronger. You'll also have a shorter amount of time between strides and a longer stride length--you'll be taking fewer steps overall. And that's good for your joints," said Albert.

Runners who practice reactive training are likely to feel what Albert calls a more explosive step. That is, bursting forward with more force. It is an element that should also improve a runner's time. "In most sports where speed is of the essence you'll see reactive as part of the training. You see it in football, track and tennis any sport that require quick movements to get to a ball or to a person," he said.

Albert says that reactive drills should incorporated every time you train. "It only takes a couple of minutes to do, it isn't anything that is long or drawn out. It refreshes your muscle memory, it connects the nerves and muscular system," he said. "Just stretching when you train, you should also do a few minutes of reactive."

He recommends that reactive be incorporated after you are warmed up and stretched out or post-run. "You don't want to do it right away because you are applying force, so you want to be well-warmed up," he added.  Albert said that reactive training can increase blood flow and thus blood pressure and advises that you talk with your physician before you incorporate any reactive exercises.

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