The Electro Stimulation Experiment!

And so the countdown to the big day has begun!
My 50 miler event is in little over a week and the nerves have already started.

This weeks training consists of a 10km, 12km and 20km run. And thank god tapering has begun as I feel like I couldn’t be in greater need of the recovery time.
So for anyone who may be interested in what sort of preparation it takes for an event of this nature I will give you the basic run down on what has gotten me to this point of fatigue, keeping in mind I haven’t yet run 50 miles. I have only aimed to prepare as best I know how for my body. I strongly advise anyone else wishing to undertake a 50 mile event consult a reputable running coach in their local area for advice and not simply follow what I have recorded here.

So originally prior to deciding to train up for 50 milers, I had already been doing regular maintenance runs of 10-20 kms 2 or 3 x a week.
And so with that in mind my 10 week preparation started with the format of one week being a shorter distance training week, followed by a longer distance training week.
My longer distance training weeks always included 2 runs ranging from 5-20km runs with one super long working up from 4 hours up to 6.5 hrs.
My shorter training weeks would include 3 runs, ranging from 10 kms to 30kms including speed work, intervals, hills, beach running and sprints.

strength and conditioning training collageAs well as my running program, I have also been doing regular strength training 2-4 x a week.
On my own I would cover any 2 or three muscle groups, including arms, shoulders, back, chest, legs and sometimes core.
I have also been doing one strength and conditioning session with my Strength and Conditioning Coach, covering any major body parts I was not able to cover on my own in the same week.

I have also been trialling a new type of training called Body Tech training. I had originally heard about Body Tech training from a personal training client of mine who suggested I give it a go to give my current workouts a different dimension and to help build core strength. Body tech is a type of technology brought over from America which works on electro stimulation of the muscles to increase overall strength and core conditioning.

electro training collageSo what is body tech training.. really? Essentially it’s what I would relate to as a giant tens machine similar to what they use at physios. So you get this special outfit of black stocking like material leggings and a 3/4 sleeve top to put on with no underwear underneath. The trainer then puts on a vest and attaches all these electrodes that connect to pads covering your major muscle groups. Once the machine is turned on an electric current is then sent down the wires to stimulate all your major muscle groups at once for 4 secs on and then 4 secs off. As your trainer instructs you through a series of exercises both weight-bearing and non weight-bearing to help you to get stronger.
Sounds like some crazy scientist shiz from back when shock treatment was around for the treatment of schizophrenia right?

Well the science behind it is that the electro stimulation of the muscles helps to recruit more muscle fibres (approx. 80-90%) than by just doing normal weight training (normally 75% muscle fibre recruiting) to (if already correct movement chain patterns are established) strengthen the contraction and stability of the contraction of your muscles when needed to perform movement.
In other words you gain better balance, better isometric core strength, and also while increasing your overall muscular strength as well.
Interesting concept which I thought I would adopt for this training program and see how I went.

My verdict now that I’ve finished the course is that it really has improved my core and balance and also made me aware of my weaknesses. I now realise that my left side is stronger yet I hitch my right hip and left shoulder while exercising. I have then worked on having slightly more electro stimulation on my right side (the trainer can adjust the amount of electro stimulation for muscle individually) to gain better left-right side balance in strength, which consequently has improved as I have progressed. My trainer also worked to strengthen my back postural muscles so I now run more upright and for longer.
We will see just how much that helps in reality for my fifty miler!