Mark Cucuzzella is a somewhat peculiar coach: he does not coach normal humans but coaches those who belong to the Air Force. That’s right: Top Gun, supersonic jets, men and women hurtling through the skies at two thousand miles per hour. They run, too, oh yeah.
When he took over the program to train the troops, Cucuzzella could not believe his eyes: 2/3 of the Air Force were obese. Sixty percent of the Marines were in the same condition. Alarming numbers and even higher than the U.S. average, which counts about 40 percent of adults over 20 y-o as obese.
How to do it?
Cucuzzella had a very simple and effective program. Like the best movies, he put them all on the run but not before writing a manual (accompanied by some videos) where he explains what to do and how to do it. These are “tricks” that runners have well in mind but it’s always good to go over them. Among other things, the philosophy behind his method is apparently at odds with the brutal, military philosophy of the Air Force. In fact, Cucuzzella says you have to have fun doing it. Nothing could be simpler. He says that at the base there must be play because killing oneself with effort is no fun for anyone. Surprising enough that a man who trains men and women with the best psychophysical traits in the world should say that, isn’t it?
What, in short, are these tips? Let’s see.
Cucuzzella says to do this as often as you can. The risk most frequently associated with overtraining is injury, but he has a solution to avoid it. Running more the right way fortifies the skeletal muscle system and prevents many injuries. “You have to become resilient to injuries and not think that running causes them.”
Well, yes. He primarily targets soldiers and female soldiers, but their psychology may not necessarily be the same as that of many runners. “They always think they are judged by how they run and how fast they go,” says Cucuzzella, “but this approach is wrong. If you want to burn fat, you have to be in the aerobic zone, which, ironically, you reach not when you run like crazy.” So: if your goal-as with those in the Air Force-is to lose weight as well, forget the personal best and run at a pace that allows you to talk to a buddy. Don’t get to bursting, which is unnecessary (at least in this case)
Do not stretch (approximately)
Better yet: don’t do static stretching but favor dynamic stretching preparatory to running (light, warm-up running is fine too).
Stand up straight with that back!
Cucuzzella focuses a lot on stroke setting and says it is influenced by posture. By how you hold your back while you’re working, how you lift weights, the regard you have for it during the rest of the day when you’re not running. Having a well-set back makes running smoother. For this he recommends exercises specifically to be done in the office or in leisure time. Just to always prepare to run in the best way, not only when you run.
Use flat shoes
He is an apostle of theminimalist approach to running. He says “You can’t think you have good running technique if you do it on marshmallows,” meaning that over-cushioned shoes do not allow the body to find its natural balance. So he recommends shoes with very little cushioning and little or no drop. He is a bit radical in distancing himself from “normal” running shoes: if I open a restaurant, says Cucuzzella, I certainly don’t serve junk food.”
Let your fingers breathe
Use shoes with wide toes because the foot uses the toes to widen the footprint and better discharge force. If you force them not to spread, your feet will use other muscles to compensate, loading parts of the foot that are not designed by Mother Nature to do that job.
Once again, in true American style, Mr. Cucuzzella doesn’t pull any punches. What to eat? Do not eat junk food and therefore avoid sugars. “The junk you eat all comes back to you. With interest,” he says.
Brutal, direct but effective. After all, if you’re coaching soldiers, you’re not going to be so subtle about it.
(via The Manual)