“But I hate running!  Why are we running?  I skate I don’t run!” 

I hear this from almost every hockey player this time of year.  But guess what?  We still run as part of our off-season training.  There are quite a few variables that go into the prescription of the proper amount of running that we do.  First and foremost, we take injury history into account.  Proper running technique is also taught for injury prevention.  Long Term Athletic Development describes the need for young athletes to be multi-sport athletes and running is an important ingredient to making a resilient skater.

At this time of year in the off-season, aerobic conditioning plays a larger role in our training than any other time of year.  Our ability to recover between shifts on the ice during a game largely comes from our aerobic base.  We are able to utilize our energy systems to skate hard for our shift, recover, and skate again over and over for a 60-minute game.  To build this base we can go for long easy runs (Heart Rate of 60-70%) once or twice a week.  This can then be supplemented with one day of sprints and speed work on the third day of the week.  Add in a minimum of two days of lifting in the gym and that’s a pretty solid load.  Skating is at a minimum for now only working on skill work until we transition into the next phase of the training program as we get closer to the start of next season.  Ice touches will then increase.

There are several methods that can be used for the day of speedwork in this phase.  Compete in Yorba Linda has a great hill to run on and a large stairway.  These two methods are more similar in ground contact times and forces to skating than running alone.  Proper amounts of repetitions and distances should be monitored by a professional strength coach or athletic trainer to keep the workouts age appropriate and safe.  The old-fashioned school of thought or running stairs, until you’re exhausted, is a fast track to injury.

Yes, running can be boring.  Yes, running can be hard.  But yes, running can help you be better.   

Mike Hannegan is an Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach with ten years of experience in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.  He is currently the Director of the Compete Sports Performance and Rehabilitation facility inside The Rinks Yorba Linda Ice located in beautiful Orange County, CA.  He can be reached at mike@competeperformance.com or through our website at www.competeperformance.com