People who don’t run will see this picture of me with a tire drag and wonder what the hell I’m doing. But if you’re a runner, I bet you recognize this contraption and have wondered how to set one up for yourself.
Good thinking. I’ve used this training method for years, including 1.5-hour road drags in preparation for my run across America. Using a tire drag is the best form of sport-specific cross-training a runner can do. When you pull a tire, you change the points of resistance and load on your body, and you train your muscles in a way that’s slightly different from your regular running gait.
The key is the light to medium resistance on your mid-section that you get from pulling the tire, something like a husky hauls a sled.
By doing this, you get core and strength training while you run, along with the bonus of entraining your mind with your body as you put one foot in front of the other. In other words, your body and mind work constantly to make micro changes in your gait, working together to keep you upright and moving forward in an unbalanced situation.
Tire Drag: Major Benefits
- It’s better than “regular” running: it’s lower impact, requires you to run upright, recruits muscles you don’t normally use, and more intensely works out your calves, quads, and upper body.
- The tire drag targets some of the hard-to-tone muscles like abs and glutes. Nothing like it for the stomach and butt!
- Pulling a tire trains you to run using the midsection. After training this way, you’ll run from your core even when you aren’t pulling the tire.
- You’ll improve your form, especially if you pay attention and concentrate on that (see “How to Train Pulling the Tire” below).
- Using a tire drag simulates running hills, which is especially helpful if you live in a flat place but need to train for a hilly course.
- You’ll strengthen your knees and improve overall balance.
Ready to go? Gather up these parts and get started …
What You’ll Need to Make Your Tire Drag
Old tire. Any brand, 13-, 14-, or 15-inch rim diameter. The bigger you are, the bigger the tire. Source: any junk yard.
Leather weight belt. Choose one that’s wide, 3 to 4 inches on the back, with some padding. Make sure it’s a comfortable fit for you. Source: sporting goods store.
Nylon cord or rope. The cord should be 1/4 to 3/8 inches in diameter. You’ll need two pieces, one about 12 inches long, and another one about 8 feet long. Source: hardware store.
Stiff bungee cord. This should be hard to expand and 48 inches long, with carabiners on each end. Source: hardware store.
Phillips screwdriver or drill. You need something capable of getting through the weight belt padding and the tire. source: hardware store.
How to Assemble Your Tire Drag
1. Punch a hole through the weight belt in the back, through the padding on the top and bottom, and thread the cord behind the padding. Loop it around the back of the belt and tie securely, leaving an inch slack or gap between the back of the belt and the cord.
2. Attach the bungee cord to the rope on the weight belt using the carabiner.
3. Attach another piece of nylon cord or rope to the other end of the bungee cord by making a loop in the cord and attaching it to the carabiner.
4. Drill a hole in the center of the tire that’s just big enough for the cord to be punched through with a Phillips screwdriver or something similar.
5. Thread the cord through a quarter-inch washer and then tie a double or triple knot (one on top of the other), big enough so it won’t pull back through the hole in the tire.
That’s it! Now you’re ready to pull!
Where to Train With a Tire Drag
A gravel road usually provides the least resistance, a concrete bike path more resistance, and somewhat rough asphalt provides the most resistance. You can use any of these surfaces for your training, depending on how hard you want your workout to be. (Trails aren’t appropriate for pulling a tire.)
On the flat, you can pull the tire to increase the benefit of Fartlek or interval training.
On hills, pull hard going up to develop your glutes and calves, and run at a brisk pace going down to develop your quads or take an easier pace on the downhill for recovery.
How to Train With a Tire Drag
Choose the appropriate location (surface, grade) depending on the goals of your workout.
Secure the weight belt in a comfortable position and place the tire behind you.
Pull from your midsection in a purposeful manner. Envision a string drawing you forward from your navel.
Stay upright and with your shoulders back to open the chest and airways, and keep your chin up and your eyes looking forward down the road.
Pump with your arms bent at a 90-degree angle.
Lift your legs high. Use a shorter stride for form, or a longer stride for power.
Start training by pulling the tire one-half mile.
Increase distance by 1/4 to 1/2 mile in one to two-week increments until the pulling distance is 3 to 6 miles, or about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours if you’re training for a marathon or working to get in optimum shape.
You can run longer distances/times pulling the tire if you’re training for races longer than a marathon.
How Often to Train With a Tire Drag
- Once a week while you’re in training.
- Not at all if you feel a muscle starting to pull. Muscles should tighten up, but not to the point of pain.
Happy Tire Pulling!
Sure, it’s a “drag” … but you can have fun with it. Enjoy!