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Take the next step this running season

The running season begins and the weather starts to heat up, and Australians are lacing up with the aim of improving their personal best times ahead of their respective fun runs. Take the next steps in your running performance with these useful tips.

 

As the weather eventually warms and summer approaches, thousands of Australians begin to lace up and pound the pavement for another season of fun runs, all with the aim to beat their time from the previous year.

Jogging laps of the local cricket oval or running steadily around the block, although very outdated, are still staple training programs for many runners out there. Work the following tips into your training regime to unlock your potential and take minutes off your next fun run time.

Get a running assessment

If you speak to any experienced golfer, their first piece of advice would be to get lessons early to stamp out any bad habits in your swing, as a bad technique will be harder to correct the longer you use it. Your running technique is no different.

Common flaws in running technique include over striding, landing on your heel, and excessively rotating your torso, all of which can add minutes to your running time, wear you out quicker, and most importantly, increase your risk of injury. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) can conduct a running assessment and provide you with real-time feedback, and tips to optimise your technique.

Mix up your sessions

In order to get the most out of your running, it is important to use different training formats that can help improve your endurance, speed, and fatigue threshold. Below are a number of different sessions that you should incorporate into your training plan:

 

  • Long slow distance: these are your traditional runs – start the clock, and head off for a nice, easy run for an extended time period. Pace should not be too much of a focus with this session, with the main aim being trying to simply get time and distance into your legs and condition your body to withstand the time period you will be running for on race day. Complete a long slow distance run once a week, preferably at the end of the training week.

 

  • Interval: these runs are broken up into a certain time or distance of higher-intensity running, coupled with a period of equal time or distance of slow, recovery jogging. An example of this might be running hard for 45 seconds, then jogging slowly to recover for another 45 seconds, and repeat for an overall time period. This aims to improve your resistance to the fatigue your legs experience, as well as bolster your cardiorespiratory fitness. Interval training should be completed once per week.

 

  • Tempo: another traditional training method, tempo runs involve setting out for a run of medium distance with a higher intensity than long slow distance runs. An example of this format may be someone training for a 21km event setting out for a 10km run at reasonable intensity. Again, this is designed to build your resistance to fatigue. Complete a tempo run once per week.

 

  • Hill reps: hills are a great way of improving your cardiorespiratory fitness, and can also help improve your leg strength. Hill training is quite taxing on the body, and therefore should be gradually worked into your program if you are new to running or do not have a solid training base. An example of a hill training session involves a hill of 300-500m in length, and running up this hill at a solid intensity 8-10 times, with a walking/jogging recovery back to the start. This should be completed no more than once per week, and for less experienced runners, should be followed up with a rest day.

 

Each session needs to be tailored to suit your current fitness levels and race conditioning. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) will be able to assist with setting you up with a well-structured running plan which accommodates your current condition, and a steady progressive overload approach to ensure you continue to improve.

EXAMPLE OF A WELL-STRUCTURED TRAINING WEEK

MON TUE WED THUR FRI SAT SUN
Tempo Interval Rest Hills Rest Long Slow Distance

 

Rest

 
Hit the gym

Resistance training (RT) is a key, and often forgotten, part of a runner’s training regime. Training your legs in the gym will improve their strength, which a large body of research indicates will transfer across to improved running performance – if done correctly. Your program needs to be very specific to allow you to reach your peak performance.

An AEP will be able to tailor a program based on your current level of strength and fitness, your running experience, and your goals, to help you optimise your performance.

 

Cross train

While the best way to improve your running fitness is, you guessed it, running, your body also needs some downtime from the stresses that running puts on it. Scheduling cross-training sessions into your program will off-load your body and allow it to recover properly, and reduce your risk of injury, while still working on your general cardiorespiratory fitness.

It also gives your program a sense of variety, helping to prevent you becoming bored or disinterested with your regime. Good examples of cross-training include swimming, cycling and the rowing machine. All of these options offload your joints while still being great forms of cardio respiratory exercise.

 

Enjoy it 

While getting your training right can be a technical process at times, don’t forget the main reason you are doing it, and probably why you started it in the first place – for the enjoyment.

Running is a wonderful form of exercise that allows you to experience a feeling of freedom and relaxation, which are cornerstones that we should always come back to if things within your training become frustrating. Beating personal best times are great goals to work towards, however should never compromise the physical and psychological benefits of your participation.

 

Things to remember

  • Organise a running assessment with an AEP to identify and correct any deficiencies in your technique that could be costing you minutes!
  • Use a combination of long slow distance, interval, tempo, and hill runs to optimise your fitness levels and race-day conditioning.
  • Work with an AEP to set up a tailored gym program to improve your running-specific strength. Research says that this can have a wonderful influence on your performance.
  • Cross-train regularly to give your body a break from the stresses that come with pounding the pavement.
  • Never forget the reason you began running the first place – the enjoyment of it.

 

 

 

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