Training for any run can be really exciting, but it often has challenges.
There are a few key elements to focus on that will improve not only your running, but also your recovery and reduce your risk of injury.
1. Not too little, not too much!
Whether you are starting to run for the first time, or you have a bit more experience under your belt, working out the optimal training load can be tricky.
The rule of thumb for increasing training load is 10% every 2 weeks.
With brand new runners, I would always suggest starting off with 2 running sessions within a week, and sticking to 2 sessions for a fortnight before adding a 3rd session. By training in this way, you can schedule a rest day after your run to recover. It isn’t necessary to run every day either. Anything more than 3 sessions per week is more than enough load to see improvements in your running, but running every day if you aren’t used to it can put you at higher risk of overdoing it!
2. Consistency is key!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a zippy 10 km PB. Running training takes consistency of effort, from session to session, week to week and month to month. Set yourself a goal, construct an achievable plan and stick to it. You will be amazed when the improvements start rolling in!
3. Intervals are your friend!
Running is a repetitive task, jumping from one leg to the other over and over again. Running places strain and load on our joints, muscles and bones. Load is a great thing, load is how we adapt, however it needs to be managed appropriately. What we know about our bones is that they have receptors or ‘listening ears’ that engage when we start to run and tell our bones to get stronger. However, these receptors get bored quite quickly (within minutes) from the repetition of just running, and they stop sending messages.
If we just run continuously, our bones don’t get the message to be stronger. However, if we change our training slightly to include interval style exercise that includes periods of faster efforts and slower or walking efforts, our bones tend to respond in a more favourable way.
4. Cross train & Strengthen!
Another extremely important component to running training is to strengthen. Running requires power, strength and endurance in our major muscle groups. When we run, our soleus muscle (part of the calf) takes over 8 times our body weight in loading forces. That’s a lot! To better prepare these muscles for running, we need to keep them strong.
Completing a simple lower limb strength circuit 2-3 times per week at a level where we end up feeling fatigued and challenged is perfect to supplement our running strength. An example circuit is below:
Complete the circuit 3 times around, completing 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, each time. Complete slowly, with control and balance.
- Single leg calf raises
- Single leg sit to stand
- Single leg bridge
Recover like a pro! (sleep, eat, hydrate)
This one seems pretty straight forward, but you would be amazed how many people don’t quite tick all the boxes in terms of simple recovery. Try and achieve a minimum of 8 hours of good quality sleep each night. Ensure you drink between 2-3 litres of water each day. Food is fuel! Keep yourself healthy with a balanced diet, to ensure you have the energy to train effectively.