You want to get better at running right, that’s why you’re here, reading this under that catchy headline?
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret, there are no shortcuts. However, there are simple changes you might be able to make that will produce results.
Still reading? Excellent, thank you! I’m sure I’ve lost a few already. You must be committed! I’m going to share with you the two things I consider most important in making steady improvements.
Becoming a better runner involves going out and running, a lot. You’ll see training plans all over the internet and in magazines. You might download and follow one, or adapt one to fit your own life. You might make one up yourself completely or have one set by a friend or a coach. One thing they’ll all have in common is that you go out the door and run.
But what kind of running? Easy? Threshold? Speedwork? Tempo? Recovery? Long Run? And then there’s further questions such as how fast/slow? And how long?
And this brings me to my first point.
I’ve seen marathon plans that will have you running a 20 miler even though weekly mileage hits a maximum of 35 per week. I’ve seen lots of runners who ONLY run fast on all of their runs. And I see lots of injured runners who don’t take adequate rest.
The rules I recommend are as follows:
- PACE – normal(easy) running, workouts, and recovery runs should all have a notably different feel to them.
- Fast runs – these are your opportunities to run FAST, make the most of them
- Long Runs – try and keep it below 30% of your overall weekly mileage, I personally like to keep it under 2 hours too.
- Speedwork – keep this well below 10% of your overall weekly mileage
What do these rules mean? They should mean that you feel fresh enough to tackle your speedwork effectively, and that you are developing a strong aerobic engine without over-training.
If your speedwork or long run go over these amounts, they often demand more recovery time which may result in lost training days…..or worse…..injury.
A simplified example training week – play with the no’s but pay attention to the %’s
Total Mileage: 40 miles
Long Run: 10 miles = 25%
Speedwork: 3 miles = 7.5% (eg 12 x 400m)
Tempo run: 5 miles – pace between HM to 10k pace.
Easy runs: 22 miles
Rest: At least one full day.
Getting the BALANCE right will mean you are more likely to achieve my second point without incurring injury or fatigue.
This bit’s easy on paper. Just go out and do it, week in/week out. But as we all know, life likes to throw obstacles in the way, so here are my tips on remaining consistent:
- Make sure you’re enjoying running
- Write a weekly plan (but be prepared to change it)
- Get the balance right to avoid injury
- Keep your runs/routes varied to keep it interesting
- Increase volume or pace over a period of weeks, don’t make big jumps.
- Find a partner or club to maintain motivation
Final Important point.
- Listen to your body!
If it’s getting tired after a number of weeks, it might mean you need to pull back on something. Maybe cut the mileage, or trim your pace a little.
Your body will normally give you signs that its reaching breaking point (elevated resting heart-rate, poor sleep, lack of motivation, restlessness, halt in progress etc.) listen to them before it’s too late.
We walk a fine line between peak performance and overtraining, lets try and stay on the right side.
Rest and recovery is equally as important as running, its where your body adapts to the training you’re putting it through. This will demand a blog post all of its own but here’s 3 quick pointers:
- Find yourself a good Sports Masseuse to help with mobility & maintenance once a month
- Find yourself a running-friendly Yoga teacher who understands how to stretch you out without taking too much tension out of your muscles.
- Get on top of your nutrition as this helps everything from rebuilding to refuelling
If you can keep up well balanced training consistently then results WILL follow.