As the season gets into full swing, many of you will be pulling on your running shoes, ready to start training in preparation for events. Filled with enthusiasm for the months ahead, you might base your training on the theory that the more you run, the better you’ll be as a runner.
While this is true up to a point, and clocking up the miles is important (especially if you’re training for a half marathon or marathon), to become a better runner, you need to employ other strategies as well.
To help explain further, we’ve enlisted Katie Bulmer-Cooke, acclaimed professional fitness trainer, columnist and entrepreneur to give us her expert advice on how to become a better, fitter, faster, runner.
If you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and work on improving your time, then it’s time to mix up the tempo of your runs. You should train using a combination of steady state and interval runs. Steady state runs involve running at a medium intensity speed and maintaining it for the duration of your session. An example of this would be running for 45 minutes at a speed that allows you to converse with a friend as you go once a week. Meanwhile, interval runs can have set intervals, consisting of, say, 30 seconds of sprinting and 30 seconds at an easy jog, or they can employ the Fartlek training approach of varied speeds, interval lengths and inclines.
To support your run-based sessions, you should also include some sports-specific conditioning as part of your weekly routine. This session should focus on exercises and movements that mimic the action of running, work on improving range of movement at the joints and developing endurance and strength in the key running muscles. Examples of such exercises would include walking lunges, a single leg glare bridge and a single arm cable press with torso rotation.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-training when you’re working up to an event, but it’s vital you allow your body time to recover. Be sure to have at least one rest day per week and also consider including an active rest day, perhaps taking part in a Pilates or Yoga session to improve flexibility and core strength.
There will be times when you jump on the treadmill or head out to pound the pavements and you just aren’t feeling it. Your legs may feel heavy or you just can’t get into your stride, and that can be your body’s way of telling you that you need to re-consider your regime. Perhaps you need an extra rest day, or to switch more of your focus to conditioning as opposed to too many run-based sessions. Be sure to listen to your body and respond accordingly.
How to put it all together
Whether you’re taking your first steps into running or are a seasoned runner, creating a blend of all of the elements mentioned will take you strides closer to your goal.
Monday: Interval Run
Tuesday: Pilates Class
Wednesday: Fartlek Run
Friday: Conditioning Session
Saturday: Steady State Run
Sunday: Conditioning Session
If you’d like to push yourself that bit further when running, why not check out our challenges here?