If you are a runner, chances are that you want to run faster, easier and more effortless. Even after years of running we sometimes don’t experience the desired improvements. The following article will help you gain some insights on how to train to achieve your goal!
Common mistakes, which prevent a runner from getting better, are often “practice instead of training” or “overdoing their training” [read more: A]. Let me explain. If we, on one hand, run the same route with the same speed a couple of times each week, we will not get better, because we practice what we are already able to do. Our body doesn’t need to adjust. That’s great to maintain a certain fitness level but not helpful to get better. If we, on the other hand, include sprint-training, interval-training, stairs and uphill running in one week, we definitely overdo it. That’s the complimentary ticket to injury and we miss out on effects of different training intensities.
To design a good training schedule, we have to combine basic principles of training, balance is definitely one of them .
Your body needs different intensities to get better. Each tempo helps to develop unique qualities like the efficiency of energy supply, resistance to fatigue and a good running technique.
To be able to assess your training zones, you can either (whichever is better) undergo a performance test like ergospirometry [let me know if you are interested], which is very accurate and doesn’t require a certain fitness level. If that is not an option you can use your breath as a guideline. This is far more accurate than using the rule of thumb to calculate your heart rate, based on your theoretical maximum heart rate [B].
Planning your training as a runner should consider 4 basic rules to get better and faster but to stay injury free as well.
Rule 1: A Runner needs a stable base
The base of each runner is an efficient energy supply as well as resilient structures like joints and ligaments. This foundation is built by “basic endurance training”, which means to run slow. Increase the duration by no more than 10% each week, to give your body the time it needs to adjust .
Tip: If you can talk to your (virtual) neighbor, you are probably in the right speed-zone for your current fitness level. Don’t worry if this requires you to walk for some minutes during your run. The speed might feel easy for you, but it is actually hard work for your metabolism to learn using your energy sources efficiently. Your body will adjust to the training demands step by step.
If you are not a sprinter, about 80% of your training time should be used for basic endurance training. The chosen intensity teaches your body to rely on fats as the main energy-source while saving the carbohydrates for later when you need them [more on Fat Burning you find here: C]. In addition, the slow tempo prepares muscles and ligaments for higher intensity training sessions. You will get used to the tempo after some weeks. Which means you can run a little bit faster while still being able to talk to your (virtual) neighbor. These are the first signs of becoming a better runner.
Rule 2: Speed is the right spice for each Runner
From time to time your body and mind are happy about a challenge, such as easy interval training. If you are just starting out as a runner, these intervals are not full sprints. They are even not much faster than your basic endurance training. Once a week, intervals train your resistance to fatigue and the ability to recover faster. If you can breathe in on 3-4 steps and breathe out for the same duration, the intensity of the interval should be perceived as “moderate”. In between the intervals you can walk for the same duration as the interval before (for instance 1 minute) .
Rule 3: Improve your Running Effortlessly
Did you know that your body adjusts to training while resting after your session? Which means we should take rest as serious as training itself. It’s a good option to plan a recovery training each week, which is especially important once your weekly running-kilometers are increasing. Recovery training, not only for a runner, is active recovery. It improves blood flow and helps the reparation of small muscle tissue damages. Active recovery supports these processes much better than chilling on your couch.
Recovery training has some characteristics you should know to make the right choices. Activities which are low in intensity, preferably “whole body” movements like swimming, cycling, yoga, stretching, foam rolling or pilates are great choices. 20 minutes of recovery training is enough because it should not equal additional training load to your structures [D]. It’s mostly not recommended to recover from running by jogging because the same muscle groups are used again. Even strength training for your upper body has shown to be beneficial to recover your lower limbs.
Rule 4: Balance your Fitness
If you want to support your training even more, I recommend alternative training. Running is loading the same structures each time again. This can promote dysbalances, lower efficiency, limitations or even pain if running is the only sport you practice. Especially people who spend many hours each week at their desks, need balancing training next to their running routine. Running leads to great endurance in your legs, but the upper body often is weak and the core not stable enough. A balanced fitness always includes endurance, strength and flexibility training. There are plenty of options to complete your training regimen in a way you enjoy it. Classes in a gym (e.g. Core-Training, Bodyworkout etc.), swimming, yoga or pilates are great options to optimize your body’s athletic abilities.
Your complete training regimen
The following summary will help you to design your schedule accordingly by including the aspects mentioned above. Just let me know if you need more specific advice (contact).
- Basic endurance training: About 80% of your running training is supposed to be basic endurance training. Increase your total weekly running distance carefully, by no more than 10% each week to avoid injury.
- Interval-Training: Once a week, which can be about 20% of your running training duration, can be dedicated to interval training. If you are a beginner, increase intensity slowly, one parameter at a time: 1) duration of intervals, 2) decrease of break-duration, 3) and finally speed.
- Recovery Training: Once a week, recovery training can help to cope better with your training. 20 minutes of easy, whole body activities help to increase blood flow and speed up reparation processes. Yoga, pilates, swimming, and cycling are equally good.
- Alternative-Training: Once a week a different kind of training can boost your performance by increasing core-stability, strength and flexibility. Classes in your gym make it easy to choose from different options like Hot Iron, Core-Training or Full Body Workout. If you want to train at home, a basic Core-Training schedule can help a lot.
Let me know if you want to learn more about running. If you need some help with your running schedule, gait analysis, performance testing or some feedback regarding your mobility, just book your FREE 20-min consultation with me to learn more.
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 If you just started running training, I recommend booking a checkup with your doctor. Especially if you are older than 35 years and didn’t exercise for some time. It is recommended to make sure that running is supporting your health and to be aware of issues like blood pressure, diabetes or the health of your back.
 Depending on the number of runs you do each week, you could include a shorter and a longer basic endurance run.
 If you need more detailed recommendations or a training schedule, just let me know and book your running assessment with me at CityOsteoPhysio.com