Updated: Mar 28
Running is stressful, there is a physical and mental demand on your body. No matter who you are, a first time park runner, an experienced marathoner or even if you are chasing the long distance ultras, the demands are still felt. Individual lows, followed by small steps forward will lead you to the bigger picture and self accomplishment.
During this lockdown many people are running, either for the first time or a lot more than usual, so I thought I would try to help the beginners find some progression and also bring some enjoyment to the experienced runners.
This is the foundation. Without this, you open yourself up to failure and injuries. How to build your engine? Well simply put, get out there and spend time on your feet. The bigger your engine the more capable you will be to sustain your pace in the latter stages of a race, or hit those longer distances. Depending on your ambitions, you will need to build an engine big enough to match which could take some time. Consistency is key.
No matter where your starting point is, the engine will be built on long slow consistent runs. This means easy runs allowing the demand on your body to be kept low so you can recover and repeat.
If you are unable to repeat the workout multiple days in a row due to fatigue, you’re training too hard.
Remember your speed and time doesn’t matter during training, you won’t get a PB on every run. Training is for improvement and a race is for testing yourself, that is when the time matters.
Start with light jogging with intervals of walking ensuring you take note of the durations used. As you progress the time spent running will increase, with them time spent walking decreasing. Listen to your body and stick to timings that suit you.
Example - 3 minute running / 1 minute walking - repeat 5x = 20 minutes total time
Ideally upwards of 30 minutes of exercise is going to be the most beneficial. That's your target.
If you are struggling with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after the run and it is stopping you getting back out, switch it for a bike ride or a longer walk. Less demand on the body will help your recovery while still getting benefits. Trust the process and give your body time to adapt. You will see the benefits.
You will take longer to see benefits. Look to measure hours, miles and elevation per week. Find out the numbers you are currently working at and aim to increase one of them by 5-10% every couple of weeks/months and even years at the very top level - what timescale you use is up to you and what your overall goals are. The duration of the workout should be increased to above an hour to be more beneficial. Performing workouts multiple days in a row is a good way to increase the load. Remember If you can’t perform the same workout multiple days in a row, you are training too hard, and need to lower the intensity. Hard/demanding runs have their place but make sure they are planned so you can allow for a longer recovery.
I believe this is the most overlooked aspect of running. It's the repair process that is making us stronger. The greater the stress on the body the more chance of injuries or DOMS. This means if you haven't run in years/months/weeks expect your body to feel that stress. You have to give your body adequate time to rest and repair before you go again.
Mobility & stretching needs to be performed throughout your running journey. Static stretching, foam rolling and sports massages are just three ways you can help your body recover. The faster you can recover, the faster you can get out running again, so invest some time in perfecting this area.
I will be following this article up with a more in depth look at common injuries, injury prevention and mobility.
Keep It Fun!:
If it's not fun it won't last. You have to enjoy it! Find some good routes that you are comfortable with, staying local so there is no excuse about traveling to them. Put it in your diary like any other meeting, this will make you more likely to stick to it. A Running partner is always a bonus but don’t be discouraged if they let you down. Playlists, podcasts and audiobooks are a great help. Find what works for you that will help you keep your flow.
Finally, when it gets tough, remember to take a deep breath and get your head up. Look around, enjoy being outside, take in the views, the weather and everything else the world has to offer.
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