Whether you’re a novice or an experienced runner, there are five things you should know when training for an event. These tips will help improve your performance so that you stay a happy and healthy runner.
Running is a sport of adaptation.
When you run, you stress your joints, muscles and aerobic system. Between workouts, your body recovers and adapts to the load applied during your run so that it will be better prepared for your next run. This adaptation results in a boost in your fitness in the form of faster times, better running efficiency and increased endurance.
Sounds simple, right? Run, recover, run again, get fitter. Not completely. There are lots of variables that go into recovery—such as sleep, stress, nutrition and post-run activities—that differ greatly from one runner to the next.
Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you recover from each run before you attempt your next. This may require more time between runs (or workouts).
- There are three main variables used to quantify your running. Keep in mind the acronym F.I.T. Each letter stands for one of the three aspects of training that vary from workout to workout and from week to week: “F”requency (how often you run), “I”ntensity (how hard of an effort each run is) and “T”otal Mileage (how far you run).
In general, you should change your running by only one of these variables at a time. Want to add some speedwork next week?
Then run the same number of days that you usually run and run the same distance each time, but turn one of your runs into a speedwork session.
- You should be conservative with increases to your weekly training. A good rule of thumb is to never increase the three F.I.T. variables by more than a total of 10 percent per week. For example, if your current weekly mileage totals 25 miles then the following week should be no more than 27.5 miles (25 miles + 2.5 miles).
The 10 percent rule is extremely important. The most common cause of injuries is that runners increase their training too much, in a way that is too quick for the body to adapt.
Runners who exceed the 10 percent rule often find themselves in one of two categories: overtrained or injured. Following this rule will enable you to increase your mileage, improve your results and stay healthy.
- Easy running days are just as important as speedwork. As you become fitter, it is important to avoid the urge to make every run a hard effort. Including easy days on your running schedule is imperative to recovering from workouts, improving your running economy and maintaining your aerobic fitness.
Easy run days flush out your muscles from the previous day’s workout without furthering your fatigue.
Going for an easy run the day after a hard effort also teaches you to recruit the muscles involved in your stride more efficiently. Most importantly, these runs are where your aerobic base—the cornerstone of any distance runner—maintains itself.
Easy runs encourage your body to maintain a large inventory of mitochondria, the powerhouse of your cells.
- It’s left, right, left, right, one foot after the other. In this day and age, there is a ton of data available to provide feedback on our training progress. Many runners have found themselves so over consumed by these number that they start to overthink their running.
As they say in the business world, Keep It Simple Stupid. This may be the most important of these points.
It’s so easy to get focused on all the available feedback that you lose track of why you began running in the first place, which may lead to burnout.
The beauty of running is the simplicity of it: All you need is a pair of shoes and your imagination to get fit, create amazing memories and have fun.