As the road running season is well and truly here I thought, why not shed some light on some helpful tips for all runners.
From setting achievable, yet challenging goals to a proper warm-up. These are all essential pieces of the puzzle and help aid in the enjoyment process of the running journey.
Setting realistic goals is essential to ensure a balanced and achievable training plan. It helps manage your expectations, prevents overtraining or injury, and allows for proper physical and mental preparation. It increases the likelihood of success and a positive marathon experience.
I’m motivated by pure racing. Other times, I’m inspired by PB's (personal best) goals. However, the longer you have been running, the more challenging and less frequent these happen. For the weekend park runner getting a PB most weekends, enjoy them, I’m jealous.
Here’s what I would do when running a speed session by myself.
A 20min or 5km warm-up jog followed by some running drills, some run-throughs and then my prescribed session. For example; 6 x 1km with 1 min walk/jog recovery. My cool down is anywhere between 2-6km, depending on the mileage target for the week. A run like this is often 20km + a 6km afternoon jog.
How to do a warm-up and why they are essential.
Warm-up: (10-20mins approx)
A warm-up jog is vital before a race or interval session because it prepares your body for the physical demands of your session. When you start running, your muscles need adequate blood flow and oxygen to function optimally. A warm-up jog helps increase your heart rate and circulation, delivering oxygen-rich blood to your muscles while activating your neuromuscular system, improving coordination and reaction time.
A warm-up mentally prepares you for the upcoming workout, helping you focus and get into the zone. Finally, a warm-up helps enhance performance, prevent injuries, and improve your running experience.
Drills: (takes around 5-10mins)
Running drills are essential before speed intervals because they help improve running form, efficiency, coordination, and neuromuscular activation. By practising specific movements and techniques, such as high knees or butt kicks, runners can enhance efficiency, stride mechanics, and power output, leading to better performance during speed intervals.
Some of my favourite drills are;
- A skip
- B skip
- Running with butt kicks
- Running with high knees
- Side skips
- Hamstring sweeps
- Legs swings for adductors
- Leg swings for hamstrings
- Box jumps
3-5 x50-100m strides (run at 75% race pace for the first few strides and build close to 120% race pace by the last rep, then jog/walk straight back very slowly)
A cool-down jog is essential because it helps gradually reduce heart rate, circulation, and body temperature after intense exercise. It aids in removing metabolic waste products, promotes muscle recovery, and prevents delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Additionally, it allows for a gradual transition back to a resting state, promoting overall cardiovascular health.
It's crucial during all training preparations, particularly for endurance events such as half, full and ultra-marathon training, as it provides the fuel necessary for performance, supports muscle recovery, and helps maintain overall health. Proper nutrition ensures adequate energy, hydration, and nutrient intake, which is crucial for endurance, stamina, and injury prevention during training and race day. Far too often these days, I often hear of athletes developing RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), which is a shame as we often lose these athletes to the sport.
What I usually eat in a day during peak training (4 weeks out from race day while running between 180-200km in a week):
2 eggs on toast with hummus, dukkah, and avocado. 1 strong cafe latte.
2 muesli bars. 1 banana or apple.
2 salad wraps with a can of tuna. Or leftovers from the night before.
4 squares, 70% chocolate, and 2 scotch finger biscuits.
2 bowls of veggie pasta with either some form of chicken, beef mince or vegetarian + some garlic bread and cheese.
4 squares, 70% chocolate and 2 scotch finger biscuits or something similar.
Race day fuelling:
When I’m gearing up for a goal marathon, I’m well practised in my race day fuelling, so know that I require approximately 6 gels between the start and 30km, which is around every 5km or 17 mins. At 35km, I often have flat coke and no gel. Then nothing at 40km. I have practised with all of these and do so many times throughout.
So get out there, stock up your gels or what suits your needs and practice, practice, practice. Do what feels right for you and keep it simple.
Stay tuned for more updates on structuring your training plan in future blogs.
Dion Finocchiaro. Founder of Evolve Run Club.