Australian’s love a fun run, so it makes sense that come running season 2016, many of us will start turning to information to help us lift our game.
I have always somewhat enjoyed running, but it was only 2 years ago when the penny dropped and I just fell in love with it.
True, it is a game of mental endurance, but it is also something you can do anytime, anywhere. Furthermore, I find that is also gives me much needed time to either tune out or listen to a podcast, two things I don’t usually have enough time to fit into my day!
Here are my top tips to lift your running performance.
5 Tricks to Lift Your Running Game
1. Build up your kilometres gradually
So, you have decided to run a half marathon this year. You went out and bought new shoes and gear to look that part, and you set out to run 21km in your first training session just to see if you can last the distance.
Now you are cramping all over, you have blisters, you may have pulled a muscle or two but worst of all, you have been benched for the next few weeks and can no longer train.
One thing I always stress to clients is to not go too hard too soon. Just because you plan on running 21km does not mean that you need to do it in your first training session.
When training for an endurance event, give yourself a minimum 3-month lead-time so you can not only gradually build up you kilometres, but also focus on specific strength training in the gym to make you stronger. You also have to adopt some good recovery practices including nutrition, supplementation, massages and quality compression gear such as SKINS that help accelerate the recovery process so you don’t miss a training session due to aches and pains.
Pushing yourself too far to soon, particularly if your body is not ready for the amount of volume yet will just leave your more susceptible to injury.
2. Mix up your training
Beware of training on the same flat and easy ground because odds are that come race day the course may have various surfaces including hills, sand or stairs and you need to be prepared for that.
When planning out your running training, try to schedule in a day to practice hill sprints, sprint training (for overtaking people) and also schedule in a longer run day.
Start with 5kms on your first long run day if you are new to running and gradually build yourself up from there.
3. Don’t just run
Just because you have signed up to do a run doesn’t mean that you should only run in preparation for it
I truly believe that spending time in the weights room is very important for runners, particularly for building their lower body and core strength as well as balance/mobility.
For the lower body, some exercises that you should consider include front & back squats, normal/one legged dead lifts, kettle bell swings, lunges, step ups and box jumps.
If you are going to go to the effort to strength train for your running event, note that you should also be training your legs in a unilateral fashion, meaning one leg at a time as that’s exactly how running works. It will allow you to make those muscles stronger as well as picking up on any muscle imbalances and weaknesses.
You also want to ensure that you are strong through your torso and back as you don’t want to start hunching over mid run when you start to fatigue. Poor posture can lead to shorter strides, shallow breathing, lower back pain and tight hamstrings.
Achieving optimal mobility is crucial for a runner, because the better ‘running economy’ you have, the less energy you will use to run.
To achieve this, focus on your body being as nimble and relaxed as possible, making sure that your entire lower body and hip capsule isn’t too tight. It’s imperative that your range of movement isn’t restricted as that will lead to you expending more energy to move. It will also slow down your run and potentially cause injury.
Think of your body as a bank. Whatever you take out of it needs to be replenished or else you will end up being ‘broke’.
I cannot stress how important recovery is, because pushing yourself on a depleted balance can decrease your performance, potentially lead to injury or even worse, adrenal issues.
Some of my recovery techniques include:
- Spending time using a foam roller, trigger balls, micro bands and stretching bands to help roll out any tightness, build strength in smaller stability muscles and stretch it all out.
- If I have a big event coming up and I am running a lot of kms per week, I also see a sports physio. As well as helping you loosen tight spots, they can also identify where your weak points are.
- I also train in my SKINS compression tights to promote blood flow, support my muscles and boost the recovery process from the get go. I also sleep in them some nights if I am very sore. I rub the BioCeuticals magnesium cream onto my legs first, which adds to the effect even more.
- I try to do 2 yoga sessions per week, because for everything you take from your body, you need to give back to your body.
- As well as making sure my nutrition is squared away, the reality is that for the amount of exercise that I do there is no way that I could refuel on wholefoods alone. Everyone is different, but for me I add BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze and IsoWhey Sports BCAA’s into all of my smoothies and I also use several protein supplements.
About Andrew Pap
Andrew is an elite endurance athlete, SKINS Athlete and the owner and operator of Battle Fit Australia a progressive 10 week bootcamp program.