A Simple Blueprint for Effective Running
TrainingFrom Super Dave -
Rules of Running
You've probably figured out by now that running
isn't like other sports. For one thing there aren't a lot of rules to follow.
There are no "out-of-bounds" or "offsides" or "celebrating too much after
finishing." But since it's human nature to want at least a few rules, runners
have made some up! These "Four Rules of Running" should become the foundation
of your running program. They will ensure your continued enjoyment and
improvement as a runner and help keep things fun and interesting as well.
program should consist of a combination of training stresses followed by
recovery. In other words, "hard" one day, then "easy" for a day or two. Then
hard again. This "hard/easy" approach allows you to continually improve your
fitness level-and stay motivated. "Hard" doesn't mean that you're sucking wind
at the end of your run. Maybe it's just a run where you increase the distance
or speed slightly. "Easy" can mean a day off or a shorter, slower run that
allows your body to refresh itself. Using this method from workout-to-workout,
week-to-week and even month-to-month, will help you avoid the beginning
runner's #1 Mistake: Doing too much too soon. It'll be easier to get out the
door when you're not sore or tired all the time.
- To improve their free
throw shooting, basketball players practice shooting free throws, not jumpers
from the top of the key. The same principle goes for runners. Your body
improves at what it practices. If you wanna be a better runner, you gotta run.
Adding other workouts like cycling or swimming is a great way to maintain or
improve your overall fitness level, but putting one foot in front of the other
is the only way to continually get better at running.
- The body adapts pretty
quickly to a consistent routine. Without stress, there's no stimulus. When that
happens, your fitness level plateaus, your motivation weakens and you stop
improving. To avoid this, you should vary your training from day-to-day. Use
different types of workouts. Vary the amount of training. Emphasize different
types of runs for a period of time such as a month.
- Sure, you'd
like to be fit and fast tomorrow. But it just doesn't work that way. Doing too
much too soon is the highway to burn-out or injury. Instead, think like the
tortoise, not the hare. Take it slow. Increase your training gradually. What's
the rush, anyway? Be in it for the long haul.
fitness improves and you start moving along at a good pace, you'll find
yourself wanting more and more. More distance, more speed. Don't make the
mistake of doing too much too soon. If you run too fast for too long without
recovery, your body will break down. Instead, increase your running by no more
than 10-15% per week. And every 3 to 6 weeks, take a "rest" week and reduce
your mileage a bit. By keeping this simple check on your enthusiasm, you'll
stay healthy and steadily improve for weeks, months and years.
Long runs are easy runs that test your endurance
boundaries. They are performed at a "conversational" pace, meaning that you can
talk and run at the same time. They can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as
3 hours. It just depends on your ability level and time! While building your
long runs, feel free to take short walking breaks. Time on your feet is what's
important, not pace. Heart rate target zone is less than or equal to 75% of
workouts are steady runs that will help you feel strong as you go long. These
runs are "moderately hard," and slightly faster than conversational pace. A
good stamina workout might involve alternating periods of running strong for
4-8 minutes with periods of jogging for 1-3 minutes, for a total of up to 30
minutes. Heart rate target zone is 80-85% of maximum.
Hill workouts are repeated
strong, fast runs up a gradual hill. Your pace is the same as in stamina
workouts, but the effort is more difficult due to the incline. Your effort
level is hard to very hard. For starters, run up the hill for 45-60 seconds-
once, twice...up to 8 times. Jogging back down the hill to the starting point
serves as the recovery. Heart rate target zone is 90-95% of maximum.
Stride workouts help bring
your fitness to a peak. They are short, faster runs that are performed once
you've developed your endurance (long runs), stamina and power (hill workouts).
They're fast and fun. Try alternating periods of fast running (not all-out,
though) for 1-4 minutes with periods of jogging for 1-4 minutes, for a total of
up to 15 minutes. Heart rate target zone is 90-95% of maximum. Stride workouts
are not for beginners. Only attempt them once you've developed your endurance
with long runs, your stamina with stamina workouts and power with hill
jogs are slow runs performed in between faster running efforts. For example,
you might perform 1-minute recovery jogs between fast runs of 3 minutes. During
this 1-minute run, you would slow down to a very slow jog, maybe even a walk.
The goal is to let the body "catch its breath." Your breathing rate and heart
rate will decrease, and your leg muscles will revive themselves a little in
preparation for the next fast run.
Never go into a workout "cold." You'll
shock your body (muscles in a resting state aren't very pliable) and increase
the risk of injury. Instead, warm up with light jogging and stretching. This
increases the blood flow to the working muscles. Begin your 10-minute warm-up
with some light stretching followed by very slow jogging. Gradually increase
the pace to your normal running speed. A thorough warm-up is required for all
runs, especially before workouts like long runs, stamina, speed and hill
workouts, as well as road race events.
Mirroring the warm-up, the cool-down is a
period of light jogging and stretching designed to protect the body from the
shock of a sudden stop. It gradually returns the body to its resting condition
(slow heart rate and relaxed breathing). It's a great opportunity to work on
your flexibility by spending a few minutes stretching those leg muscles.
Workouts are sometimes
described in what looks like some complicated physics equation. Here's the key
to breaking the code.
Stamina Workout: 4 x 3 min w/1-min easy jog.
This means, after your
warm-up of 5-10 minutes, you run for 3 minutes at your stamina effort
(moderately hard). Then you slow to a jog for 1 minute to let the body recover
from the faster running. After the minute, you begin another 3 minutes at your
stamina pace. You repeat this combination of faster running and slower running
for the number of times listed, in this case 4. You then cool-down for 5-10
minutes. In total you have a 36-minute run: 10-minute warm-up, 12-minute
workout (4 x 3), plus recovery jogs totaling 4 minutes, and a 10 minute
cool-down. If you were supposed to run for 40 minutes, then just add 2 minutes
to both your warm-up and cool-down.
By using a heart rate monitor, you'll actually be able to train less and
benefit more. Before attempting heart rate training, you'll need to get the
okay from your doctor for a maximum stress. Training is more effective when
it's done at the proper heart rate.
First, get permission from your
doctor to run a maximum-effort test. Next, buy or borrow a heart rate monitor.
Then head for the nearest oval running track. Warm up for 10-15 minutes. Then
run a mile (4 laps), going all-out during the final laps. As soon as you
finish, note the highest reading on your monitor.
The four building blocks of peak
- endurance training
- stamina training
- stride training
- peak fitness training
During the first 5 weeks, you'll concentrate on
improving your endurance. Endurance, how long you can run comfortably, is the
foundation of any runner's program. During this phase, you'll gradually
increase the length of your longest run. Your heart and lungs will become
stronger and more efficient at delivering the oxygen and fuel required by your
muscles. A good rule of thumb is to increase your long run each week by about
5-10 minutes. By the end of 5 weeks, you could add 20 minutes or more to the
length of your long run! Piece of cake, huh? You'll notice that at the end of
the phase (the fifth week), the lengths of your workouts will decrease. That's
because of the first rule of running. (Remember Rule #1? Stress + rest =
progress!) You'll follow the hard/easy approach on a monthly, as well as a
Make sure your muscles are limber so you'll be ready to
perform your workout safely. Your training session should be preceded by an
easy 10-15 minute warm-up followed by several minutes of light stretching.
Don't forget that warm-up and cool-down distances should be calculated as part
of that day's total running time.
In the Stamina Phase, you'll move your attention away
from strengthening the heart and lungs to developing the muscles in the legs
and rear, just the places you'd like to see a little more toned-up! Because
you'll be focusing on a new type of training, your total running for the first
week of this phase will drop slightly (around 10%). This will give your body
time to adapt. You'll also continue the stamina workouts started in the
Endurance Phase. For hill training, any hill (or part of one) will do. Find one
that's away from traffic and has a nice gradual slope with no major obstacles.
Your runs will last from 45 seconds to a minute. You don't have to sprint, but
try to increase your effort slightly above your normal training pace. Start by
warming up, then tackle the hill 2 or 3 times. Recover by jogging back down to
your starting position. As your fitness level improves, gradually add more
runs. Remember Rule # 2: If you want to be better at running up hills, then run
some hills. After this month of training, you'll welcome hills instead of
Find a quiet dirt, grass or paved hill that is at least
100 to 200 meters long, with a moderate to steep slope. Move up the hill by
springing powerfully off the balls of your feet and your toes. Use an
exaggerated high knee lift and equally strong ankle drive and arm swing. The
key is not how fast you get up the hill but how strongly you push off and how
well you maintain your form. Rest briefly at the top of the hill by walking for
about 30 seconds until you are somewhat recovered. Then jog lightly and slowly
back down the hill. Rest for about 5 to 10 seconds and run up with crisp form
again. Finish with a 10-15 minute cool-down.
Now, this is not all-out sprinting-at least, not
at first. It's gradually increasing your pace for small portions of some
workouts to help your body get a little more efficient and faster (your legs,
stomach and even your arms will also get stronger). As in the Endurance Phase
and Stamina Phase, you'll gradually increase the duration of the workouts. This
will provide jolts of variety and motivation, along with improved fitness.
Great golfers and baseball players have the unique ability to blend total
concentration with total relaxation. Great runners are no different. Stamina
runs are designed to help you learn to relax, while holding your concentration,
for long periods while running at a somewhat challenging pace.
In this phase you'll "top
off the tank," and have some fun while you're at it. With your stride training
increased and everything else reduced, you'll feel like a kid, and zoom around
like one. As in the Stride Phase, you'll run fast for a short while, then rest
until recovered, then do it again. You'll boost your fitness level and burn
tons of calories. The workouts are intense, but loads of fun. They'll leave you
pleasantly exhausted. At the end of this phase, you'll reach a peak in your
fitness level. So why not take the time to participate in a local running
event? Your legs will be fresh from the reduced training load and the faster
workouts. And, you'll enjoy the satisfaction of reflecting on all the great
training you've done over the last several weeks.
Contrary to popular belief, a huge carbohydrate-rich meal the night before a
race isn't the only nutritional requirement for peak performance. Throughout
the entire peak phase, remember to eat a mix of simple and complex
carbohydrates, as well as protein and fats in moderation. Ideally, your diet
should consist of about 50-70%carbohydrates, 10-20% proteins and 20-30% fats.
Stay hydrated every day, drinking one ounce of water for every two pounds you