The concept of running seems fairly easy. Just throw on a pair of sneakers and place one foot in front of the other.
But, the truth is it’s not always that simple.
We live in a world where people want instant results. However, when it comes to running, you should take a long-term approach.
Running is all about the stride.
Virgin Active run coach, Rachel Simpson, says it’s important to 'maintain strides that are nice and long, until you start hitting the hills or stairs, when strong, short strides come into play - as well as being light on the balls of your feet.'
Foot placement has evolved along with the ever-evolving footwear industry. Although many insist you should hit the ground mid-foot and accelerate from heel to toe, studies now reveal this is largely dependent on your footwear (or lack of it), speed travelled (imagine sprinting heel first!), as well as your personal form.
Advice from a coach is the best way to determine the best placement for you.
You should always start and end every run with a warm-up and cool-down walk or jog. Whether you’re training for a marathon, or simply running for pleasure, recovery stretching, mobility work and foam rolling all play an essential part. Worked into a training schedule - these are probably the most important days of the week.
The purpose of stretching is to lengthen the muscles, and some form of stretching should happen after every session.
Stretching could involve static stretching (holding a stretch), passive (where someone helps you), or dynamic (controlled movements such as lunges, squats, leg lifts). These types of mobility exercises work your ROM (range of movement) through the muscle.
Foam rolling really digs deep into the muscle and increases circulation in the unpleasant spots. Rachel recommends getting into the Calves, Achilles, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, and the front of your shoulders (Anterior Deltoids).
If you’re training for a running event, you should ultimately try to mimic the event in your training. For longer races, however, this would mean training at your goal pace for shorter intervals, rather than the event distance.
RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) is used during exercise to monitor the intensity of the exercise and workout. This is scaled from 0 to 10; 0 being no effort whatsoever, to 10 being maximum effort.
Try to treat running like any other sport. Alternating your RPE and increasing your volume of training over time is crucial for improvement. You don’t need to be exhausted after every run. Too many fast workouts without recovery runs at an easy to moderate pace won’t support progression.
Strength is also your friend! Running drills alternated with functional strength training will enhance your running efficiency and overall performance. Try weight training, Pilates, cross-training, or resistance training.
A coach will help you set you a balanced, progressive training plan. Stick to it! And remember rest days are good days.
As the official fitness partner of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay, our job is to get you race ready. And race ready means being able to run 1-mile (approx. 1.6km) as fast as you can. Find out more about the event and download your free training plan here.Rachel Simpson is a Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Pitt Street. Rachel specialises in running, sports specific conditioning, toning and endurance training.