1) Warm up and warm down properly – too often the warm down is ignored – follow the warm down with some static stretching – stretching is a vital part of training and helps keep muscles supple and to help you avoid injuries
2) Think Pace – take note of the pace required for the session, sometimes tempo, sometimes VO2 and sometimes faster ( much faster in the track season )
3) Don’t dip in and out of sessions – this will hinder your improvement, better to do 80/90% of the session at the correct pace and stop rather than miss chunks out
4) Ensure you do a long run each week – normally done on a Sunday
5) Recovery runs – after your hard sessions your run next day should be slow and relaxed – that will help the body recover – don’t do a tempo the day after a hard track session
6) Eating before training – find out what food works for you and when you are best eating before a training session – you don’t want the session hindered by stomach cramps – also remember to take on your carbo / protein after your session – the first 20 minutes after a session are vital
7) Speed – always think about speed – in the winter we finish sessions with some fast stride outs – always do some stride outs after your runs – hill sessions are particularly good for improving speed
8) Sleep – ensure you are getting adequate sleep , at least 8 hours and if you can squeeze in a late afternoon nap then that will help you recover
9) Try to do as much of your training off road as possible, the track at Knights Grange is ideal for training, our sessions in the forest are also on tracks and trails. Obviously good to get some running on grass – please avoid the roads as much as possible
10) Core stability – we are always urging you to do core stability ( in the summer we do some core after the Sunday run – but too many of you ignore it ) and some upper body strength training – you need strong core to help avoid injuries and upper body strength is needed when your legs start to tire
11) Running style – you should think about your running style, too many athletes bring their arms across their bodies – running is all about going forward, arm action should be forward too. Listen to your feet hitting the ground, the quieter it is the better, heavy running means too much energy is going into the ground and not helping you move forward, remember your leg should hit the ground under your body – roll on the ball of your foot and do not over stride !
12) Set yourself targets – during the cross country season this might be making your area team or your County team and for the track might be improving your times – on the track you should be prepared to race under and over distance to learn your event
Hopefully some of these will make you think, if you adopt some of these you might improve slightly, just think a 1% improvement over 1500 metres can be something like 2 – 3 secs – so if you can see a few things in this list that you are not doing you might squeeze another 2 or 3% in addition to your normal progression !
There are a number of problems for runners, which can put strain on the body, cause injury and reduce speed :-
Lateral Hip movement – this is caused by weakness in the lower back, glutes and abdominals – these can all be overcome by doing core stability exercises, also interlock hands on head, keep hips and shoulders relaxed and level – do some easy jogging – helps hip movement and arms coming across chest.
Knee – the inwards roll of the knee causes damage to the medial knee ligaments – this can be corrected by strengthening the quads and increasing flexibility in the hamstrings and adductors
Lordosis – over extension in the lower back results in a duck like posture – can be corrected by stretching the hip flexors and hamstrings
Upper body in a crouched over posture – might result in pain in upper back and neck – can be corrected by strengthening the upper back and mobility through shoulders and chest – keep upper body relaxed – can be helped by keeping angle of your elbows at right angles – also try raising shoulders to your ears during a run and then taking back to the relaxed position.
Flutter kicks – this puts extra strain on hip, knee and lower back – need to strengthen the glutes and the hips, also flexibility in the illotibial bands in the thighs
Some pointers to a better running style :-
Faster, shorter strides are better than slow, long ones – the optimal position is about 180 foot strkes per minute – listen to your feet, the more time your foot is on the ground the more energy you use for your next stride.
Try not to bounce
Land softly on your feet, you should land on the ball of your foot and this should be below your hips ( centre of gravity )
The heel will now be behind your body
Pick heel off the ground using your buttock muscles ( glutes ) to pull the leg through and then the hamstrings to pick up the heel
Bring your heel on your trailing leg up to knee level
As indicated above, the hips should not be moving sideways, back should be straight, and the shoulders relaxed