Training Guide For Running
Training at high intensities can place greater nutritional demands on the body. Fuelling your body to maximise energy metabolism, recovery and overall health is paramount to help you achieve best results.
A diet rich in a variety of plant foods providing healthy carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients is a great place to start.
Balancing the food groups:
Carbohydrates provide the most easily accessible form of energy for the body.
The best form of carbohydrates are those with a low GI and that exist naturally within nutrient dense foods, as opposed to “empty” sugars (e.g. refined sugar, cordial, lollies, soda etc.).
Nutrient dense carbohydrates include those from vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and low fat dairy. There are, however, special circumstances where rapidly absorbed simple sugars (e.g. those in sports drinks) are required to maintain energy during endurance events.
For an athlete, protein is most important for muscle repair and growth. If you’re aiming to enhance strength, power and muscle size, then you need higher intakes of protein. Elite endurance athletes also have a huge protein demand due to the muscle breakdown that can occur during such events.
Try to include “good” fats at every meal. These include olive oil, coconut oil, fish oils (fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are fantastic), avocado, nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts and pecans). Avoid fatty red meat and poultry and animal skins (e.g. chicken skin, pork crackle).
Consumed fibre acts as food for good bacteria in your gut, allowing them to survive and multiply. As they feed, these organisms release health-promoting chemicals, plus maintenance of their numbers keep the bad bacteria at controllable numbers. This prevents stomach upsets such as bloating, wind, diarrhoea/constipation etc.
Eating before training depends on the length of the training session
Training session 1 hour or less:
Small snack 1 hour before will help with the energy levels for the session – handful of raw nuts, seeds and dried fruit, banana, piece of toast.
Training session 1.5 hours or more:
30-60g of carbohydrates need to be consumed per hour.
- Race week nutrition
To increase your glycogen (stored carbohydrates) levels, carbohydrate intake should be slowly increased during the week before the event.
For every gram of glycogen, the body holds 3g of water so up to 2kg can be gained over this period, with the extra water being beneficial for race day too.
Increase your carbohydrate intake to 50% of your daily calories for days 5-7 before the race.
For days 1-3 increase carbohydrate intake by 70%.
- Race day nutrition
The goal is to replenish glycogen stores from the overnight fast with 1-2g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight, 2-3 hours before the start of the race if possible. But don’t sacrifice sleep to make this happen; instead have a light carbohydrate meal and compensate with other carbohydrates during the race.
General recommendations are to consume 600-800mL of fluid every hour, with 30-60g of glucose as well as electrolytes (10-20 mmol/L sodium (230-460mg), 3 mmol/L potassium (117mg)).
Race morning you need around 500mL with the pre-race meal and another 300mL 15-20 minutes before the race.
CREATING A PERFECT RUNNING PROGRAM
Running drills maximise efficiency during running, increase speed or pace and reduce the risk of many common running injuries. The drills should focus on posture/alignment, foot striking, stride recovery as well as muscle activation.
Stability and core
When running, we are only ever contacting the ground with one foot at a time. This means that your ankle, knee and hip stability play a significant role in stride efficiency and injury prevention.
Poor hip stability or gluteal function results in internal rotation of the femur (thigh bone), causing knees to point inwards and our arches to collapse (over pronation). These two errors in biomechanics result in an increase in stress on the muscles and ligaments around the knee and ankle.
In time, this leads to patellofemoral dysfunction (runners knee), plantar fasciitis, shin splints and increased chance of calf strains, to name a few. Additionally it will increase your contact time with the ground, resulting in a reduced running pace.
Gluteal strengthening, single leg exercises should be completed to stabilise your hips and knees.
Core strength and endurance is vital in counteracting the rotational force of running and posture maintenance during longer races. Rotational and counter rotational exercises should be performed to enhance running power and protect against injury.
Core stability, posture and foundation exercises are the building blocks of any strength and conditioning program from distance running to power lifting.
Muscular and cardiovascular performance
The best way to develop your running-specific muscular and cardiovascular endurance is through long, slow distance (LSD) training and tempo training.
For beginners, distance should be slowly built up with good technique at the foundation of the program and tempo runs kept short, where technique is likely to be compromised during fatigue.
LSD training is exactly what it sounds like; it’s all about building on your running distance with good technique to prepare you for distance events. The focus is on technique rather than pace.
Tempo training involves running at a pace slightly faster than the pace required to achieve your goal time; they are completed over a shorter distance than your race.
Race and speed development
The most effective way to increase your race pace (running pace) and beat your personal best is to implement interval and repetition training into your program.
Interval training involves completing high intensity intervals (>80% of maximal effort) with rest periods between each interval, usually with a work-to-rest ratio of less than 1:1. For example, 6 x 1km intervals with 3 minutes rest in between each interval.
Repetition training involves performing near maximal repetitions (>90% of maximal effort) with a work to rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, depending on the duration. For example, 15 x 200m sprints with 1 minute rest between each repetition.
Strength and power
Often completely neglected by runners, strength and power training significantly increases your maximal power output. The higher power you can potentially produce per stride, the lower the percentage of maximal power (effort) required per stride, thus improving running efficiency and speed.
All strength and power programs should begin with general conditioning exercises and then progress to more running specific power based exercises. A general conditioning exercise could be a body weight squat or lunge, while an advanced running specific exercise includes plyometric exercises and power lifting.
Tight hips flexors, hamstrings and calf complexes (to name a few) are the downfall of many runners. Not only will tightness lead to poor running posture, incorrect neuromuscular patterns and eventually injury, it will also slow you down.
A small amount of flexibility or mobility training should be incorporated into all sessions (in the warm up and cool down). Additionally, you should complete specific flexibility and active release sessions, i.e. stretching, foam rolling and massage ball release.
Use a combination of static and dynamic stretches to maximise flexibility as different muscles respond differently to different stretching techniques.
REST AND RECOVERY
Rest days allow your muscles and endocrine system to bounce back. Additionally every 4-6 weeks you should have a light week to allow your body to adapt/improve, or else you will keep fatiguing and actually start to see a decrement in your performance in training and racing (i.e. overtraining).
Recovery sessions are a great idea on the day following big training sessions or races. This can include pool/ocean swim or light walking and mobilisation (try wearing compression gear) and help increase blood flow to the areas without causing further fatigue, allowing you to get back to training harder sooner.
Post session acute recovery techniques should be completed after every session and include your cool down exercises, nutritional supplementation (protein, simple carbohydrates, hydration and electrolytes) and contrasting temperature showering/ice baths.
Tapering should be factored into your program. Depending on training load and the race distance, usually step back the training volume a week out from the race, performing a few speed sessions and short runs.
Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours sleep a night for maximal physical recovery.
5 TIPS TO PREVENT BURN OUT
1. Have your nutrition sorted
2. Gradually work towards your goal
3. Identify your weak areas and work on them!
5. The Essentials!