As always, the Golden Rule in achieving anything is to set a goal. We have all heard about the S.M.A.R.T acronym and your run goals should be exactly that. Whether it is to reach the finish line, to set a new PB or to improve your health, knowing your goal is always step Number 1.
Think about your last ambitious pursuit and perhaps why it failed? If it was through a lack of planning, don’t let that be the downfall of your running. This will help keep you on track for the weeks, months and years (yes, it may take years) it will take to reach your run goal.
Tip: Write it down… NOW!
2. Before you run, you must stand:
Unlike the other multisport disciplines, running is a high impact sport and the repercussions of poor biomechanics and physical instabilities can be harsh. Before you discuss your next injury with the Physio, have a think about how prepared you are to be running…
Can you stand up straight? Can you stand on one leg? Can you do it with your eyes closed? And, can you activate (squeeze) one glute at a time? These are some fundamental elements of running and if you can’t do them right, you’re an injury waiting to happen!
The value of some basic activation exercises and a healthy obsession for good posture will go a long way to keeping you on the road. The ability to train consistently will trump any killer workout or racing flat on the market.
Tip: Take the time to do this properly and know that it’s not an added extra, it’s an essential!
3. Be Mindful:
It’s always pleasing when one of my athletes finishes an interval and can explain where they were slipping away. Of course we wish they never slipped away, but the fact that they understood what was happening under pressure tells me they were paying attention.
Mental application is pivotal to making improvements on the run and you should be constantly reviewing your form. Create a short and simple checklist that you can scroll through in your mind to assess things such as posture, arm carriage and breathing. If you can identify what makes running faster hard, you will be far more likely to improve.
Tip: Rather than spend time strapping on the iPod, leave the music at home and Tune In, rather than Tune Out on your next run!
4. What’s the Plan:
The hardest part of a run session can be choosing what you’re going to do. If you decide to get out the door and make it up as you go, you’ve already made your first mistake. Before long, you’re back on the same loop, running the same pace… This default session will limit your progression and you will soon become one-dimensional, which rarely seems to works on race day.
If the plan is to do hills, do hills. If the plan is to do speed work, do speed work. And most importantly for us triathletes, if the plan is to do thirty minutes EASY, DO thirty minutes EASY!
A well-balanced plan will see you challenged, but never discouraged before the workout. The goal should be to run better, not to post a picture of your session on instagram… Therefore, have a plan and do it right.
Tip: Don’t be persuaded, be prepared!
5. Cadence Counts:
We all know about the value of cadence on the bike, but how many of you are aware of your cadence on the run? It’s easy to calculate run cadence by counting your steps as you go. The best way to do this is by counting your steps on one side and doubling it to give your total steps per minute. Many elite runners will sit at or above 180 steps per minute (or 90 steps on the one side). On your next run, test your cadence and then see what 180 feels like! Pretty fast I bet…
The intention is to reduce contact time with the ground and make your movement more efficient. This can be difficult to do without changing your technique all together, so be careful to avoid the hot-step shuffle! Increasing your cadence will help you develop as a runner and it’s also a nice way to break up a longer run. So rather than always measuring your fitness by pace/km, have a think about your ability to hold cadence through the session.
Tip: Start your count from zero!
(Professional Triathlete | Triathlon Coach | i4 Director)
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