There are many ways to train for a marathon, half marathon, 15k, 10k etc. Our training program utilizes methods which can not only train a person to race efficiently at a specific distance, but at all distances.
Ideally, there will be a strong relationship between race times at shorter and longer distances. E.g. there is a strong relationship between your 5k and your 10k and your half marathon time.
There are many calculators on the net that can help you find that type of relationship and tell you how fast you should run your half marathon based on your 5k time for example.
However, for many runners, their 10k-time is worse than what their 5k-time suggests. And their half marathon-time is even worse than what their 10k-time, let alone their 5k-time suggests. Their race times deteriorate as distance grows.
There are two main reasons for that:
1. Runners are not doing enough mileage,
2. The mileage they do, is done too fast.
The key to being good at long-distance running is a high lactate threshold. Your lactate threshold is the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in your legs. Go faster than your lactate threshold pace and within minutes you start feeling uncomfortable. Your legs start feeling heavier and heavier. In the end you just have to slow down or stop. When you do training specifically to increase your lactate threshold, then your “easy, comfortable” running becomes faster and faster over time.
Deep inside your muscles lurk a multitude of microscopic structures called mitochondria. Although small (they can’t be seen with an ordinary microscope), the mitochondria are of major importance to your athletic efforts; as you increase their density, your performance capacity rises simultaneously. That’s because the mitochondria are the only places inside your muscle cells where carbohydrate, fat, and protein can be broken down in the presence of oxygen to create the energy you need to exercise. To put it simply, the more mitochondria you have, the more energy you can generate during exercise and the faster and longer you can run. The more mitochondria, the less lactate at every running pace. But mitochondrial adaptation in each fiber type is very dependent on the intensity of your training.
So, what is the correct training intensity?
Surprisingly, you can get the best results by doing just aerobic training.
So the key to improving your lactate threshold lies in training below your lactate threshold pace. Some sessions may be close to lactate threshold pace, but it needs to be stressed that your training should be slow, rather than fast.
The old saying “No pain, no gain”, ironically enough does not work!
In addition to this, a general increase in mileage would be good. When applied consistently over time, racing performance will improve significantly. This is what we call base building. Over time, lactate threshold will increase and it will become easier to run faster. Once this important step is accomplished, we can further improve race times by doing some speed work and conditioning work in the last few weeks of training.
Purpose: Build aerobic endurance by changing your muscle fiber density, develop long term energy systems, building powerful cardiovascular and pulmonary engines, and strengthening your connective tissues.
Technique: Start with a short, gradual warm up for the first mile or so. After warming up, keep the pace relatively easy where you can comfortably carry on a conversation.
Purpose: Increase fitness by running in a pre-fatigued state. This workout generally follows a longer, more intense workout.
Technique: Start with a short, gradual warm up for about 10 minutes. After warming up, keep the pace relatively slow. If you feel like you are not gaining any benefit by running this pace, you are at the right speed. There is no such thing as too slow.
Purpose: Improve neuromuscular coordination
Technique: Towards the end of an easy run, add 2-8 short, fast pick-ups of around 100 meters. This is generally 15-30 seconds in time. From an easy pace, accelerate smoothly to 85-90% effort, then hold at this level, focusing on good form. Return to an easy pace and wait for a full recovery before beginning another. Strides can also be used after a 10-20 minute warm-up before a race or other speedwork.
Example: 60 min easy + 6 strides
Purpose: Build strength and endurance, improve running form
Technique: Start at the base of a longer, moderately steep hill, run up @ an easy to moderate pace similar to long run or slightly faster for 1-3 minutes. Recover back down hill at an easy pace and repeat.
Example: 8 x ¼ mile hill
Hill Springing and Bounding
Purpose: Through the use of plyometric exercise, build muscular strength
Technique: Start at the base of a longer, moderately steep hill, run up @ an easy to moderate pace similar to long run for ½ the length of the incline. For the remainder of the hill, Spring (up) or Bound (out) while only using enough forward momentum to keep you going. The pace will slow down, but that is normal.
Fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”):
Purpose: Increase aerobic capacity
Technique: Over the duration of a workout, run varying intervals of a faster running from 30 seconds to 3 minutes and easy paced running of similar Faster paced running to be at VO2max pace or slightly slower. Easy pace should be slow enough to provide adequate recovery.
Example: 15 min warm up, 6 x 3:00 @ VO2 Pace with 3:00 recovery, 15 min cool down
½ Mile & Mile Repeats (or Intervals):
Purpose Increase aerobic capacity
Technique: After a 1-2 mile warm up, run segments of ½ mile or 1 mile at VO2max pace or slightly slower. In between each of these segments, recover for up to the duration of the faster segment.
Example: 6 x Mile @ VO2 Pace with 4:00 recovery
Purpose: Become accustomed to running at increasing levels of fatigue
Technique: Over the duration of a timed run, gradually increase pace 15-30 seconds per mile or can be broken up by segments such as thirds where each segment is a minute or so faster than the previous. Final mile(s) of progression runs should be in the tempo pace range or slightly slower.
Example: 60min Progression Run
Purpose: Increase lactate/ventilatory threshold
Technique: Over the duration of a timed run, include 1-2 segments of up to 20 minutes at Threshold pace or slightly slower with 5 minutes or more of recovery between segments. Tempo runs can also be done in interval form similar to repeats above except done at Threshold pace and with about half the amount of recovery.
Example: 2 x 15min @ Tpace – 5 min recovery between
Purpose: Increase efficiency of running at goal race pace
Technique: Run at an easy pace, then at race pace for the designated amount of time, generally 2-6 miles in distance. This may also be included during a long run or as 1 or 2 mile repeats to practice running at race pace with fatigue.
Example: 90 min with 4 mi @ Race Pace
Before each workout, the training program director and assistant directors will review weather conditions at the running site(s). If an impending weather situation is apparent, a determination will be made whether to delay or cancel the workout based on current and forecast information provided by the National Weather Service and/or observations made at the running site(s). Once a determination has been made, any cancellations or delays will be communicated through Facebook and/or announced at the running site(s). Although each situation will be considered on a case by case basis, the following constitutes the minimum criteria that will be used to delay or postpone the workout:
Thunderstorms / Precipitation
The workout will be cancelled or delayed at least 30 minutes if lightning is visible and the flash to bang time is less than 30 seconds.
The workout will be cancelled if a thunderstorm warning is in effect that includes the running area and lightning strikes have been detected in the area or in an approaching system.
The workout will be cancelled if a significant flooding is present along the running course and runners can not be rerouted around it.
The workout will be cancelled if a significant amount of ice is present on the running course and traction is deemed unsafe.
The workout will be cancelled if a significant amount of snow is present on the running course or on the roads runners would travel to the course and traction is deemed unsafe.
Tornado or Wind Events
The workout will be cancelled if a tornado warning is in effect that includes the running area.
The workout will be cancelled if debris is flying or falling along the running course.
The workout will be cancelled if the heat index is above 105.
The workout will be cancelled if the windchill factor is below -15.
Etiquette & Safety Policies
Mutli-use & Single-track Trail Running Tips
Over the last two decades there has been significant growth of the multi-use trail system. The Road Runners Club of America takes this opportunity to share these important safety tips when training on the growing number of multi-use trails around the country. These safety tips, coupled with the RRCA General Running Safety Tips should help keep you and everyone else on the multi-use trail safe.
Follow the rules of the road – travel on the right and pass on the left.
Don’t run down the middle of the trail. Run to the right side to allow others to pass safely.
Don’t wear headphones—but if you insist on going against this RRCA safety guideline, keep the volume low or only wear one headphone.
If you are running an out-and-back route on a trail, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. Stop, step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. If you are wearing headphones, now is a good time to pop out an earphone to make sure no one is approaching. Ensure the trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn. Making a sudden u-turn without looking over your shoulder is a good way to get hit by an oncoming cyclist or skater.
Avoid running on trails in the evening if they are not well lit and do not have regular traffic.
Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a trail hog. While pedestrians have the right of way on most trails, the goal is to share the trails.
Alert people when you are passing them—don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
Be alert on blind curves.
Stop at stop signs if the trail crosses a roadway. Don’t assume cars on the road will stop for the trail crossing.
Be mindful of young children on the trail—their movements can be unpredictable. Slowing the pace a bit when you pass small children on the trail is a wise idea. Use this as an opportunity to slow the pace then pick up the tempo.
Respect private property along the trail.
Don’t litter. If you can’t find a trash can, carry your trash home.
Get approval from local authorities before planning a race or training event on your local multi-use trail.
Single Track Trail Tips
American Trail Running Association Rules on the Run
“Rules on the Run” are principles of trail running etiquette that foster environmentally-sound and socially-responsible trail running. These principles emulate the well-established principles of Leave No Trace , and Rules of the Trail by the IMBA. The American Trail Running Association (ATRA)*, believes that by educating trail runners to observe “Rules on the Run,” trail runners will be able to enjoy continued access to their favorite trails and trail running competitions.
1. Stay on Trail
Well marked trails already exist; they are not made on the day you head out for a run, i.e., making your o wn off-trail path. There is nothing cool about running off trail, bushwhacking over and under trees, or cutting switchbacks up the side of a hill or mountain. Such running creates new trails, encourages others to follow in your footsteps (creating unmarked “social trails”), and increases the runner’s footprint on the environment. When multiple trails exist, run on the one that is the most worn. Stay off closed trails and obey all posted regulations.
2. Run Over Obstacles
Run single file in the middle of a trail, even when laden with a fresh blanket of snow or muddy. Go through puddles and not around them. Running around mud, rocks, or downed tree limbs widens trails, impacts vegetation, and causes further and unnecessary erosion. Use caution when going over obstacles, but challenge yourself by staying in the middle of the trail. If the terrain is exceedingly muddy, refrain from running on the trails so that you don’t create damaging “potholes” in the surface. Moisture is the chief factor that determines how traffic (from any user group) affects a trail. For some soil types, a 100-pound runner can wreak havoc on a trail surface in extremely wet conditions. In dry conditions the same trail might easily withstand a 1,200 -pound horse/rider combination. There are many situational factors to consider when making your trail running decision. Trails that have been constructed with rock work, or those with soils that drain quickly, may hold up to wet conditions—even a downpour. But, in general, if the trail is wet enough to become muddy and hold puddles ALL user groups should avoid it until the moisture has drained.
3. Run Only on Officially Designated Open Trails
Respect trail and road closures and avoid trespassing on private land. Get permission first to enter and run on private land. Obtain permits or authorization that may be required for some wilderness areas and managed trail systems. Leave gates as you’ve found them. If you open a gate, be sure to close it behind you. Make sure the trails you run on are officially designated routes, not user created routes. When in doubt, ask the land managing agency or individuals responsible for the area you are using.
4. Respect Animals
Do not disturb or harass wildlife or livestock. Animals scared by your sudden approach may be dangerous. Give them plenty of room to adjust to you. Avoid trails that cross known wildlife havens during sensitive times such as nesting or mating. When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders. Running cattle is a serious offense. Consider turning around and going another direction when faced with disturbing large herds of animals, especially in winter when animals are highly stressed already.
5. Keep Your Dog on a Leash
Unless otherwise posted, keep your dog on a leash and under control at all times. Dogs running off leash may result in adverse impacts on terrain and wildlife and degrade the outdoor experience of other trail users. If an area is posted “no dogs” obey signage. This may mean that you leave your dog at home. It is also imperative that you exercise Leave No Trace practices with respect to removing any dog waste, packing out what your dog may leave on the trail. Be prepared with a plastic bag and carry the waste until you come across a proper disposal receptacle.
6. Don’t Startle Other Trail Users
A quick moving trail runner, especially one who seemingly emerges from out of nowhere on an unsuspecting trail user, can be quite alarming. Give a courte ous and audible announcement well in advance of your presence and intention to pass hikers on the trail stating something like, “On your left,” or “Trail” as you approach the trail users. Keep in mind your announcement doesn’t work well for those who are wearing headphones and blasting music. Show respect when passing, by slowing down or stopping if necessary to prevent accidental contact. Be ready to yield to all other trail users (bikers, hikers, horses) even if you have the posted right of way. Uphill runners yield to downhill runners in most situations.
7. Be Friendly
The next step after not startling someone is letting them know that they have a friend on the trail. Friendly communication is the key when trail users are yielding to one another. A “Thank you” is fitting when others on the trail yield to you. A courteous, “Hello, how are you?” shows kindness which is particularly welcome.
8. Don’t Litter
Pack out at least as much as you pack in. Gel wrappers with their little torn-off tops, and old water bottles don’t have a place on the trail. Consider wearing apparel with pockets that zip or a hydration pack that has a place to secure litter you find on the trail. Learn and u se minimum impact techniques to dispose of human waste.
9. Run in Small Groups
Split larger groups into smaller groups. Larger groups can be very intimidating to hikers and have a greater environmental impact on trails. Most trail systems, parks, and wilderness areas have limits on group size. Familiarize yourself with t he controlling policy and honor it.
Know the area you plan to run in and let at least one other person know where you are planning to run and when you expect to return. Run with a buddy if possible. Take a map with you in unfamiliar areas. Be prepared for the weather and conditions prevailing when you start your run and plan for the worst, given the likely duration of your run. Carry plenty of water, electrolyte replacement drink, or snacks for longer runs. Rescue efforts can be treacherous in remote areas . ATRA does not advise the use of headphones or iPods. The wearer typically hears nothing around them to include approaching wildlife, and other humans. The most important safety aspect is to know and respect your limits. Report unusually dangerous, unsafe, or damaging conditions and activities to the proper authorities.
11. Leave What You Find
Leave natural or historic objects as you find them, this includes wildflowers and native grasses. Removing or collecting trail markers is serious vandalism that puts others at risk.
12. Giving Back
Volunteer, support, & encourage others to participate in trail maintenance days
Injury Prevention for Distance Runners – 7 Most Common Injuries Explained
Whenever runners are gathered together, they talk about injuries; injuries they have had, injuries they have got now, injuries that explain the absence of mutual friends.
So if runners are always injured, running must be bad for you, right? Wrong. Running is good for you. However, runners often push themselves near to their limits, which mean that, although they are in generally better shape than couch potatoes, they get more injuries than they would if they spent their day watching TV. Because runners are stubborn, and sometimes a little obsessed, they often don’t do what they should to avoid injuries, and they don’t treat them properly when they occur.
Runners often suffer from injuries which can be loosely grouped together as “overuse” injuries – that is, which are not caused by an external force or accident, but which appear to be the result of many miles and hours of running. As we shall see in this chapter, many of these injuries are caused by (often minor) biomechanical imbalances and defects which, when combined with running, lead to stresses on joints, muscles and other tissues. The cure for these injuries is very rarely found by addressing the symptoms: instead it is necessary to identify the underlying problem which leads to the problem.
The problem is not that we run too much; it is the opposite. Because so many of us have sedentary lifestyles, including long hours sitting in chairs, we develop weaknesses and imbalances which then cause problems when we run. So the underlying cause of overuse injuries is generally not running (though it is running that triggers the symptoms), but the deterioration in the strength and flexibility in our bodies which prevent us from running efficiently and without pain. Fortunately, many of these problems are easy to fix, if you get the right advice and tackle the underlying the causes rather than the symptoms. Sadly, all too few doctors know how to do this.
There are seven main overuse injuries which affect runners.
1. Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee is the usual description for pain just below the kneecap. The pain occurs at first during running, and gradually gets worse. Walking up or down stairs, and squatting, cause pain. Sitting with the knee bent for a long time – such as in the cinema – also causes discomfort. These symptoms are the result of bruising near the bottom of the kneecap, which may be caused by incorrect tracking of the kneecap as you run.
Runner’s knee is usually caused by over-pronation, often combined with inappropriate running shoes or excessive increases in training load. Because of the different alignment of the pelvis and legs, runner’s knee is more common in women than men.
Runner’s knee is often misdiagnosed by non-running doctors as chondromalacia patella, which is a deterioration of the cartilage in the knee joint, or as damage to the back of the knee-cap. If your doctor or physiologist says that you have damaged cartilage, you should get a second opinion from an experienced sports doctor.
Once correctly diagnosed, runner’s knee can be corrected by fixing the causes of the biomechanical problems that caused it. Studies have shown that up to 80% of runners with this condition can be cured by the use of orthotics.[i]
2. Iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome
It is common for runners to experience severe pain on the outside of the knee joint, which becomes worse as you run. The pain often stops as soon as you stop running. The iliotibial band is a band of tissue that runs from the hip, down the outside of the thigh, past the knee, and connects to the lower leg. It helps to keep the knee joint stable.
ITB friction syndrome occurs when the band becomes irritated as it rubs over a bony prominence near the knee (technically called the lateral epicondyle of the femur) which it passes over as you bend your leg at the knee. ITB friction syndrome is often caused by excessive ankle pronation, but there are other possible causes, including tightness of the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) muscle, or unequal leg length which tilts the pelvis. It can be exacerbated by increasing training too rapidly, running downhill or on heavily cambered roads.
The symptoms are alleviated by stretching the ITB band, ice and deep friction massage. Treatment may require a reduction in training mileage and intensity, or complete rest while the underlying causes are addressed.
3. Achilles tendonitis
The Achilles tendon runs down the back of your heel, connecting the calf muscles to the heel. Achilles tendonitis begins as an inflammation of this tendon; but if left untreated it can develop into a rupture of the tendon. In its early stages, the symptoms are stiffness behind the ankle when you first get out of bed in the morning. The symptoms often disappear while you are running.
Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by excessively tight calf muscles, over-pronation, wearing high heels, worn out shoes and overtraining. The symptoms can be relieved with ice after each run; but reduction in training or complete rest may be needed while the causes are addressed. It is generally advisable to avoid hills and speed work while you have Achilles tendonitis.
4. Shin splints
All too often, any pain in the lower leg is lazily described as “shin splints”. The term is correctly used to describe medial tibial stress syndrome, which is an irritation of the muscles and tendons at the point where they attach to the shin bone.
Shin splints cause pain along the inner border of the shin, about 5-10 cm above the ankle. At first, the pain may be felt at the beginning of a run; sometimes it recedes as the workout continues, and then recurs afterwards; in other cases it is only felt at the end of the run. In the early stages, the pain usually disappears after several minutes’ rest. As the injury gets worse, the pain becomes more severe, sharper, and more persistent, until eventually it becomes difficult to walk normally.
This injury is quite common in new runners (often within their first three months of running) who have increased their training load too rapidly, or who are using inappropriate running shoes. It can also be caused by uncorrected ankle pronation.
Treatment at first includes regular ice, together with reduced mileage or rest. Addressing the causes is likely to include ensuring that shoes have adequate cushioning and stability, and building up training mileage slowly.
5. Stress fractures
Stress fractures are hairline fractures of bones in the lower leg, usually the tibia, fibula or a bone in the foot (e.g. a metatarsal), though they can also occur in the thigh bone and pelvis. Stress fractures generally become painful very rapidly, and they can be identified by exquisite, highly localised pain under gentle pressure.
Stress fractures are usually caused by excessive increases in training or low bone density, possibly related to poor diet. They are more common in females than in males, and women with irregular menstrual cycles are especially at risk (see Chapter 4).
This injury heals itself with 2-3 months of complete rest.
6. Muscle tears
These are extremely common injuries among runners. Muscle tears can occur suddenly – most commonly in explosive sports such as sprinting or football – or accumulate slowly over time. The hamstrings, groin and calf muscles are most at risk from muscle tears.
Sudden muscle tears are easy to diagnose: the runner suddenly feels severe pain in the affected muscle, which goes into spasm and swells up. The muscle cannot be used at all. Sudden muscle tears are caused by muscular imbalances, and exercising while insufficiently warmed up. The symptoms should be treated immediately with ice and elevation, and the application of a firm compression bandage immediately after icing. With intensive treatment an athlete can return to running in as little as a fortnight; though recovery generally takes a bit longer for non-elite athletes.
With gradual muscle tears, or “muscle knots”, by contrast, the pain comes on gradually. At first, symptoms are noticeable after exercise, and they are mild enough to continue training. Over time the pain becomes worse and eventually prevents running altogether. To identify a muscle tear for certain, a doctor or physio should press the affected muscle with two fingers: they will feel a small knot in the muscle, which, when pressed, causes excruciating pain to the runner.
Gradual muscle tears will not go away without the correct treatment, which is cross-friction massage by a physiotherapist. (Good luck: this hurts). Gradual muscle tears tend to recur in the same places. Runners need to be especially careful to stretch those muscles, especially before speed workouts and when it is cold. At the first sign of the symptoms returning, you should get more massage.
7. Plantar fasciitis
This injury manifests itself as pain directly in front of the heel, which can radiate down the arch or up the back of the heel. The pain is often worse when you first get out of bed. It generally hurts at the start of a run, but goes away when you are warmed up.
Plantar fasciitis is the result of stress and inflammation of the fibrous tissue in the bottom of the foot, called the plantar fasciia. It is usually caused by overpronation, or poor flexibility in the calves or hamstrings. It is also more common in people who are overweight.
Initially, treatment is aimed at stretching the tight plantar fascia and calf muscles, cushioning the heel, and decreasing inflammation with ice or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Sources: Gross, M.L., Davlin, L.B., Evanski, P.M. (1991) “Effectiveness of orthotic shoe inserts in the long distance runner.” American Journal of Sports Medicine 19, 409-412.
Nutrition for Runner – What to eat before, during, and after your runs
Knowing about nutrition and eating right is an important, if not the most important, part of running. The old saying is true: “You are what you eat.” What you eat can have a dramatic effect on your running performance, so it is very worthwhile to devote some thought to what you put into your body when you are expecting it to perform well. By sticking to a well balanced diet of quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, you allow yourself to train to your full potential and can expect to perform well. Conversely, throwing down a diet filled with potato chips, candy bars, and “Beer-Ritas” can leave you destined for disappointment on Race Day. In a busy world, full of obligations, sometimes being an athlete, means extra planning and a heavy dose of discipline. Getting the right nutrients to fuel your workouts can be challenging, especially if you have dietary restrictions (due to diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) or even if you are vegetarian or vegan. Here is a guide to help you navigate through your nutrition needs.
Before Your Run
Before heading out for your run, whether it’s a daily routine or a group training session, you must remember that the best fuel for your muscles is carbohydrate. Luckily, carbs come in may shapes and forms, many of which are specifically designed for physical exercise. There are hundreds of energy bars, drinks, gels and other easily digestible, non-heavy foods and drinks out there for you to consume, ensuring your body remains light whilst your muscles feed, preventing you from depleting your energy stores too quickly.
If you’re looking to eat a proper meal before your run then the foods that are high in carbohydrates are pastas, fruits, breads, potatoes and rice to name a few.
How much you consume before your workout depends largely on how intense and how long your run will be. If you’re extremely lean and muscly and you train like a professional athlete then your carbohydrate needs will be higher than someone who is out of shape and simply going for a run to get back into shape.
The carbohydrates you consume before your run are stored in your muscles as glycogen in the days leading up to exercise. Fully filling your glycogen stores takes a lot of time, and, crucially, this process is largely affected by what you eat after exercise.
Remember that digestion takes anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, meaning you shouldn’t eat or drink anything that isn’t easily digestible immediately before you exercise. The food you consume will only be useful when it’s been absorbed by your body, and if it’s still sitting in your stomach you’ll find your run to be uncomfortable, possibly causing you to feel nauseous or develop cramps.
During Your Run
Similarly, to sustain your performance during exercise and delay the feeling of exhaustion that many refer to as ‘hitting the wall’ you need to consume carbohydrates. This is because carbs make the body produce more insulin (blood sugar), and this in turn reduces the amount of cortisol that your body creates. Cortisol causes your body to break down proteins much faster than normal, ultimately breaking down muscle to generate fuel for your body. This is what makes you tired and what makes your workout far less effective – after all, you need strong, functioning muscles to perform at your best!
Generally you should be consuming 30-75g of cabs per hour to ensure you’re achieving peak performance. Also, to maximize carb absorption by the body, it’s a good idea to combine the types of foods that you eat. For instance a carb that is rapidly oxidized, when combined with a carb that is slowly oxidized, creates a faster carb absorption process in the gut. This means you should try to combine glucose with fructose for instance.
Aside from carbohydrate, it’s also recommended to consume protein. This is because muscle is generally always broken down during exercise for one reason or another, be it physical forces such as high-impact running, or the eventual release of cortisol within the body. When consuming a carbohydrate PLUS as protein drink or food, the destruction of muscle tissue is far less than when consuming carbs alone.
Generally drinks are the best to consume when running, as solid food takes longer to digest and can make you feel too full, leading to cramps or stomach upsets. If you wish to snack though then the best foods are fresh fruits, dried fruits or whole grains, as well as energy bars or protein bars available on sale at your local supermarkets or health food stores.
After Your Run
If you’re looking to build muscle, lose fat or simply ensure maximum capacity performance when you next exercise then it’s crucial for you to take your post-workout meal seriously.
To put it simply, aside from water (which you need at every stage of the day) you should be consuming protein and carbs. You should NOT be going anywhere near fat. That’s not because fat is bad for you – it’s because fat slows down digestion, and that means it will slow down your body’s absorption of proteins and carbs, both of which are crucial after a workout!
You should eat your post workout meal as soon as you can, and ideally within 30 minutes of ceasing to exercise. If 30 minutes is impossible then try to get it into your body within one hour.
Although chicken, fish, eggs and other meats are all good, healthy forms of protein, the protein you should be consuming after a workout is in liquid form. This is because it’s easily digestible and quickly consumed, meaning it gets into your body and therefore affects your muscles faster than anything else. Whey protein in particular is the fastest digesting form of protein in existence, so try to get yourself a whey protein shake and take it with you when you exercise.
It’s recommended that you consume 0.15-0.25 grams of protein per pound (lb) of your body weight. So, if you’re 175lbs then you’d be looking to consume 26-43g of protein. If you’re seeking to lose weight then you should use your target body weight as your guideline – not your current body weight!
After protein, the next important thing to consume is carbs as they restire muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout. The faster digesting carbs are best, unlike throughout the rest of the day, and this means foods like bread (which have a high glycemic index). Ideally though, you want the carbs to absorb super fast, and this is where dextrose can become extremely useful.
Although dextrose is, simply put, sugar, it is perfect for a post-workout meal as it absorbs extremely quickly and doesn’t weigh you down or make you feel full like bread does. Once again you should be aiming to consume 0.25 – 0.4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, unless you’re overweight in which case, use your target body weight as you did with the protein supplements.
The best thing about your post-workout ‘meal’ is that it can be combined as powder in a shaker and then, after you exercise, you can simply add some water and consume it on the spot, ensuring that your muscles repair properly and you can perform at full capacity next time
To a runner, cross training means doing exercise other than running, such as cycling, swimming or working out in the gym. The best exercise to improve your running performance is running; but other exercises can play an important part in your training program.
Why do cross training?
All exercise will increase or maintain your fitness and provide other physical benefits, but because the body’s adaptation to exercise is quite specific, running is the most efficient way to exercise to improve your running performance.
Swimming is an excellent low impact way to improve fitness
Nonetheless, cross training can play an important role in your training programs. The main advantages of doing other forms of exercise are that they increase your overall levels of fitness without adding to the repetitive stress of running. Some exercise, such as swimming and dance, can also improve your flexibility, and offset some of the tightness caused by running. Cross training can also help to prevent injuries, by reducing the extent of muscle imbalance, and by replacing running with non-weight bearing activities, eliminating some of the impact on the ground.
Many runners switch to cycling or swimming if they have an injury which stops them from running as a way to keep fit, and in pursuit of the endorphin-fuelled “buzz” of exercise which they would otherwise miss.
There is a rule of thumb that runners may find useful when thinking about cross training. Swimming one mile is roughly “equivalent” (in terms of energy expenditure and benefits to fitness) to four miles of running; and four miles of running are in turn roughly equivalent to sixteen miles of cycling.
Cross training: weight training
One particular form of cross training merits particular mention: working out in the gym. Bruce Fordyce, the legendary winner of the Comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa, attributes his success in part to his regular gym workouts.
Weight training can increase the strength and stability of the upper body, which in turn improves running efficiency. It also builds lean muscle, which increases the metabolic rate, reducing your fat, and enhances the body’s ability to store glycogen.
However, weight training which increases your muscles size increases your weight, which is a handicap for long distance runners. If you are a seriously competitive runner for whom additional weight is likely to influence your performance, you should use weights in a way that increase your strength and muscle tone but not muscle bulk (i.e. do lots of repetitions with light weights). You don’t need to be a member of a gym to do effective strength exercises for your upper or lower body. There are lots of exercises you can do at home, without any special equipment, such as press ups, sit ups, leg raises and knee bends.
Source: Owen Borden, Running for Fitness
Dr. Dave's Do-Do Rule
Performance Page: Dr. Dave’s Do-Do Rule
Adequate recovery may be the missing element to your training
Dr. David Martin is one of my favorite people in our sport (see the October 2007 issue of Running Times for a profile on Dr. Martin). While he could just sit in his lab and do his own thing, that’s not his style. Instead, he takes an active role in helping athletes succeed. He’s credited with helping U.S. marathoners optimally prepare for the unusually hot and humid conditions at the Athens Olympics, and the results were a silver and bronze medal.
One of the things I like most is his quick wit and unique way of encapsulating key training ideas in short “Dr. Dave-isms.” One of my favorite Dr. Dave-isms is his Do-Do Rule. It goes like this:
“It’s not how much training you DO, rather, it’s how well you recover from the training you DO DO. Because, if you get injured or sick from DOing too much, you are in deep DOO DOO.” Dr. Dave says, “Th e Do-Do Rule covers a multitude of sins for the runner and has never been proven wrong.”
Is more better?
The first “sin” that the Do-Do Rule addresses is the idea that more training is always better training. According to Dr. Dave, “More training isn’t necessarily better. Doing the correct training is the answer to improved performance, not just more training. How much training is appropriate for you, of course, is the art of coaching and training for success in long distance races.” Clues to correct training are everywhere though. Are you seeing performance improvements from training phase to training phase? Do you feel energized and excited for your next key workout? Do you feel like you could handle a little more volume and intensity? If so, you are likely training correctly.
Conversely, are you stuck at a performance plateau? Do you continually have injury problems or find yourself getting sick frequently? Are you simply unable to maintain a consistent training routine? If so, you may be in need of a training overhaul. It’s ironic, though, that in these situations of overtraining, the tendency is to want to do more to improve your running, but you may simply need to do less.
The rut and the grave
Another Dr. Dave-ism goes, “The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.” This, too, is a lesson from the Do-Do Rule. Martin believes, “Just establishing a routine or a habit of running is not the important thing. The important concept is that your training has a purpose and that you aren’t just running out of habit but are actually working to become a better runner.” For many runners, this suggests the need for more variety in training. Just as the measure of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, you must also vary your training to get different results. Find a pattern that works for you, but always add in some new workouts or training stress every few weeks. And, of course, add in extra recovery for the new stress.
Dr. Dave’s DO-DO rule is simple and effective. Follow it this spring and summer for better training and racing results.
Following on the heels of more isn’t always better, another lesson that the Do-Do Rule teaches us is that your training stress and your recovery must be in balance. “Training involves breakdown, and recovery must be appropriate to rebuild after this breakdown. Therefore, your recovery and training must match up, otherwise you’ll be on your way to overtraining and soon find yourself in deep doo doo. It is important to realize that there is not a bottomless pit for training. You must allow sufficient recovery in order to maximize your performance improvement and avoid injury or illness from overtraining,” Martin says.
Adequate recovery comes in several forms. The first is simply spacing your hard workouts properly across your training week. Don’t try to squeeze everything in when your body is telling you that you need more recovery. In springtime, it’s easy to want to put in two speed workouts each week along with a long run. After all, races are coming up and you want to be ready.
For many adult runners, however, you are better off just doing one intense session and allowing more recovery. Many masters runners find that this leads to better quality workouts …which leads to more confidence …which leads to better racing. And, remember, races are the most specific training we can do for other races later in the season.
Recovery can also be in the form of good nutrition and hydration. Take advantage of the window of opportunity within the first two hours post-workout. In this time, the body is super prepared to refuel and rehydrate. Have a healthy shake or snack that puts protein and carbs back into your system and drink in the vital fluids lost in the workout.
Lastly, know that recovery needs change not just based on how much training you do, but also based on how much “life” you do. If work or family or other obligations suddenly get more stressful, you may have to increase your recovery time between workouts and reduce your training intensity.
Top 3 clues to spring overtraining:
01 Short fuse, moodiness and lack of motivation
02 Increased resting heart rate (>5 beats per minute)
03 Racing performances that fall short of what training results would predict
Running Tips & Drills
Running Tips, Drills, & Videos
The following videos are visual examples of tips and drills that can help you with your running. This information is for general purposes only. If you have any questions regarding form, frequency, etc., please ask one of our coaches or a certified person trainer. As always, the Dallas Running Club insists that you confer with your physician before beginning this or any other exercise program.