Running in the 21st Century (Part 1)

Well we’re right in the thick of it now. If you look out your office window you’ll probably spot a trail of fluoro clad, Pheidippides-inspired heroes, grinding a path in their quest to top last year’s personal best… Yes it is running season, with plenty of people gearing up for this year’s City to Surf on August 10, as well as a plethora of other events.

Many people have probably already begun their training and with less than six weeks til race day, preparations should be starting to ramp up. It’s also about this time that we will start to see a substantial increase in the number of running-related injuries appearing at our clinics.

The first priority of entering any race is to finish – -and there are a number of key steps that can help get you there! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting together a series of running-related blogs to help overcome common problems encountered during training, starting today with the most fundamental part of all, the training programme.

THE KEY TO SUCCESS

An appropriate training programme is the cornerstone of any successful race preparation. It needs to consider your personal goals, the nature of the upcoming event, previous sport/running history, as well as being appropriate for your home and work demands. Having a training programme organised ahead of time allows you to plan in accordance with the rest of your life and reduces the chance of missing sessions. With all these factors considered, it should also reduce the risk of overtraining leading to significant overuse injuries that can derail your race.

WHERE DO I START?

Luckily in this information-rich age, with most people carrying the equivalent of a 1960s super computer in their back pocket, there are plenty of available resources to help you in your planning.

A few examples:

  • The official City 2 Surf website  hosts several well-structured 10-week training programmes for varying abilities. If you have already started running, but are looking to find a template to lead you into race day, this could be a good place to start. (http://www.city2surf.com.au)
  • Hal Higdon is a well-known American writer and runner, who has compiled a comprehensive range of training programmes for various abilities and over a range of time frames. (http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51121/10K-Training-Guide)
  • Map My Run is a fantastic resource where runners plot their favourite routes and then share them online. It is useful if you are looking for a specific run distance, are new to an area/ visiting temporarily, or simply looking for greater training variety. (http://www.mapmyrun.com/training-plans/)
  • Various mobile running apps exist to help track your training; two of the best include Run Keeper and Nike Running. Nike’s app also has a built in coach feature, which will generate a training programme based on your race, ability and training time frame.
  • The Running Company in Pott’s Point, as well as providing expert advice and assessment on a wide range of running-specific shoes, also organises running groups on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Check out their website or Facebook page for more details

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

The most important part of any programme is rest. A training programme would typically include 3-5 sessions/week, depending on your ability and previous training history. If you are planning your own programme, use common sense – you wouldn’t schedule two long runs on consecutive days, but might instead follow a long run with a rest day, or some light cross training in the form of other aerobic activity. With running training, variety can also come in the form of shorter speed interval sessions, which can be interspersed 1-2x/week amongst longer “steady state” distance runs. Rest also comes in the form of adequate sleep – -so during a training period you should be aiming for at least 6-7 hours of uninterrupted rest per night.

BE REALISTIC

If you currently work more than 40 hours per week, then head home to two under 10s, then running 4-5 x per week after work is probably neither practical nor sensible! It may make more sense in this case to schedule 2-3 runs either pre work or during lunch breaks, as well as a longer session on weekends, so that the rest of your life doesn’t have to suffer!

That should get you started. Next week we’ll be starting to breakdown common factors leading to injury, as well as managing common injuries encountered with running training.

GOOD LUCK!!