Back to school, back to the track. Autumn is the perfect time to take on new challenges after a restful summer. And whether it’s your first race or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s never a bad idea to make sure your training game is on point. We chatted to realbuzz.com Richmond RUNFEST Race Director, Tom Bedford, about his top training tips:
It may seem strange to start this list with rest, but if you don’t get this element of your training right then you will not make any progress. Only with rest will your body adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues, so it’s essential to listen to your body and take time off regularly.
2 Have a plan
Training without a plan can be demoralising. A plan will give you short-, medium- and long-term targets – and you can tick these off as you achieve them. Once you have your training plan, stick to it. Don’t be tempted to deviate from it just because you’re having a particularly good day. The plan will have been put together with all of the principles of training in mind, such as the need for progression.
3 Get into a routine
Build your training into your way of life, just like you go to work and have dinner when you get back. But you don’t want to run the same distance session all the time – if you do that then you won’t make any progress.
Read more: 8 tips to ensure marathon success
4 Don’t waver
Believe in yourself! There will be plenty of times when you doubt your ability to follow your plan and achieve your goals. Don’t lose sight of your Autumn race goal and keep at it. We all have bad days but don’t let them affect your overall programme.
5 The right fuel
Training regularly places additional demands on the body, and that includes nutritional demands. The food you eat when you are particularly active is of utmost importance. You need to fuel your body with a nutritious and balanced diet to provide it with all the essential nutrients it requires to enable you to perform at your best. This will in turn help you to get more out of your training programme. Additionally it will increase your energy levels and let you train harder and for longer.
Warming up, stretching and cooling down
Make sure you’re fully prepped for your training runs and stay injury free:
The aim of a warm-up is to prepare your body physically and mentally for the training ahead. And we are really not talking about long sessions here, so the ‘lack of time’ excuse is a poor one! A typical example of an adequate warm-up would be to start by gently mobilising the major joints of the body, then continue by walking for 60 to 90 seconds, building up the pace every ten seconds or so. When you start to get warm, you can then break into a gentle jog for half a mile, before stopping and going on to your stretching routine.
Although your stretches should include all your major muscle groups, you don’t need to embark on an extensive flexibility session when you’re training. Instead, find a suitable place to stop when you’re out running, and then begin by stretching the legs and back. After this, focus on the smaller muscle groups. Your muscles should always be stretched slowly and the stretches held for at least ten to 15 seconds. And remember: absolutely no bouncing is allowed (or recommended)! Bouncing is a common mistake, and doing it can pull or tear the muscle you’re trying to ease.
Cooling down is just as important as warming up and stretching. Once your running distance is complete, you should not come to a complete stop immediately, as this encourages the muscles to contract too quickly and could cause an injury. They should instead be eased down and stretched out gently. Correct form once your run is finished is to drop your speed down to a jog for 30 to 60 seconds before slowing down to a brisk walk, reducing the speed every ten seconds or so.
Finally, end your cool-down with a stretching session of all the major muscle groups before you get cold – but this time, stretches should be held for around 15 to 20 seconds. Longer stretches allow muscle tension to fall and the muscles can be stretched further when they have been in use – but remember, no bouncing!
There’s still time to register for the realbuzz.com Richmond RUNFEST (Saturday 15, Sunday 16 September 2018) – with a fortnight to go, why not sign up to the brand new Richmond 5k; The Pirate Run?