How to train and run your next personal best race.
Run better with these training tips. (Photo: yanlev / www.123rf.com)
The human body adapts to exercise so it’s important to introduce new or different levels of running stress to keep improving. Otherwise, it’s easy to hit a performance plateau, says Andrew Cheong, a certified running coach from Road Runners Clubs of America (RRCA). To keep your body challenged, he recommends making these changes to your training programme.
1. Three basic runs
Jazz up the conventional three-basic-runs training programme (a long slow run, a faster tempo run as well as running fast sets on a track with a short recovery time between each set) to keep the body challenged and also stay motivated.
– Long run Introduce some variety by changing the terrain (on trails or grass) or running on hills instead of flat ground.
– Tempo runs Replace these with fartlek runs. Fartlek, or speed play in Swedish, refers to runs where you alternate between going fast for a short period and then slowing down to recover. It is unstructured, which means you can set different targets as you go, such as speeding up when you pass a lamp post and slowing at the next bus stop.
– If you’re training in a group, try Indian Run drills: You and some friends run in a line. Begin with a slow run, but have the person at the back of the line sprint to the front every five minutes. When that runner reaches the front of the line, he then slows down to jogging pace. Five minutes later the next last runner sprints from back to front.
2. Four elements of training
Incorporate these four elements into your training programme, tweaking it according to your current level of fitness and race target time.
– Increase frequency of training For instance, from two runs a week to three
– Lengthen the run duration Distance, time or both
– Raise the intensity Run faster
– Shorten the recovery time between run intervals
3. Exercise five times
While the best way to improve is to run, you need to devote time to other exercises too. Aim to exercise at least five times a week, of which three days are spent on running, and two on cross-training. See the best exercises and best cross-training activities for runners.
An experienced runner, Andrew Cheong has taken part in more than 30 endurance races locally and overseas, including the Boston Marathon and various Ironman races.