The days are getting longer and the running layers are becoming fewer! Those who have hit the ground running through the winter months and kept the training alive, give yourself a pat on the back! For those who are returning to the streets from winter hibernation and toeing the start line of the First Half and Sun Run, welcome back! Here are some tips and tricks for sprucing up your training plan, completing your races, and smashing your PR goals! As I know personally, runners are notorious for “too much, too soon” and we can all be a little too strict when it comes to following our training plans.
Adaptation is key.
With age comes wisdom; with mileage comes adaptation. Our bodies tolerate slow but steady increases and exposure to training load – whether that is more hills, increased speed, or a change in shoes or running terrain. Consistency is key! Giving yourself lots of time to train in preparation for an upcoming race allows for training adaptation. Start by creating a consistent base of 4+ training weeks, then start ramping up the mileage or hills or speed.
Listen to your body.
Muscle soreness after a longer or harder run can be expected, but pay attention to those little aches and pains that persist or are present any time during your warm-up, run, or cool-down. Listen to those messages from your body and be open to switching to a lighter run (in intensity and duration), taking a day off, or choosing a low-impact activity, like cycling. Consider following up with a health care professional earlier rather than later to keep injuries at bay and training going smoothly.
Keep it fun; play with cadence.
Running and injury prevention is always a hot topic in the research world and there are a lot of invested individuals trying to find the solution. From both the minimalist shoe and gait gurus alike, running within an optimal cadence range is one of the common themes in potentially reducing the impacts associated with injury. The sweet spot is 170-190 bpm. Start by counting your steps (# of foot strikes) in a 15-second period and multiplying by 4 (or 30-second period and multiplying by 2) to see where you naturally fall. If you try to adjust your cadence to within the ideal range, what happens? Does your foot strike pattern change? Do your feet hit the ground a little quieter? Have fun and experiment!
Be flexible, not just in your muscle tissues.
This connects back to listening to your body and respecting when you wake up and are not in the optimal state to run a long run or have a nagging muscle soreness that might flare with a speed workout. For all of those out there who like to “stick to the plan,” I totally get it, but being flexible can keep training more fun and prevent injuries.
Don’t underestimate sleep or fuel.
When it comes to training for fitness or a big event, recovery is just as important as the training itself. Muscles need time off from being under load to recover and build strength to prepare for the next bout of exercise. The nutrients you give your body are being used as energy for exercise, just like a car needs gas to run. Think of your body like a Ferrari and give it the quality fuel it needs, especially if you are asking your body to perform big athletic feats like running your first 5K, 10K, half, or full marathon race of the season.
A creative training plan keeps me mentally engaged and makes training enjoyable; I can’t simply run the same roads at the same time every day. Think about how you can mix new routes into your weekly schedule: What about running home from an appointment? Ending your run at the grocery store and walking home with your groceries? Doing an A to B run and ending at a coffee shop to meet a friend for a visit? Picking a common meeting spot to join up with a training partner or run to a local run club meeting spot? The greater the variety of routes and mental challenges you can give your body, the more resilient you will become and the less bored you’ll be with your training plan.
Those who run together, stick together.
Shout out to the East Van Run Club for making Monday nights so enjoyable! A local running group can be an excellent network for maintaining accountability, meeting training partners, and developing long-lasting friendships. It also creates an opportunity to get in some extra miles, with the option of running to and/or from the club and having a team of smiling faces to join you for rest!
I feel very fortunate to have developed personal injury prevention strategies as well as learn from incredible colleagues at Treloar and community educators including The Running Clinic 1.0 Course and The Great Running Shoe Debate. I know that I will be referring to this top 7 list as I enter my final training month before my Boston Marathon debut on Monday, April 20th, 2020! Keep an eye out for me on the big screen and in the clinic offering Running Assessments starting in April 2020. I’m always up to chat about training, running shoes, or exercise nutrition tips! Here at Team Treloar, we hope to get you #backinthegame and keep you on the roads, trails, track, and fields! Happy running!