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Training for participation in a running race is a very complex activity. Most people incorrectly assume that because running is such a simple activity the training necessary to prepare for a race is straightforward and easy to understand. However, this is simply not the case. Training for a race of any distance can be a rather complicated process which typically involves base training, speed training, hill training, weight training and even visualization. A runner who has been running regularly can certainly enter a race and complete the race without a particularly complicated training routine, however, runners who want to do more than simply complete a race and are striving to place well in the race are much more likely to devise a significantly more complicated training program to assist them in achieving their goals. Training refers to the tool, or groups of tools, that the runner can use to optimize his performance on race day. Knowing how many miles to run, what pace to run at and, most importantly, when to rest during the training process will likely result in a successful and fulfilling race day. This article will examine a few basic training techniques and provide insight into why these techniques are effective and how they can help a runner to improve his performance.

A plan is necessary for a runner to train effectively. This means the runner cannot simply go out each day and decide what type of training he wants to do on a whim. These decisions should be made well ahead of time and incorporated into a comprehensive training program. A runner needs to identify the race or races that are most important and design his training program around these races. Personal goals should also be written down for each race as well as for training. When setting these goals it is important to keep them realistic and relatively easy to achieve. This will enable the runner to show progress and will provide him with the satisfaction of meeting those goals. The goals can be time based, or mileage based and should be easy to measure.

The most effective way to evaluate your progress during training in an effort to help you realize your goals is to maintain a training log. This log can document your distance, pace, heart rate, course or any other details that you want to keep track of on a daily basis. This information will be very useful during the training period because it will enable the runner to monitor his progress and make adjustments to his training program as needed. Keeping a training log will also allow the runner to note problems as they arise instead of not finding out about these problems until the day of the race.

Novice runners can train in many of the same ways as their more advanced counterparts; however, they need to realize there are some training guidelines which apply especially to them. One such guideline is these runners need to start out slowly and allow time for the body to adjust to the repetitive pounding of running. Running on grass or dirt trails for a portion of your run will help with the transition since it is easier on the joints. Your pace should allow you to be able to carry on a conversation. Increasing mileage or pace too fast can result in overtraining and injury so novice runners are advised to start out slowly and build mileage gradually as opposed to expecting to match the training efforts of more advanced runners immediately.

Once your body has adjusted to running it is time to establish a good base on which you will continue to build throughout the training program. This involves a lot of slow, long runs at a pace which is rather comfortable for the runner. A heart rate monitor is an excellent tool to use for monitoring effort and can provide more accurate feedback than simply relying on perceived level of exertion. Over time you will notice that you will be covering more distance at the same heart rate because your body is becoming more efficient and you are able to run at a quicker pace without overtaxing the body. However, runners are cautioned to resist the urge to go faster at this time because doing so will likely stunt the gains that they will enjoy on race day and can easily lead to overtraining injuries.

A few months before the race for which you are training it is time to start increasing the intensity of your runs but not the duration of your runs. By this point in your training you have established a solid base and are ready to begin working on improving your strength and your speed. In this phase of your training you will want to concentrate on form and leg speed. Tempo runs and long intervals should be introduced at this time to assist in this effort. Also during this phase of the training you should start to see improvements in sustained efforts and top end speed.

Finally, a few weeks prior to race day you will want to concentrate on speed drills and race pace efforts. It is unreasonable to expect to run 8 minute miles in a 10K road race if you have never been able to run an 8 minute mile in your training. The race pace efforts should feel easy compared to some of the tempo efforts that were run in the previous phase. This last phase will help to fine tune your training for a successful race day.


The video clip above is from my DVD about running stetches and other running related information. Click on the DVD case below to find out more.

Running Stretches and Running Tips

Click Here to view the DVD.

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