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
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.