How to take your running to the next level
It’s easy to reach a rhythm when we run but, if you crave a challenge, there are ways to level-up your pavement pounding and keep your body guessing…
More of us are running than ever before. [Strava’s Year of Data report recorded running as by far 2020’s most popular exercise, along with cycling.] The sense of freedom, need for personal challenge and an easy-access alternative to the gym have encouraged heaps of us to take to the streets. But it’s easy to get into a rhythm when it comes to running and where there’s comfort – there are rarely results. Here F45 trainer Rachael Penrose shares how we can transform our time pounding the pavement into workout gold.
Change your pace when it comes to a challenge
There are a number of ways to structure a running schedule, keep pushing yourself, see results and stay motivated. You could increase the amount of miles you cover every week, reduce your time or, if you want to change up your running style, add interval training or hill sprints.
Also, look to incorporate HIIT into your workout routine. A strength or power-based HIIT session complements running perfectly and it’s great for your body to swap a high-impact run for a lower impact HIIT session.
My essential advice is to plan in advance. Take the time to sit down and decide where you will start and how you will progress over four weeks, then reassess and plan again. If you need help, either with making a start or taking your training further, I would advise reaching out to a PT who can help you to programme a personalised training schedule.
Prioritise progressive overload if you want to see results
Running is great for body and mind. Once we get in the groove of going for a run, it can be quite easy to plateau and in turn, lose motivation. The key here, as with any form of training is to use progressive overload. Progressive overload is the technique whereby you gradually increase your training through adding weight, reps or time. For example, you might focus on how long it takes you to complete a mile. Using a system like this you can constantly set yourself goals and avoid becoming stuck in a rut.
Up the ante with audio
If you’re working on progressive overload, any form of extra stress and strain on the body will increase your training. For example, if you do three 5km runs with a weighted vest on for two weeks, then drop the vest and increase the distance to 7km, it will seem like an easy feat because you’ve progressively overloaded what your body is accustomed to taking on. If you want to increase power without the need to buy any fancy equipment, I recommend hill sprints which can help you to run further and faster.
Alternatively, if you struggle with motivation and need an extra push, tune in to audio fitness to help you stay focused until the final mile. Andy Cannon is a PT with great audioruns available. Strava is good if you have a competitive side and want to be part of a community, with friends or other members. You can set group challenges to boost your motivation.
Tailor your training schedule entirely to you
Whether you strive for distance or aim to shave minutes off your time, it is a personal decision which depends on your individual goals. A beginner who is setting out on one of their first runs could, for example, focus on completing 5k for the first two weeks. After that, they can see how their body is adapting and increase from there. As with any training, first you’ll discover what your base level of fitness is and then you can decide how to overload your muscles.
When it comes to resting, the key is to listen to your body. At the start of the new year, in particular, we tend to have great expectations of working out every day but this isn’t always the best approach. In general, a longer run or a heavy or intense HIIT interval training session will require more rest than a standard plod along the pavement, as will have put your body under greater stress. However, this all depends on you as an individual and how your body is conditioned. If you don’t know how to plan your running schedule, contact a PT or someone who’s qualified to assist you.
Running is not the end of gains
The stereotypical look of a long-distance runner is generally lean because running creates lean muscle, so it’s easy for this appearance to be misconstrued as muscle loss. If you’re worried about losing the appearance of your muscles but want to throw yourself into running, I would focus on shorter sessions and running for time rather than distance.
I also recommend looking to hill sprints and running intervals which help to develop power. In turn, keep up your weekly strength training and potentially adjust your cardio sessions and switch one or two out for a run instead.
Fuel-up for the road ahead
Personally, when I take off on a run I won’t eat for at least two hours beforehand. This is purely because bouncing up and down after having food isn’t the most pleasant feeling and can lead to feeling heavy and lethargic. However, if you’re planning a long run or you are interval training then you’ll need fuel in your body so that you have energy to burn. I’m a big advocate for a pre-workout banana and if you eat it 30 minutes before you hit the road, you’ll give it time to settle.
Post-run, your body has burned a considerable amount of energy so it’s important to refuel it correctly. Ensure you have a nutritious meal that contains carbs, proteins and fats to restore your glycogen levels. Think of yourself as a fancy sports car - you wouldn’t put used, substandard petrol in it, would you? So think twice before you reach for the fast food post-run.
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The views expressed on these pages are the views of the cited experts only and do not necessarily represent the views of Wellness Edit. Please always get a second opinion where specific medical advice is required.
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