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Happy Running: A toolkit

The beauty of running is that you don't need any kit and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

Many people couldn't live without it but regardless of whether you're an experienced runner or a relative newbie, there are a few things to pay attention to that will enhance your progress and enjoyment.

Things to remember when you run

  • Think about your running posture

  • Stabilise your mid-section by activating your core stability muscles

  • Keep your shoulders back and relaxed

  • Breathe deeply

  • Lift your knees

  • Use your arms to drive your lower body movement

Common running issues

If you are suffering any pain from running, the first thing to do is check that you have the correct running shoes for your style of movement. Visit a reputable running store and have them look at your running and then recommend the right footwear.

If you still experience pain or discomfort when running, seek advice from a physiotherapist, podiatrist, chiropractor or osteopath, depending on where you feel the pain. Ask for specific exercises to cure the issue and then make sure you incorporate these exercises into your regular routine.

Often, simple running issues can be easily addressed:

Too much repetitive training / Not enough variety in the schedule

For those who like running, the temptation is to run more. This is fine but many people fall into the trap of simply running for longer at the same speed or following the same routes.

If you follow this approach it’s likely that your progress will plateau and then you’ll maybe even feel as though you’re going backwards as your familiar runs begin to take you longer or feel tougher.

Overtraining / Not enough rest

One of the benefits of good planning with your training schedule is that you will be able to plan your rest days as well as your training days. Remember, it is during your rest days when your body makes adaptations and grows fitter and stronger.

Depending on your objectives you should aim for 2-3 days off running per week. This doesn’t mean you have to be inactive on these days, you can train in other ways, but you should always have 1-2 recovery days each week. If this is part of the plan you can rest without guilt.

How to design the best running training programme

Plan a schedule with plenty of variety. A successful running schedule should consist of the following:

  • Running at steady speed

  • Running at ‘race’ pace

  • Interval training / speed work of different durations

  • Hill training

  • Strength training – upper and lower body

  • Mobility exercises

  • Stretching

  • Cross training – cycling, swimming, X-trainer, Spinning, dancing, fencing, climbing

  • Goals and objectives

  • A nutrition plan

Here’s how the plan breaks down:

Running at steady speed

There’s great value in those familiar runs at a comfortable pace that allow you to work on your running technique but also enable your mind to wander a little bit.

Running at race pace

If you’re training for specific events and / or distances, you need to regularly practice running at the speed you want to maintain for your event. You need to know exactly what it feels like to move at this pace over a variety of terrain.

Interval training / speed work of different durations

Whatever distance you’re training for, you need to include some speed work in your training. And your speed work needs to be varied.

  • For example, during one session you could do 400m sprints with 200-400m recovery between each sprint. You may choose to do 5-10 repetitions of these sprint intervals.

  • Or you may opt for 10-minutes faster running with 5-minutes recovery.

  • Or you may go for 15-minutes comfortable running, 15-minutes faster running and 15-minutes running as fast as you can maintain, followed by 15-minutes comfortable running before trying one final 15-minute burst of speed.

  • Or you may go for 30-seconds of fast running followed by 1 minute of recovery and repeat this for 20-30 minutes.

The choice is yours but aim to challenge your body in as many different ways as possible.

Hill training

A great way to strengthen your body and boost your fitness. You can alternate between short, fast hills and longer, slower hills. Run up and either jog or walk back down to recover. Focus on maintaining an upright running position.

Strength training: upper and lower body

To encourage strength, stamina, balance and injury prevention, strength training is vital to your routine.

Mobility & Stretching exercises

Tightness and imbalance can stop your running in it’s tracks so don’t risk either. If you like running, you’ll want to spend most of your training time pounding the pavements but pay good attention to the slower elements of your training. These are essential to keep you on the road in the long-term.

Cross training: cycling, swimming, X-trainer, Spinning, dancing, fencing, climbing

Run too much and you’ll either get injured or bored, or both. Include a variety of other types of training to balance your body and to stimulate your mind. For your cardio cross-training follow the rules for interval / sprint training. Your cross training sessions can also include circuits made up of strength training exercises and burst of skipping.

Goals and objectives

Many runners run simply because they enjoy it, which is great. By the same token, many runners go through periods where they find it difficult to get motivated. This is why you need a schedule of events and challenges in your calendar. It provides you with a reason to stick to your training plan rather than missing sessions because you’re too tired or busy or not feeling motivated.

A nutrition plan

This doesn’t just mean good nutrition before and after your training sessions – and possibly during them. Good nutrition every day is the best way to provide optimum fuel for all your training and enable your body to recover quickly and effectively.

And finally, here are a few suggestions for some running specific exercises to boost strength, endurance, balance and stability. You can incorporate these are part of a run or put them together to create a circuit training session.

Best strength exercises for running

  • Sumo squats & single leg calf raises

  • Narrow to wide squat jumps and lunges with leg kick

  • Single leg lunges & bodyweight squats

  • Lunges with a twist

  • Bent over rows

Core exercises

  • Scissor kicks

  • Bridge on ball and bridge with leg curl

Best stretches

  • Calves & hamstrings

  • Quads & hip flexors

  • Cat & Dog, knee rolls

Best dynamic exercises

These lateral movements will help strengthen the muscles that keep you stable while running. Find a clear line on the ground or lay a skipping rope out lengthways. Then:

  • Hop over the line from side to side (First one foot, then the other)

  • Step over the line from side to side (Shift your weight from left foot to right foot as you step over the line)

  • Jump over the line from side to side (Jump with feet together over the line)

  • Jump over the line and twist 180-degrees in the air



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