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Good Sense Running

Good Sense RunningFor those amongst you who have been training hard through the winter, perhaps having come off the Cross Country season, March and early summer are often the time when the training intensity starts to rack up. Later, warmer days bring out the short-shorts and the need for speed for that next race is all important. By the time social-distancing became the new norm many will have been running tempo sessions and intervals plus specific race pace sessions.  Even for those ramping up the mileage for a spring marathon there will be dissapointment and a need to keep at least a balance of base fitness with a little speed.

Yet, it is well documented that longer training runs and harder sessions can impair the immune system and this is something we should all be looking to avoid at this time. Yet, regardless of this those who are used to higher intensity training and or putting in the miles will want to do more than just go for a run.  It can also be argued that the fitter you are then you are lessening the impact on your body, yet by the same token it is also easier to really push the envelop that little bit more. So it has to be all about balance and applying good sense.

Rest and Recovery Is Where It’s At…
First and foremost the rules from my last article still apply to the more experienced athelete at this time (Here >>). Appropriate rest and recovery are key at this time.

  • Good sleep and nutrition (plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables for a start), plus adequate recovery from your training. By ‘Adequate’ more than you would normally have is what we are talking about here.
  • Overtraining has to be considered a big No-No – your immune system will be compromised. So no stepping on the gas, over and above what you would normally do. Likewise you shouldn’t be adding in extra sessions just because you have been stuck indoors all day. Conversley adding in another longer run when you normally wouldn’t, increases your risk of overtraining.

There is a big argument for stopping all pace, interval and tempo sessions in favour of long slow aerobic training runs. In this case the recomendation is that recovery runs would be at L1, long slow distance endurance runs at L2 and shorter aerobic sessions should not exceed L3. (See below for what the Levels equate too).  If we are going to play things completely safe then this is what we should do, no debate or argument. “Level 3”, I hear you cry, “Is that it?”
Level 3 training is an excellent way of strengthening your cardio system, expands your lungs and gets your heart working a little harder without too much overload. If you are new to L3 then step into these runs gradually and sensibly.
There is actually quite a lot you can do with L3 so here’s a few ideas…

  • Try a Level 3 time trial. Depending on your fitness this could be anywhere from 30 minutes to 75 minutes. Stay below the maximum HR number for that zone for the duration. Then measure, how far did you run? When you come to repeat the session you have a direct comparison and something to work with. Remember to allow for weather conditions as warmer days may result in less distance covered.
  • Fartlek sessions at a given heart rate maximum can be fun, especially if you can find some quite trails and woodland. Hills, steps and loops can all add fun to your session. As with all fartlek vary the distance you run faster, the length of the recovery and the pace of the efforts.
  • Short rep sessions with walk back rest at L3 will see you moving quite quickly. Try 6 – 10 reps of 50 meters with walk back recovery.
    Increase the recovery if needs be as you move through the session. Pyramid sessions can be fun too.
  • 20 second hills reps up a very steep gradient can be a surprise. Play a game with yourself, how slow can run you them? No momentum equates to the fact that you will have to apply more strength to each push. Benefits there then.

All of the above will require an appropriate warm up and warm down and also offer an opportunity to work on technique. If you want to play things safe, then keep to level 3 and no more following the guidelines from the previous article (Here >>).

‘But I Feel the Need for Speed’.
Now here’s the tough one. If you already a regular when it comes to pace work, intervals and tempo sessions, you should in theory have become more resilient and tolerant to a higher workload. That doesn’t mean you should just carry on as before. It is still important to just think about each session before you jump right in and leave yourself jelly legged and bent over double from the last rep breathing in great gulp fulls of air.

  • Drop the volume. So instead of 12 x 100, go to 10 x 100.
  • Increase the Rest period between reps. Walk back between reps or jog back and add 15 sec standing before you hit the next rep.
  • Split you normal session into two, So 12 x 100 becomes, 2 sets of 6 x 100. Increase the rest between the reps and then take a couple of minutes between the sets.
  • Tempo runs. Shorten them or again run them as two halves with a jog recovery between them.  If you are running them flat out then try dropping the heart rate by 5 beats, keeping to the same duration.
  • Give your body a chance to recover properly from each session. No back to back’s, enjoy an easy recovery run between sessions.

You get the idea, I am sure. It’s all about keeping your immune system as healthy as possible and not ending a session as a blubbering wreck, save that for when all this has gone away – fingers crossed it’ll be soon.

So in the meantime and in summary here’s some well established guidelines for looking after yourselves on longer and harder running days and during sessions:

  • Don’t run hard if you are tired or still fatigued from a previous training day. Keep the duration down too.
  • If you feel under the weather – Do Not run. It isn’t worth the risk, is it?
  • Before training ensure you are well hydrated and fed. Do not run thirsty nor hungry. Take food and drink with you, especially for those longer runs and during a session.
  • Immediatly following, any run, eat a little and rehydrate. Fresh fruit is ideal with a glass of water. Then eat a proper meal within a couple of hours of finishing training.
  • For interval and tempo sessions increase your recovery time and drop the intensity. Also, look at splitting sessions to increase recovery opportunities for the body.
  • For longer slower runs. Take small walk breaks and enjoy a snack – even when you normally wouldn’t.

So there you have. Be sensible and chill a little. work hard, if you are used to it, just think about the intensity, recovery volume. Think about how you can have a little fun too and try different things out. Enjoy and stay safe.

Next up, I’ll be taking a look at Training Goals now that we lack races to aim for… A Reason to Run.

Article written Stuart Hale, our resident and highly experienced coach at the Accelerate Performance Centre. He works with athletes across all ages and abilities and has been coaching for over 30 years.

Training Intensity Guide:
Level 1 Easy Recovery Training: Easily hold a conversation, you should be able to talk in paragraphs.
Level 2 Aerobic Training and Longer Runs: Talking is still easy although will be down to a couple of longer sentences before taking a breath.
Level 3 Upper Aerobic Levels: You are now down to short sentences and you are breathing quite heavily.  Some will see this as a half marathon effort.
Level 4 Threshold / Anareobic Development: Now you are working really hard. Race pace for a 10km heading into 5km efforts. You will really be talking with one or two words, especially as you get into the run.

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