With time on our hands, the gyms and swimming pools closed for the foreseeable future, running has become the next best thing and in some cases a newfound love. Yet, we are already hearing of injuries and over-training as more running shoes pound the streets and trails in this difficult time. We asked resident Running Coach Stuart Hale to give his thoughts on sensible training development and those stepping out the door to run for the first time or perhaps in a while. Then there is the issue of staying healthy in these times, especially without overtaxing your immune system.
Training Sensibly, Some Guidelines.
Plenty of you are talking about or have been asking what training sensibly means. It is just too easy to head out the door at the moment and run. Some for the first time, whilst others have dramatically increased the number of runs they have undertaken. So what is best, especially as no one wants unnecessary injury on the onset of delayed muscle soreness. So here we go…
For those new to running or looking to increase their training time and or days.
1) The 10% Rule
Look at your training in minutes, not distance. For any given run, or by week, you should avoid adding any more than 10% of your training time to your run, within reason. So if this week’s run was 40 minutes, taking it to 45 minutes would be sensible. Jumping to an hour would not. Conversely if ran for 3-hours total last week, adding 18 minutes to one run would also be increasing the risk of excessive fatigue.
2) The Hard / Easy Rule
Follow any longer or harder run with an easy day’s training. This could include going for a walk instead of a run. This rule is also helpful if you are looking to add training days to your current regime. Say you currently run three days a week, don’t just jump straight to five days. Add an extra easy day running first, shorter in duration than you know you can run. So if you are comfortable with running for 30 minutes then your new day should be a very easy 15 to 20 minutes of running that is extremely comfortable. Do this for a couple of weeks before adding another new training day. Walking is still a great way to develop your aerobic fitness and makes for a fine recovery session.
3)The Rule of the 4th Week.
Sometimes referred to as a step down week. every 4th week back off your training, chill a little and give your body a chance to adapt to what you are doing. This is in both duration and intensity. Training adaptation takes place during rest and recovery. So every fourth cut your training back by a good 25%ish. You may just be surprised how much fresher you feel after a week of easy.
4) Keep Talking, yes it’s a rule.
If you are newer to running then staying aerobic is both sensible and at times tough to achieve. It’ll come. So as a guide here’s the ‘Talk Guide’ to running intensity.
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.
For those new to running and those looking to develop their number of running days then the best bet is to try and stay within L1 and L2. Yes, this will be quite tough to do at first and you will find that if you do really give it a go then you will start to see a real gain in around six weeks. Some folk when they start running do struggle to keep their breathing at L1 and L2 and that is normal. What is not so good is that they keep these out of breath efforts going, despite fitness gains, thinking this is OK. No, it’s not, keep it going and you will begin to overtrain and struggle even more to get that breathing under control. Don’t be put of that slow running feels like you are close to walking, again that’s OK and you are out there giving it ago.
For those taking up running for the first time then it is well worth checking out the ‘One You Couch to 5k’ app (Android and Apple) by Public Health England Digital.
If you have more running experience then take some time to think about your training progression with the guidelines above helping to point the way. How your training will look will depend on the starting point. That is your current fitness and how much you currently train. If you are currently training 3 times a week your training could look something like this and I have assumed the training time, so please adapt for your particular circumstance. I have also assumed that the training goal is to run more days.
|Wk 1||Wk 2||Wk 3||Rec Wk||Wk 5||Wk 6||Wk 7|
|Mon||30 min Walk||20 min run/walk||20 mins Run||30 min Walk||20 min run/walk||20 mins Run L1||20 mins L1|
|Tues||40 mins L2||40 mins L2||40 mins L2||30 mins L1||40 mins L2||40 mins L2||40 mins L2|
|Wed||30 min Walk||30 min Walk||30 min Walk||30 mins Walk||30 mins Walk||20 min run/walk||20 mins L1|
|Thurs||30 mins L2||30 mins L2||35 mins L2||20 mins L1||30 mins L2||35 mins L2||35 mins L2|
|Sat||30 mins L2||30 mins L2||35 mins L2||25 mins L1||30 mins L2||35 mins L2||40 mins L2|
|Sun||Rest Day||Rest Day||Rest Day||Rest Day||Rest Day||Rest Day||Rest Day|
If at any time you are feeling fatigued and think it is creeping up on you just pop an extra recovery week in and then crack on repeating your last week of training. The key here is not to become overtired and running becomes a real struggle.
The above is very much intended as a guide and should be adapted to you. It is an example, a demonstration of how your training could be developed in a safe way.
Remember, during these strange times, if you feel unwell, even in the slightest, don’t risk it. Take the day off and see how you are tomorrow. Better to be sensible.
In the next article I will take a look at training sensibly in the middle of a pandemic and ensuring your look after yourself and this will include advice for the fitter and more experienced runner who is more familiar with regular high intensity training. In the meantime stay safe and always err on the side of caution. Go enjoy yourselves.