I am going to head up this by saying I am not a running coach, but in the same breath you’re probably not about to enter the the world running championships so I think that probably qualifies us to have this conversation.
Lockdown has encouraged more of us to lace up our trainers and get out there so here are a few things I frequently find myself sharing with members and others who are curious about running / seeking advice.
Should I run every day?
My first response is no. You can have the best trainers in the world but there is no denying running is taxing on our bodies. We need rest days and we need days where we can factor in a stretch and mobility session or we can strength train (more on this later).
But, there are times when your body will be feeling great and capable of a jog every day. Maybe you don’t have much time but its really important to you to get fresh air in the morning in which case 20 mins – 30 mins each day isn’t going to do you any harm. It just won’t do you any good in terms of progression – getting better at running or getting faster.
How long should I run for and how much running should I do each week?
Of course in depends on your goal and intention. What I do, what has helped me and what I have seen work for others is to have a simple pretty even split of easier runs and harder runs.
Your easier runs want to be easy, that might seem a way off for you right now but it will come. You want to run at a pace that you can hold a conversation, a pace that allows you to still stand when you get home and a pace that has you feeling ‘I could probably go a little further’. These easy runs may actually be your longer runs, longer in distance but less intense in pace.
Your harder runs could be where you push yourself for time and maybe add in sprints. These ones do want to leave you feeling like you worked. Examples for these harder sessions might include:
- For time – this could be anywhere from 2km or 3km to 5k or 6km.
- Short sprints – warm up (1 or 2km) > 100m sprint and walk back to start line (x reps you feel comfortable with noting this down so you can improve) > cool down (1 or 2km).
- Medium sprints – warm up (1.5km) > fast pace (500m) > walk (30 or 60 seconds) > steady jog (1.5km) > fast pace (500m) > walk (30 or 60 seconds) (x reps you feel comfortable with noting this down so you can improve) > cool down (1km).
- Long sprints – warm up (1 or 2km) > fast pace (1km) > walk (2 or 3 minutes) > steady jog (1km) > fast pace (1km) > walk (2 or 3 minutes) (x reps you feel comfortable with noting this down so you can improve) > cool down (1km).
With regards to how many times you run that might progress. I’ve played around with running every day, running 6 days and in the past I use to just run 1 or 2 days. Now I run 4 days and that works for me 🙂
Strength training for runners
When we run and we stride we spend a lot of time on just one leg. So stability and strength are super important – primarily that needs to come from your lower body and your core.
I won’t overwhelm you with too much but here are the exercises I would be incorporating into my training if I wanted to improve my stability and strength.
Lower body: step ups , lunges (walking, with rear or front foot elevated, static, with weight, without weight, with band in payoff position), single leg straight leg dead lifts, dead lifts, squats (front, back, cossack), glute bridges, hip thrusts.
Core: plank variations, supine toe taps and straight leg extensions, dead bug variations, super man variations, paloff press, diagonal side lean.
Stretching for runners
There isn’t too much that won’t need stretching out if you are a new runner but here would be by quick guide:
- Cat cow – mobilise the spine.
- Downward dog – to stretch your posterior chain.
- Low lunge – for your hip flexors.
- Lizard – hips.
- Lizard with a twist (and bind*) – deep into the outside of the front hip and back quad.
- Interlace your hands behind your back – big opening into the front of your chest.
Breathing as you run
Now although I teach people how to breathe every day I feel like when it comes to running its a totally different ball game. So this is just my experience / view on things.
When you are new I wouldn’t recommend running to an intensity that leaves you breathless, I would work at a level where you could if needed have a conversation.
Practice breathing before you lace up your trainers! If you do not come to our classes and this is a totally new concept there are free breathing exercise videos here, but you could simply start by sitting for 5 – 10 minutes and practicing a steady full breath. You want to make sure that breath goes right down to the base of your lungs, we want to avoid a shallow short breath.
I have tried nasal breathing as I run – and I still do it every now and then as a way to train my respiratory system. However if I am totally honest its flipping hard and I recommend to breathe as you would the rest of the time, with your mouth and jaw relaxed slightly open – make life easier for yourself!
Music and tracking devices
For me (and maybe for you) running is a chance to step away from my laptop, from work and simply do something for myself. So whilst the majority of the time I run with my watch on and I am tuned into a podcast. I do think there is a lot to be said for running without a tracking device, without the worry of your pace or speed and without the stimulation of music or conversation.
There is something quite freeing in this and you run taking in the surroundings, appreciating nature and noticing aspects of the route you never did before.
*I always run with my phone on me even if I am not listening to music or tracking my miles. I think this is important for everyone – especially the ladies reading this. I use a running belt I got from decathlon and I’ve used flip it running belts in the past too.*
So there we have it, my ramblings about running! Please leave me any questions I haven’t managed to answer and do feel free to share this with anyone you know who is giving this whole running malarkey a go!