The coaches have compiled the following for your guidance:
Warm Up/Warm Down:
It is essential to prepare your body for the effort of your planned session so you should always incorporate an appropriate “active warm up” beforehand.
Active (Dynamic) Warm Up:
- Active warm up involves raising muscle core temperature by some external means, while utilising exercise (e.g. light aerobic run/jog, active (dynamic) mobility drills, etc. as we do at the Harriers before Club training).
- Static stretching before a run is not advised as it can harm your performance. However dynamic stretches, which use controlled body movements to improve range of motion, loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.
- Make sure you don’t rush your warm-up.
Active Warm (Cool) Down:
- After your session you should always “warm/cool down” to aid recovery from the session and clearing waste products generated by the session from your muscles.
- Cool down with 10-15 minute light aerobic warm down jog/run.
- Your warm down jog/run should ideally be followed by a full stretch as your body should be warm after your session and stretching should therefore be easier.
Static & Passive Stretching:
Static, or passive, stretching will increase your range of movement and mobility whilst also aiding injury prevention.
- Static Stretching: The stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time.
- Passive Stretching: This is similar to Static Stretching but is a technique in which you are relaxed and make no contribution to the range of motion. Instead, an external force is created by an outside agent, either manually or mechanically and should be supervised by an appropriately qualified coach.
- There is plenty guidance on the internet but ideally you should initially do stretching under supervision to ensure that you understand the benefits you are trying to achieve from the stretches and that you do them correctly, it’s easy to get them wrong with associated injury risk.
- Always ensure that your muscles are fully warmed up before commencing. A 10-15 minute light aerobic warm up run would suffice but should preferably be done after training and completion of a warm-down, when your muscles are warm.
- Stretching should ideally encompass your full body, from head to toe; neck, shoulders, lower back, torso, groin area, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, achilleas, ankles, feet & toes. However, be careful if you have any underlying physical issues which might restrict your range of movement or if you are recovering from injury.
- Always work within your comfort zone, as your mobility improves, so will your comfort zone extend. You’ll find that if you take your initial stretch to the limit of your comfort zone, hold, relax, then repeat 2-3 times, you’ll find your range will improve progressively with each stretch but DON’T OVER STRETCH.
- It is recommended that each stretch is held for 10 to 30 seconds and performed 2-4 times. Although formerly it was advised that there is little benefit gained beyond a 6 second stretch, current teaching recommends 20-30 seconds.
- Never bounce while stretching and remember that a stretch should never feel like you’re hurting yourself, always within your “comfort zone”. If it hurts, stop that stretch immediately.
Recovery is an essential element in every training programme so you should build recovery runs and/or non-running days into your training programme. Non-running days don’t have to be exercise free, if you don’t want to take a complete rest day, you might alternatively do cross-training (e.g. hill walking, cycling or swimming, which are still cardiovascular based and contribute to your aerobic fitness).
Boredom can be a major problem and you always need to keep your mind “fresh” so try not to repeat the same training routes or sessions within a fortnight cycle. The mind needs recovery too.
Training Sessions: Jargon buster!
- Weekly Long Endurance (Aerobic) Run: This is where you get the miles in to establish your base aerobic fitness. A handy rule of thumb to determine you target distance is 20 to 30 percent of your overall weekly mileage. As your fitness and mileage increases, so will the length of you weekly long runs.
- Fartlek Runs: Fartlek (Swedish for “Speed Play”) runs are fun sessions where you run as you feel, putting in the efforts as you feel with relaxed jogging recoveries as you feel. These are instinctive runs and can be done over an undulating route, make the efforts on the uphill sections and relax “over the top”, great for building strength, stamina and speed.
- Interval (Repetition) Training:
- Useful guidance and advice from NHS on:
- Interval training involves structured alternating periods of high-intensity effort over set distances with periods of timed low-intensity effort active recovery (jogging) and are brilliant for building speed/endurance and pace judgement.
- They also build psychological strength, teaching your body/brain to cope with unrelenting effort in preparing you for competition. Like a boxer in the ring, you don’t have anywhere to hide doing intervals, the watch doesn’t lie.
- Varying distances, pace and recoveries are selected to train and develop speed, speed endurance and endurance and their respective energy pathways.
- Aim at consistency between high intensity effort and recovery. If you go off too fast for the first rep then you will suffer in the latter stages of the session, so the first rep should feel reasonably comfortable whilst the final rep, with consistent pace and recoveries between rep’s, should feel “eyeballs out”.
- It’s difficult for the coaches to get the correct balance for each individual in “Club mixed ability” training. However, although there will still be an element of trial and error required to get your effort/recovery ratios correct, you could try following the guidance below on “pulse rate recovery”.
- Hill Training:
- Uphill Runs are effectively resistance runs and a great way of improving strength and stamina.
- Downhill Runs on a shallow resilient downhill gradient improve leg speed.
- Tempo (Pace) Runs: Tempo runs provide a direct benefit in longer races for beginners and experienced runners alike in developing the Anaerobic Threshold or Lactate-Threshold pathways and should be run at a pace about 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than your current 5K race pace.
“Pulse Rate Recovery” Guidance:
This guidance is intended to assist you in structuring your interval and repetition type training sessions.
- As a rule of thumb your maximum heart rate is estimated to be 220 minus your age, so, for ease of calculation, for a 40 year old this would be 180bpm.
- Your initial efforts in a session should be targeted at around 85-90% of your maximum for the distance whilst your final efforts will likely be hitting your maximum.
- To assess when you’re ready for the next effort your heart rate should have dropped to 2/3 of your maximum i.e. for our 40 year old example, this would therefore be 120bpm.
- If you consistently fail to hit your 2/3rds target recovery then you’ve probably started off to fast or been taking too short a recovery, in which case, it’s time to stop. Next time, you could try reducing the number of reps in your session or alternatively splitting your target number of reps into say two sets with an extended recovery between sets (e.g. If you are targeting 8 reps try splitting into 2x4rep sets with 5 minutes jog recovery between).
Race “Taper down”:
You always want to build in a “taper down” towards a major targeted race, irrespective of the distance. Likewise, avoid doing a quality session within 48 hours of a race that you are using as a steppingstone towards your main target.
Training for the Hills:
If you’re looking for a more adventurous challenge, then hill running might provide the answer. However, hill running comes with its own inherent risks so please ensure that you have the necessary training, navigational skills, appropriate clothing and safety equipment. We are fortunate in the Harriers to have plenty experienced hill runners who will be more than happy to pass on their knowledge and probably take you out on a “taster”.
Training for the hills is not terribly different from training for other forms of running, thus the Harriers interval sessions can be incorporated into specific hill training schedules.
- Conditioning for hill races should include hill specific training such as:
- Longish hill reps on steep hill terrain.
- Shortish intense hill reps on similar terrain.
- Downhill reps on gentler slopes.
- Varied length runs on hilly terrain.
- Navigation technique training should also be included. This means carrying a map and compass and having the ability to use them. You should practice reading maps, identifying grid references, setting courses and following the course set. While more modern items such as mobile phones and GPS Apps can be useful these are not always totally reliable as not all localities have mobile phone coverage.
- Clothing & Equipment: Wear sensible running gear appropriate to the conditions including hill shoes and just as important, carry appropriate emergency safety clothing, i.e. full weatherproof body cover including a hat, gloves and for emergency contact a whistle and a mobile phone.
Excellent advice on safety in the hills can be found on The Scottish Hill Runners website https://www.scottishhillrunners.uk/Home.aspx.
It is essential to improve your overall and particularly your core strength. You don’t need to go to a gym for this or require any fancy equipment. It’s easy to work out a simple “bodyweight circuit training” session.
- Work out a circuit of exercises to work all the main muscle groups and arrange to alternate between opposing muscle groups so effectively “resting” between.
- You might need a bit instruction to ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly and not risking injury but there are plenty examples with instruction on the internet. However, don’t overdo it, initially you’ll have to practice and master the correct technique to get the exercise model right before you can concentrate on the training benefits (Don’t try to be a Rocky Balboa).
- This form of strength training also incorporates an aerobic element into the session.
- Initially try to do 5-10 reps of each exercise as you improve you can increase the number of reps and consider extending the range of exercises.
- The following simple circuit is only for example but would work all your major muscle groups: Press Ups (Push Ups), Burpees, Abdominal Crunches (NB Don’t put your hands behind your head, put them over your ears, it’s your abdomen that you should be using and not “pulling” your neck, with associated risk of damaging your spine), Triceps’ Dips, Step Ups (Alternate legs; some conflicting internet advice on step height but I would go with leg bent at 90 degrees), Back Extensions.
We are all individuals with unique skeletal and muscular composition and differing associated levels of injury risk. You’ve got to be pretty lucky to get through your running career without picking up an injury at some point so if/when this occurs please don’t hesitate to seek professional advice (Doctor, Physio, etc.) at the very earliest opportunity, the sooner you do the sooner you’ll be back running. Please don’t try “running off” an injury, the chances are it will only get worse and you risk creating referred problems elsewhere as your body compensates.
Your feet are your prime consideration so please don’t stint when purchasing your running shoes, ensure that they are a comfortable fit with appropriate toe clearance (hill running or cross-country shoes may need to be a slightly tighter fit) and suitable for the terrain over which you intend training/racing. You will get expert advice and assessment from any of the specialist running stores.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy high-tech clothing, as long as it’s comfortable and doesn’t chaff (you might find Vaseline helpful in this respect).
A couple of tips when washing your gear, always zip up zips and turn the clothing inside out, this protects zips from damage and labelling/branding logos, etc.
In order to develop, your training needs to be consistent and requires a structured training programme to achieve progression (e.g. in weekly mileage, number of repetitions in a session, target rep times, reduced recoveries between rep’s, etc.), whilst also incorporating recovery between sessions, training blocks/cycles and seasonally .
The Club coaches are here for you and will be happy to assist with appropriate planning and/or advice, whether you are a complete beginner or one of our more experienced members.
Dave Cairns Level 3 Performance Coach Long Distance & Sprints
Bill Bennet Level 3 Performance Coach (Fell & Hill)
Susie Maxwell Coach in Running Fitness, Jog Leader
Charlie Crawford Coach in Running Fitness, Jog Leader
16 April 2020