Pretty often, you’ve only just managed to slump out of bed or you’ve been sitting at your desk all day before you put on your trainers and head out on to the road for your run.
But did you really take the time to warm up properly? Really though? `
Most of us only walk or jog for a couple of minutes or do some cursory stretching before venturing out on our run and ramping up the pace.
At Mbition we recommend that you warm up for between five to twenty minutes, depending on the type of session you are doing. Whilst you can ease into a longer and less arduous training run, a session that will incorporate more speed and stress on the body will require a more thorough warm up to compensate for the intensive effort.
> START WITH A WALK -Walking is an awesome place to start as it elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the major muscles you will use when you eventually start running. It’s not just your legs that are involved in running either, so get your arms swinging to warm up the upper body too.
Walking with a longer stride will also stretch out your hip flexors, wake up your hamstrings and glutes, and gently stretch your achilles and lower leg muscles.
You can start to increase your walking pace by swinging your arms faster, so you really start to elevate your heart rate - increasing your breathing at the same time and getting your body ready for action.
> DON'T FORGET YOUR TRUNK MUSCLES - Both your core and your back have to work hard when running to keep you stable from the opposing forces generated by moving from leg to leg. Try gentle twisting movements such as high knees across the body or if you are feeling coordinated try Side Steps. Move sideways by stepping directly to the side with one foot, and then step behind with the other. Repeat the action so you travel in one direction like a day-glo crab.
> TAKE IT UP A NOTCH - So by this stage you should be feeling loose and your heart rate should be elevated. Start to build up to a jog, keeping your shoulders relaxed and bringing your attention to your body. How is it feeling? Do you have any niggles or tight muscles that might need a bit more time to warm up?
Feeling good? Then you’re ready for action!
11 WEEKS - BECOME A PACE MASTER
11 weeks to go! It's important to get your pacing right so you push yourself at the right level, get optimum training gains and are not fatigued going into your next session.
LISTENING TO YOUR BODY TO PACE BETTER
Getting your pacing right can be difficult both in training and on race day, but like learning any new skill, practise makes perfect. Practising and being aware of your pace will help you become more consistent, make the most of each training session and increase your chance of a personal best on race day.
HOW TO PRACTICE PACING
> CHECK YOUR GPS LESS - GPS can be an effective tool to monitor your pace, but runners can often become too dependent on it. Relying on GPS can reduce your natural ability to maintain a consistent pace throughout your run, and you can find yourself speeding up and slowing down frequently to hit the right pace.
If you’re running at a continuous pace throughout a session or running long intervals, take a look at your GPS in the first 2-3 minutes to make sure you’re on pace, and then don’t look at it again until you’ve finished that interval.
> RUN BY FEEL - Running by feel can help you run more intuitively - in tune with how your body feels. Try to feel your running rhythm by listening to the sound your feet make when they hit the ground, and notice how quickly your arms are moving back and forth. Take a look at the surroundings around you and try to get a sense of how quickly you are moving
> USE YOUR BREATHING - Monitor your breathing rhythm to help you feel the pace. Once you lock onto your correct pace for the workout, you can note whether you begin to breathe faster, or change your breathing rhythm when you accidentally speed up or slow down.
> HIT THE TRACK - The track is the best place to practice pacing so you understand your natural rhythm better. It’s on the track where you can measure your pace by recording splits every 100 and 400 meters. As you get better at pacing on the track, you can begin to extend the length of your intervals and use your experience on your normal running routes.
> INTERVAL SESSIONS - Tempo and speed sessions allow you to practise changing pace frequently and get you used to feeling what slight differences in pace feel like. You can think of pacing like gears of a car or bike - you want to be able to adjust the gear for the terrain and type of session you are doing.
> BE PATIENT - Learning how to control your pacing can be hard at first, but it is an essential skill for racing faster and improving your fitness. It may take a few runs before you start to get a natural sense of pace, but before you know it you’ll be running on target pace without even looking at your GPS.
Mbition plans contain a guide pace for every different type of session, making it easy to maximise your training gains. For more information on pacing, check out our pacing guide.
10 week to go! Have you included Strength and Conditioning into your training plan?
Strength and conditioning is an essential part of you becoming a stronger, more efficient and less injury prone runner. This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym and start pumping iron, in fact many elite runners spend more time bodyweight strength training than lifting heavy weights.
SO WHY IS STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING IMPORTANT?
Building your strength will improve your running performance because it’s muscular strength which levers your skeleton to move. More specifically, strength and conditioning will improve:
> RUNNING ECONOMY which means your muscles will fatigue less quickly when you run at a steady pace.
> MUSCLE ENDURANCE so you will also be able to maintain speed for longer, particularly when running up hills.
> POWER so you are able to increase your speed as you sprint to the finish line.
But it’s not all about gains in pace. When training just consists of running, the repetitive nature of it can lead to overuse injuries. Strength and conditioning training will help to improve your running form by increasing your mobility and activating the specific muscle groups you need for efficient running.
It also works the muscles that you don’t use when running, so your body stays balanced and helps to reduce chance of injury.
Mbition training plans have optional conditioning sessions that you can add to your plan. Each session takes just 30 mins, no equipment is needed and it will make a huge difference to your running.
9 weeks to go! We hope your training is going well.
This is the time when you can make some huge gains in training by doing a variety of sessions. And whether you love them or hate them, running up hills is a sure way to improve your strength, speed and stamina.
WHY HILL RUNNING WORKS
Hill running strengthens tendons and ligaments in your hips, legs, ankles and feet, reduces the risk of injury and improves overall running form. Running uphill makes your muscles contract more powerfully because you are overcoming gravity as you move up the hill. It’s a fantastic addition to any strength work you do in the gym or at home, because you recruit all your ‘running muscles’ rather than isolating them as you would when using a leg press for example. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.
TIPS FOR RUNNING UP HILL
A lot of coaches talk about ‘attacking the hill’ because you do need more focus and determination during any hill climb. But essentially running uphill is all about rhythm; if you let the hill break up your rhythm you will slow dramatically.
> KEEP YOUR RHYTHM - To maintain your rhythm as you start to ascend, firstly you need to set one - either count in your head of focus on the tempo of your arms pumping back and forth.
> CYCLE UP - As you start uphill, think about lifting your heels up behind you in a circular motion, as this will help to shorten your stride length and recruit your power muscles - hamstrings and glutes. This should be a gentle increase in hill lift, not an explosive push off.
> BE CONSISTENT- You are aiming for equal effort going up as well as down, not equal pace. Keep the focus on your rhythm and don’t worry about how fast you are travelling - trying to maintain the pace you were running on the flat will leave you exhausted later on.
> KEEP UPRIGHT - Your posture should be upright, don’t lean forward or back, so your head, shoulders and back form a straight line over your feet.
TIPS FOR RUNNING DOWN HILL
The key to running downhill is to stay in control. Most runners either sprint, which causes severe muscle soreness later on, or they’re so hesitant to surrender to gravity that they’re constantly braking, which fatigues the quadriceps muscles at the front of your thighs. The optimum pace is somewhere in between.
> STEP LIGHTLY - When running downhill focus on stepping lightly and don’t reach out with your feet, this will prevent your feet from slapping on the ground and putting excess force through your lower leg. Increasing your cadence will help you to do this as it will prevent over striding and therefore minimise injury risk.
> KEEP UPRIGHT - Try to maintain an upright body posture and focus on engaging your core so you don’t lose control and let gravity take over.
> KEEP IN CONTROL - If you do start to run out of control when descending, make your movements smaller by shortening your stride until you feel you are back in control again.
8 WEEKS - HOW TO INCREASE YOUR SPEED
8 weeks to go! And the great news is there is still time to make gains in your speed by making some small changes to your running technique.
QUICK GUIDE ON HOW TO IMPROVE RUNNING TECHNIQUE
> PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT - You may have heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practise to hone a new skill but you can make some positive changes to your running technique in just a couple of weeks. Any changes will feel odd to begin with, but if you keep practising they will feel more natural and easier to maintain.
> GET TO KNOW YOUR RUNNING STYLE - First it's important to get to know what your running style is like, because how can you change something if you don't know what needs to be changed? You can do this by running on a treadmill and looking in the mirror, ask a friend to take a video or maybe take a glance of yourself as you run by some shop windows.
WHAT TO LOOK OUR FOR
> ARMS - Try and notice what you do with your arms - to they swing across your body, are they down by your sides or waving around like Phoebe from Friends!?!?
> POSTURE - Next take a look at your body posture - are you leaning forward, upright or leaning backwards?
> LANDING - Listen to your landing - is there a difference in the noise when your right foot strikes the ground in comparison to your left foot? Do you make a lot of noise when you land? Try to notice which part of your foot is in contact with the ground when you land. You may land with your heel first then roll onto your midfoot or you may land on your toes.
Lastly, what motion are your legs making when they run. How high are your heels coming up behind you, do they stay low to the ground or are they up near your bum? Does your knee bend before you strike the ground or does it stretch out in front of you?
WHAT EFFICIENT RUNNERS DO
Now you've got a grasp on what to look out for, let’s look at what efficient runner's do....
> LIGHT LANDING - efficient runner's spend less time in contact with the floor because they strike the ground underneath their hips. Their leg movement is almost circular as they lift the heel up behind them, then drive the knee forward before striking the ground. They look like they are gliding along because they have minimal contact with the ground which means they apply less breaking forces and they don't waist energy bouncing up and down.
TOP TIP: When running uphill, focus on lifting your heels up behind you and make a circular motion as you cycle your legs. The hill and leg action will help you to land underneath your hips so you spend less time on the ground. Once you get the hang of it, try it on the flat too focusing on landing lightly and underneath your hip.
> RUN IN SYMMETRY -'Every action has an equal and opposite reaction', Newton's third law is definitely worth taking note of when you're running. If you are twisting with your upper body, that rotational motion will have a reaction somewhere further down the body i.e. where you land. If you look at the Brownlee brothers run, they pump their arms and have minimal twisting movement in their upper body.
TOP TIP: During your next speed or tempo session, think about pumping your arms back and forth. Ideally you want to have a 90 degree angle in your elbow and as your arm swings focus on gently touching hip then up to your chin.
> STAND TALL - Efficient runners have an upright body postures and some expert favour a very slight forward lean from the ground (not the waist), as they say it helps with forward propulsion.
TOP TIP: Think about standing tall, lifting out of your hips and shoulder back next time you’re out running. You'll find your core muscles start to work harder and it's easier to breath.
> DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP - Any changes to running technique take time and it's important to stress that it is 'your technique' - no one is perfect, but we can always be more efficient in our own running style. It will take weeks of practise before any changes to your technique feel natural, but equally it should never feel totally uncomfortable. Even the most experienced runners are still working on improving on their technique so don't beat yourself up if it takes a while to master.
TOP TIP: Keep practising!
7 WEEKS - PICK UP THOSE PICK-UPS!
WHAT IS A PICK-UP?
A pick-up is a short, gentle increase in speed during a run, lasting from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. You will find them mainly in your long run sessions because essentially they are there to remind your legs that you can run fast!
When you’re training at a slower pace over a longer distance you are building up the foundation to run a marathon, but you are also teaching the body to run slowly - and potentially race slower. Pick-ups help to stimulate speed over long distance, and also help with your running form as it will increase engagement of your major muscle groups and we generally run with better technique when we run faster.
Your session may advise you to perform a pick-up anywhere from 2-10 times during your long run. But there are no set amount of intervals, feel free to add a few more in or just mix up the pace. The idea is to run faster when you feel like it, and slow back down to your steady pace so you run continuously with faster and slower paces.
Personally I like to throw in a pick-up when I’m feeling a bit sluggish or lose my rhythm as it gives me a buzz, make me mindful of my running technique and keeps my long runs interesting.
Top tip: Adding a pick-up, at the end of a long run will help aid recovery
6 WEEKS - FUELING YOUR RUN
With 6 weeks to go, you will want to think about what fuel is going to get you running at your best on race day. What you eat before your race, and when you eat it, could have a big impact on your energy level and overall performance.
For a 5k race you won’t need to take on any calories during the race as it's relatively short. Also you may find it upsets your stomach because of the higher intensity, so it’s advisable to have a balanced meal the night before and a good breakfast on race day.
> EVENING MEAL - Have a balance meal that is easy to digest for example grilled salmon, steamed zucchini and a bit of brown rice. In addition to your meal, keep hydrated with water leading up to your event.
> BREAKFAST > Don’t use the morning of the race as an opportunity to try something new for breakfast since it could backfire and cause discomfort or digestive troubles. Go for foods that you know are easy on your stomach such as banana and a slice of brown toast. Your meal should be low in protein and fat and include low-fiber carbs.
Stop drinking at least 30 minutes before the race begins. Having excess water in your system will make you feel bloated, slow you down and possibly give you stomach cramps. Plus you don’t want to be late to the start line because you need to pee!
TOP TIP: Try a variety of foods throughout your training plan to find what works for you. It’s also important to select foods that you enjoy, and that you know your digestive system tolerates well, because your mood and comfort will affect your performance.
4 WEEKS - PLAN YOUR RACE
5k races are fantastic because you get such a variety of runners attending, and therefore there is no "one way" to run it. Before you set off on the start line it’s important to have a race plan of how you want to run the race.
WHAT TYPE OF 5K RUNNER ARE YOU?
> FIRST TIMER - Your first 5k is often about getting round and enjoying the atmosphere. Try to run at the steady pace you have been running at in training, and if you have lots of energy left in the last 1km - take up the pace and go for it!
> MIDDLE DISTANCE - A good tactic for running a fast 5k is to start at a comfortable pace and slowly increase the pace every 1 km until you get to the last kilometre. Then really hit it hard and use your speed to finish strongly.
> ENDURANCE - It’s likely that you’re used to running at an even pace over a long distance so the same principle should apply for a 5k. Run at a faster pace but keep even splits. If you go off too hard it’s likely that you'll be in trouble at the start of the race due to the lactic acid build up in your muscles.
Whatever type of runner you are it can be tempting to start a race fast as your brimming with excitement to get going. But the key is to set off at a steady (not slow) pace that you should be able to hold for 5k.
Pacing a 5k is tough and takes practise - it’s a fine balance between pushing too hard too soon and having too much energy left at the end. Ideally you want to make sure you have given it your best all the way through.
2 WEEKS - TAPER TIPS
Usually the last 2 weeks before race day is time to taper, which means reducing your training, so your body can recover from all the hard work you have put in, and be ready to race.
Winding down your training sounds easy but the taper phase of your training can be the toughest part to get right. You may have had a niggle, or not have gone as far as planned in your last long run, and you think you can probably still squeeze your longest run in this weekend. Don't!!! Tapering begins immediately upon completing your last long training run on your plan. However far you went, you have now done all your long runs and it's time to ease up.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO GET PREPARED?
> TAKE IT EASY - Most of your runs will be at a steady pace so relax and enjoy the shorter sessions.
> DON’T SQUEEZE IN EXTRA TRAINING - try to fight off the urge to utilise that extra free time and energy by substituting it with spin classes and sweaty yoga. Get to know your couch again and just rest!
> STRETCH - Light stretching can help pass the time, plus keep yourself limber and loose so you approach race day feeling your best and niggle-free.
> STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE - it's tempting to think these aches and pains are due to a lack of training, but just say ‘no’ and stick to your training plan.
> LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY - by eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and sleeping well.
> GET RACE READY - we recommend doing a very short speed session (10 mins max) the day before race day to get your body and mind feeling sharp and ready to race. It’s a great way to fire up your muscles after a couple of week of tapering and it will give you a confidence boost to know that you’re feeling on top form.
1 WEEK TO GO - Race prep!
Race day is fast approaching so we wanted to share our pre-race checklist to help you get prepared for the big day.
> Familiarize yourself with the course and race rules. This will limit any race day confusion and help you mentally prepare for the terrain and any big hills that may be along the way.
If you have family and friends supporting you, share the route with them too. Arrange a point for them to cheer you on to give you an extra boost!
> Packing Up. Get your gear together to minimize any last minute chaos on race day. The weather will be the biggest factor in how much kit to bring so check the forecast but be prepared for possible changes. Wear clothes that have been tested in training to avoid blisters or chafing on race day.
> Ensure you’re well-rested, well-fed and well-hydrated ahead of race day - but don’t overdo the eating!
The evening before your event eat a meal that you are accustomed to. Keep the meal a little more carbohydrate oriented and avoid high fiber, fatty or high protein meals. There is no need to gorge – just enjoy a sensible meal.
> Aim to arrive one hour before the race start time. This will allow enough time for a bathroom break and to warm up. Rushing to the start line will increase stress and burn energy you’ll need to put in your best performance.
> Go to bed early – nervousness the night before your event is normal. Plan ahead and get extra sleep a day early, it will carry over and make up for any lost sleep the night before.
> Pick up your race packet. This may be the day before or on the day of the race. Make sure you have extra safety pins with you on race day just incase.
Enjoy the week's build up, good luck, and go smash a 5k!