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General Training Articles

 
 
 
 
 

WARM UP TIPS

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!

STAY STRONG - IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTH & CONDITIONING

Have you included Strength and Conditioning into your running 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 your 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.

 

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BECOME A PACE MASTER

It's important to get your pacing right so you push yourself at the right level, you get the 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 - Using 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 and 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. 

IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING WITH HILL REPEATS

We hope your training is going well.

 

You make some huge training gains 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. As 

> 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. 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. 
 

IMPORTANCE OF THE LONG RUN

The long run is one of the most important parts of your training prep as it teaches your body how to spend time on its feet, how to utilise fat as a primary fuel source and essentially ensures you can run the distance on race day.

 

The secret in perfecting your long runs is to keep it simple, with the emphasis being on the quality of your training not the quantity. 

 

HERE'S OUR LONG RUN TIPS:
 

> KEEP IT SHORT - Running long distances are tiring, repetitive and will place a significant amount of load on your body - two and a half times your bodyweight to be exact! So it’s not surprising that the chance of injury also increases as your mileage ramps up.

For that reason the focus should be on the time you run for not the mileage in one session. It’s best to bolster shorter long runs with other quality training sessions such as tempo, steady and speed workouts throughout your training week. This will simulate the fatigue you’ll experience at the end of the race, but significantly reduce your risk of injury and stress you place on your body.

 

> SLOW DOWN - Your pace for a long runs should be steady pace, which is a very easy pace, fully relaxed with breathing only slightly elevated. If you can talk whilst you are running along, you’re at the right effort. A common mistake is to run too fast or at a pace you are ‘used to’, but it’s important to vary your effort level in your sessions. Running at a pace which is too fast will set you up for disaster on race day - you may feel great for 4-6 weeks but as training progresses you will fatigue, get body aches and your performance will begin to suffer.  

 

> TAKE ON FUEL - Learning how to fuel for a long run is the key to finishing your long run feeling strong. You want to take in enough to keep up your energy and pace, but taking in too many carbohydrates can cause digestive upset, cramping, and emergency stops at the bathroom. Most sources, such as Runner’s World, recommend consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates during a long run (75 minutes or longer) or race. This is a large range, so how many carbs you exactly take in depends on your weight, intensity, the weather, and how long you will be running for. For more detailed information check out this article.

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