Running is an extremely efficient and simple sport. Tie your shoes and off you go, anywhere and anytime. But simplicity also has its pitfalls. If you enjoy running, you will run more often, further and faster. But if you “only” run, sooner or later you’ll end up with overuse problems. Therefore, you should look at running like a house that you constantly maintain, renovate, and also expand so that it lasts in the long run. Ten points that make a complete runner.
1. Run regularly
The basis of every running athlete is regular long runs, preferably longer than 30 minutes. It therefore sounds simple, but at the beginning it is usually the most important advice: if you want to get better, you need to train more, especially if you are currently running two or at most three times a week. And the same applies: For a versatile basic training, you should also include sports with a constant load in your daily training routine right from the start, such as cycling, swimming, inline skating or cross-country skiing.
2. Strengthen the muscles
If you run, you need strong core muscles. If you don’t have good core stability, you will move your hips on impact, your leg axis will be out of kilter, and your joints will be overly stressed. For this reason, strength training is a must for every runner. With a little imagination, you can easily train strength on your usual running circuit. Or in the fitness center with equipment and under guidance. Or even in group training to groovy music. Now in winter is the ideal time for this.
3. Stretching for more flexibility
The older you get, the more you have to take care of your flexibility, be it with stretching or gymnastic exercises. Especially useful are gymnastic exercises that involve torso rotation, stretching the hips or swinging the shoulders. Stretching is best done after a training session, but only after showering. And not only the foot, leg and hip muscles (calves, front and back thighs, gluteal muscles), but also the shoulders and upper body.
4. Train coordination
A normal runner is, to put it charitably, in the vast majority of cases not a world champion in coordination, but usually fails fine motor skills already in hop running or lateral translation. Therefore: skipping, heeling, running sideways and backwards, short fast steps forwards and backwards, different forms of rolling; everything that breaks the usual sequence of movements is good as a change.
5. Work on speed
Speed is usually lost with age. And therefore speed training is good for every athlete. It’s important to know: You don’t train speed with a “fast” 10-minute run, but only with sprints where you’re going really fast. Short but fast is the motto. The best way to practice such sprints is on continuous, slightly uphill terrain. This keeps the strain on the musculoskeletal system within bounds.
6. Vary the intensity
If you always run with a pulse of 120, you can run longer and longer at this intensity, but if you suddenly have to run at a pulse of 160, you’ll soon run out of steam. Therefore, the following applies: Different degrees of exertion form the ingredients for a versatile running menu. Only a varied composition of intensities ensures that new stimuli can be set again and again. For beginners, three levels (easy, medium and hard) are sufficient. In practice, this means that if you train three times a week, you can do one continuous workout at one level and the next at another level.
7. Jump from time to time!
The specific strength of the legs can be trained not only by a targeted build-up in the weight room, but also efficiently promoted with jumps. Running jumps strengthen the body and lead to an improvement in coordination and running technique. But be careful: The jumps are not quite as easy and dynamic as they look. Therefore, when doing jumping exercises, start with the basics first and only increase the duration and intensity slowly. Jumping rope is also ideal for foot strength training.
8. Run hills
Hill runs are the perfect way to integrate strength and stamina into your running. Hill runs are very demanding for the muscles and the cardiovascular system (switch on enough recovery time afterwards), but not for the musculoskeletal system. The principle is simple. During the load period, go uphill, then (depending on the terrain) either take a break marching or very easy trot back to the starting point.
9. Challenge your mental power as well
If you want to perform at your best in a competition, you have to leave your comfort zone; and that is definitely emotionally uncomfortable. In technical jargon, this is called tempo hardening. But you could also call it mental training. What is meant is the bite and the ability to endure longer and longer time units at the limit. For the right “bite”, various forms of training such as fast endurance running, driving game and intervals are suitable.
10. Run “naked”
Do you never run without a cell phone or GPS watch? Then you should definitely do this once in a while. Observe at what load the body and the heartbeat react and how. This will train your body awareness and you will be able to assign your feeling to different loads and tempos better and better. For many hobby runners it is true that they would be far better if they spent the time they spend evaluating the data on the PC on training. And last but not least, it is also good for the mind to be on the move without digital observation from time to time.
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