Running is an extremely efficient sport. But those who “only” run will sooner or later run to their doom. This is how you build a stable running base.
Running is an extremely efficient and simple sport. Tie your shoes and off you go, anywhere and anytime. But simplicity also has its pitfalls. The common perception is that anyone can run. Special instructions or the advice of a trainer – what’s the point? But running is not a sport that should be practiced as the sole and only form of exercise. Those who “only” run will sooner or later run to their doom, i.e. into overuse problems.
With gentle sports, the situation is different. If you only swim, cycle or cross-country ski, you will hardly have to worry about injuries – except for falls. In running, on the other hand, overuse injuries are commonplace. Why? Because running is more fun than strength training or other exercises, and not least because running events are so popular and many abruptly increase their running training in the run-up to a competition.
Learning from the pros
Even professional runners spend at least a quarter of their total training time not on running, but on supporting forms of movement that make fast running possible. Although running makes you fit, it is also a one-sided sport that puts a strain on the musculoskeletal system. So that the athlete’s personal performance house does not collapse in the first storm, it must therefore be solidly and versatilely built. Most important is a good foundation (endurance), on which then each floor, each room and also the balcony should be filled with the other associated factors such as strength, speed, agility and coordination. Of course, you can survive in a bunker in the short term, but if you want to enjoy running for as long as possible and enjoy the countless aspects of it, you should build your house systematically and yet with many variations on several floors. In the following, we will show you ten points that make a complete running athlete and keep him away from overuse injuries.
1. Run often for more than 30 minutes
Running is an endurance sport that specifically trains the cardiovascular system, which has a positive effect on health. The base of every runner is steady endurance runs, preferably longer than 30 minutes. It therefore sounds trivial, but is usually the most important advice at the beginning: if you want to get better, you need to train more. So far you have only run once a week for a good half hour? Then run a second time (and one of those times a little longer). Otherwise, up to this frequency, you don’t have to think much about how exactly you should run. This only becomes an issue after three running sessions per week. Other sports with a constant load such as cycling, swimming, inline skating or cross-country skiing are also suitable for a versatile basic training.
2. Strengthen the muscles
If you run, you need a strong muscle system. Unfortunately, running alone does not provide this. If you do not have good core stability, you will swerve your hips on impact, your leg axis will be out of kilter, and your joints will be overly stressed. However, because normal endurance running does not train core stability, it must be acquired in a different way. For this reason, muscle training is a must for every runner. A strong musculature protects against injuries and also running style and running economy benefit from it. With a little imagination, you can easily train strength on your usual running circuit. On the Vita Parcours. Or you can do foot gymnastics, stretching and fascia care at home in front of the TV. Or in the fitness center with equipment or in group training to groovy music.
3. Stretching helps you to be more flexible
You also have to take care of your flexibility. The older you get, the more you have to take care of it with stretching or gymnastic exercises. In ordinary running, the direction of movement is always forward, lateral and rotational movements are undesirable. For this very reason, gymnastic exercises should be incorporated from time to time, during which a torso rotation takes place, the hips are stretched or the shoulders are swung. The Vita-Parcours is ideal for this, because it provides examples of exercises. Stretching is best done after a training session and after showering. And not only the muscles of the feet, legs and hips (calves, front and back thighs, gluteus maximus) that have been strained by running, but also the shoulders and upper body.
4. Train coordinative skills
The normal runner is – to put it charitably – in most cases not a world champion in coordination. This is not surprising, since they often only started running in adulthood and do it primarily in a straight line. This keeps the variety of movement within a narrow range. For a change, take a cue from the footballers, who integrate running exercises in all variations into their training. Skipping, jumping, running sideways, short fast steps, forward backward with the coordination ladder on the ground and unaccustomed step sequences – everything that breaks the usual sequence of movements is good for you. Running drills improve not only coordination, but also running economy and body awareness; you get a feel for what it takes to run efficiently. Running technique exercises can fill an entire workout as content, such as doing a program in a meadow (barefoot), but they can also be integrated into a habitual run. And try to consciously change your running style now and then during a run (rolling over the heel, landing on the middle or forefoot). Or run for once with a particularly active use of the arms.
5. Work on speed
Speed is not a standard characteristic of an amateur runner, in fact the longer you run, the more you lose it. Speed is not a basic requirement to do well in a half marathon, for example, but it is still good for every athlete to work on their speed from time to time. It’s important to know that you don’t train speed with a “fast” 10-minute run, but only with sprints in which you’re really fast. Short, but fast, is the motto. The best way to practice such sprints is on continuous, slightly uphill terrain. That way you keep the strain on your musculoskeletal system within limits and don’t get overtaxed so quickly in terms of coordination. Speed can also be trained well on a track.
6. Determine your running speed
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate performance test – even with a simple 30-minute test run, you can break down your current performance, your running speed and thus the different speed and intensity ranges. After a ten-minute warm-up, run as consistently and as fast as you can for 30 minutes on a flat course (preferably on a 400-meter track or using a GPS sports watch that calculates the distance) and measure the kilometer distance run. With the result, you can define your average time per kilometer and set it as 100 percent of your current performance. The pace or mileage achieved in the process roughly corresponds to your anaerobic threshold. Aerobic / anaerobic threshold is the term used to describe the smooth transition at which there is no longer enough oxygen available to maintain the metabolic processes in the body. The individual pace ranges or intensity levels can be calculated based on the following percentages:
- Intensity level 1 / tempo range very slow = 130-150%;
- Intensity level 2 / tempo range slow = 120-130%;
- Intensity level 3 / tempo range medium-fast = 110-115%;
- Intensity level 4 / tempo range fast = 100-110%;
- Intensity level 5 / tempo range very fast = 97-100%.
7. Vary the level of effort
What you strain, you train. This rule is also valid for the heart. 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 will soon run out of steam. Therefore, the following applies: Different degrees of exertion, like the ingredients for a menu, form the basics of endurance training. Only a varied composition of intensities ensures that new stimuli can be set again and again – an important prerequisite for a continuous increase in performance. The number of effort levels into which the training should be divided varies. For beginners, three levels are sufficient (easy, medium and hard), with five intensity levels you can train in a more differentiated way. In practice, you can either do a continuous workout at one level and the next one at another level, or you can vary the levels within a workout using forms such as ride play or interval training.
Jumps are part of the usual training repertoire for very few runners, as many think of their training primarily in terms of miles run. But that’s a shame, especially if you run a lot and want to get faster. 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: They are not quite as easy and dynamic as the jumps look. A well-prepared musculoskeletal system is therefore an important prerequisite. Strengthen your body in advance, especially your core, and train the muscles specific to running. Start with the basics and slowly increase the duration and intensity of the exercises.
9. Challenge your mind
If you want to perform at your best in a race, you have to leave your comfort zone – and that’s definitely uncomfortable. In technical jargon, this is called tempo toughness. What is meant by this is the bite and the ability to endure longer and longer time units at the limit without giving in. Such workouts are not only physically but also mentally demanding, because they require a certain amount of effort to overcome and challenge your “inner weakness”. For the right “bite”, various forms of training are suitable, such as fast endurance running, driving game and intervals.
10. Complete hill runs
Hill runs offer the perfect opportunity to integrate the factors of strength and stamina into running. And because the intensity is kept high, especially uphill, hill runs are very demanding for the muscles and the cardiovascular system ( make sure to include enough recovery time afterwards), but not for the musculoskeletal system. The principle is simple. During the load time it goes uphill, then (depending on the terrain) either a break walking or very easy trotting back to the starting point.
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