With the running season fast approaching, now is the optimal time to consider how best to approach the race of your choice. It is easy to get caught up in the buzz of training, especially if it’s your first big race so here are a few handy tips to help get your feet off the ground.
Tip 1: It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Beginner running programs vary in length however, 12-14 weeks is the general guide for a novice half marathon. It’s important to start slow and gradually build up the distance you run each week so as not to burn out before the race. Aim to complete 2-3 running sessions per week: 1 x sprint/interval, 1 x short tempo run (working on your ideal ‘race pace’) and 1 x long slow run (where you build up the kilometres in your legs). If the thought of running 10km in the first week for your long run seems a bit daunting, try set time goals instead eg: 30-40mins continuous and build from here each week.
Strength training is an important part of any training program, especially for runners and yet it is often forgotten about! 1-2 whole body strength sessions across the week has proven to be extremely beneficial in giving runners an edge come race day. Unilateral lower limb exercises such as split squats, calf raises, glute bridges and hip thrusts are more sport specific than their bilateral counterparts and require full body stabilisation in order to complete effectively. Maintaining good posture is another key component for long distance running. Incorporating some postural exercises such as band pull aparts and single arm rows into your strength sessions can help alleviate fatigue in the shoulders and upper back area, allowing for more ease of movement during your running arm motion.
Perhaps the most neglected component in any training regime and yet it is arguably the most important. An increased training load on your body, often results in muscle stiffness and soreness especially in the first few weeks. Hip flexors, calves and hamstrings tend to be troublesome areas for runners so regular foam rolling and stretching of these areas can help alleviate stiffness. Tightness and pain at the bottom of the foot is also a common problem in runners. Regular release of the plantar fascia using a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or frozen water bottle can help alleviate this tightness. This can be achieved by finding a tight spot under the bottom of your foot and pressing down with your body weight. Hold this for 30secs-1min and then slowly work your way around the sole of your foot.