New year, new you. It’s 2018 and you’re ready to tackle running seriously. Shoes are bought, Garmin’s synced, you’re psyched. If running is part of your 2018 resolution, some planning and care should be put in place before getting started.
Running is a skill that requires a capable musculoskeletal system to handle the demands placed on it over time. This post is geared towards runners who are getting started or coming out of retirement, although the concepts are important and can be applied to any experience level.
Warm-up & cool-down
This is an important piece that can be brushed off by beginners and veterans alike. What’s the point of warming up or cooling down if you’re just going out for a run? Well, lots of points.
The Running Warm-up is time carved out to:
The cool-down, defined as a low intensity exercise of short duration, starts the recovery process and shouldn’t be neglected. A cool-down jog or walk also blunts the overshooting effects (increased contractility & hyperventilation) observed at the end of an exercise bout, and decreases relative cardiac load. Important for everyone, but especially if you have a known heart condition(1).
The Run:Walk method is a tried-and-tested way to train for running that delivers improved fitness while decreasing the risk of injury. It should be the go-to method for anyone starting out, returning from injury, or even as a primary means of training.
Jeff Galloway, creator of the Run:Walk Method, Olympian, coach, and author, trains and even competes in full marathons using a run:walk method.
So - what is it?
Simply put - it’s taking walk breaks during your run. For exmaple, a 3:1 run:walk would mean you run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and repeat.
There’s genius in its simplicity. If you are just starting out or returning from injury, your body’s not ready to handle a sustained period of continuous running. If the biomechanical loads exceed what we are prepared for then we may increase our risk of injury(2).
Once the ideal ratio is found for a given distance, walk/shuffle breaks allow you to feel strong to the end while continuing to positively stress the body. Here’s the benefits: (3)
Below is a figure of Galloway’s Run:Walk. It fits a spectrum of abilities, from 7 min/mi runners to walkers.
As mentioned previously, this is also a great model to incorporate when returning from injury. All of the same concepts and benefits apply. Return to run programming for injury is a little more specific in terms of dosage and progression/regression, but it all boils down to load management and building tissue capacity.
How much, how often, and when can you progress your runs? The right answer for you is multifactorial, depending on your training age, biometrics, goal race/pace, willingness and ability to train, and more. It’s a task best left to the coach you’re working with, however if you’re working alone and just getting started, some generalizations can be made:
After a couple months you should be feeling strong and confident. Don't forget to track your progress as fitness will happen, but not overnight! Tracking will help you realize how far you've come.
Once you’re consistently run:walking every other day at volumes over 30 minutes you can start taking your training to the next level by putting together a specific training program.
If you have specific questions about your training, fill out the form below.
Some original content.