City 2 Surf is just weeks away, but if you haven’t started training for it yet, never fear. I have a few tips for you.
Running is a great activity because it is something that most people can do regardless of their fitness level. However if you are one of those runners who just shows up to race day with little to no prep, odds are that you may be making one of the many running mistakes that may leave you injured, or make the journey tougher than it needs to be.
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Flow Athletic Founder, Ben Lucas shares some last-minute tips for you.
DON’T OVER TRAIN
It is important to run and build up your kilometres gradually in the lead up to race day, especially because you need to strengthen your Achilles and ligaments which are harder to target in the gym. Having said that, overtraining can still kill your performance.
Too often I hear of people signing up for a half marathon (for example) and then deciding that to prepare for it, they need to be running around 22KMs in each training session. After all, practicing that distance in training will mean that you can definitely achieve it come race day right? Well… not necessarily.
If you haven’t run for a while, don’t go from ‘0 to hero’ on day one, even if you left your training to the last minute. Odds are you will hurt yourself and will never make it to race day.
Here are a few tips to remember:
– Don’t train every day. In fact, have at least 1-2 recovery days per week. Nobody should be training 7 days a week!
– You don’t need to run your goal race distance during training. Over a 3-month period start building up your kms slowly. If you left it to the last minute, still take things slowly
– Do ‘run specific strength training’ to ensure your muscles, fascia etc. are strong enough to last the distance. If your muscles and joints are prepared and you have worked on any imbalances then you are in a better position to avoid injury come race day.
– Don’t train too hard in the days before the event as you may end up sore and tired. Taper off the week before the event
Vary your training
Just doing a long run day will get boring fast, it is also not the most productive use of your time. I suggest completing at least one fartlek training day (speed play) and a hill sprint-training day too.
Fartlek training, also known as speed play, is when you jog or walk (take it easy) for a certain period of time and then you all out sprint. It’s a great way to stimulate neuromuscular changes that will ultimately help you boost your speed and improve your stride. It’s also useful to practice as you will probably need to overtake a lot of people during the fun run so you may as well practice speeding up in training.
On hill sprint day, try to find a hill that is around 100m high and do around 5-6 sprints in the session.
It’s good to practice hills because they help improve your lactic threshold. Furthermore, if you train on a flat track all the time, and then the race track has a 2km hill in it, it’s going to hurt! You may as well prepare for this in training.
I am a big fan of strength training for runners, but make sure that you are doing exercises that are relevant for runners as doing redundant exercises will be a waste of your time.
The exercises that you want to focus on are those that recruit muscles, joints and movements that directly translate to endurance. You also want to do a lot of one leg exercises as when you run, you are on one leg at a time. By strengthening these areas, they should also help with injury prevention and stability throughout the ankle, knee, hip, core and shoulder.
Some good exercises include Romanian Deadlifts, Squats and Weighted Step Ups.
You also want to ensure that you have a strong core so that you can maintain good posture for the duration of the run.
Don’t eat anything unusual in the lead up to the run or the day before. Eat foods that you are used to and foods that make you feel good as you don’t want to get an upset stomach mid race!
Diet is also important because the fastest way to a burn out is by not keeping tabs on nourishing and rehydrating your body. Food is like fuel, if you don’t have enough of it in the tank, how can you expect your body to perform?
Make sure you are eating lots of antioxidant rich foods such as fruit and vegetables as well as good fats, proteins and carbs. You may want to seek out a healthcare professional to help you with a meal plan, especially if you are burning a lot more energy than you are used to with your training.
Keep hydrated in the week leading up to the event because the last thing you need is to feel dehydrated on race day. Also make sure you hydrate during and after every training session!
What you take from your body you need to give back to your body and this is in the form of nutrition, sleep, stretching and massage.
I personally love to book in recovery sessions around light swimming, yoga and stretching. In the lead up to an event I also like to get massages (although avoid getting them the week of the event in case it leaves you sore!).
Wear the right gear!
Not all feet were created equal and therefore not every shoe is going to be suitable for everyone. Just because your friend has the latest style of Asics (which incidentally are a great running shoe), doesn’t mean that the shoe style will suit you.
When shopping for a shoe, make sure you go to a store that has experts who can guide you, or better still, have the capability to do the footprint test and point you in the right direction when it comes to brands and style.
In general, there are three types of feet- flat feet, high- arched and neutral. Your sports shoe expert can help you identify which category that you fall into and help you find the right size.
Same goes for clothing. When you’re running a longer distance, it pays to have the right gear or you are going to get very uncomfortable very quickly.
Try to avoid clothes that have scratchy seams and tops that don’t breathe and hold onto sweat. Moisture wicking fabrics are best as they can help keep you dry and help avoid chafing. An appropriate supporting sports crop top is necessary too.
Also make sure you have good socks that fit. Avoid running in toe socks and socks that are oversized as you may end up with blisters.
Compression can be a good option to run in as it keeps the muscle warm, often has minimal seams and sticks to the body so you don’t have to worry about it riding up on you.
Also beware not to overdress. It’s often cool in the morning when the running festival starts, so wear a top or singlet and bring a light jacket that you can throw away or easier tie around your waist.
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