For those of you who enjoy running as part of your fitness regime, consider following these simple guidelines when constructing your running program.
- If you are new to running, your aim could be to run continuously for 20 minutes at the end of an eight week program. Start by alternating running and walking. Gradually build up the time you are running and reduce the time you are walking over the 8 weeks until you reach the full 20 minutes of running. Be sure to add some time walking before and after to warm up and cool down.
- Include an interval session at least once a week.
- Increase your total mileage by 10% each week.
- Every four weeks reduce total mileage for the week by 25% to prevent overtraining and injuries caused by overuse.
- Every three months take a week off completely to allow for complete recovery from the previous months training.
- Make sure you have a post-run protein recovery shake within 10 to 30 minutes of finishing your run. I would recommend you choose a quality protein supplement like Sunwarrior's protein blend.
- If muscle definition is your goal or you have limited time, include more high intensity interval sessions instead of long, slow distance sessions. The long, slow distance sessions are not the best choice for muscle definition.
- Have a long term goal, but have mini goals spaced out at regular intervals to keep motivation high. (These are called mesocycles.)
- Include easy days as well as hard days in your plan.
- If time permits, include some cross training in your plan to prevent injuries caused by overuse.
- If possible, include weight training sessions in your plan. Weight training has been shown to significantly improve running times by developing several key factors and muscles involved in running, and can help prevent injuries too. Include the squat and tibias anterior exercises for best running performance improvement.
- If you want to introduce barefoot running into your training, start by running one kilometer a week and build up your mileage very slowly to avoid injury. Standard running shoes have a heel to toe differential of 12 mm. Barefoot running, as the name suggests, has a 0mm heel to toe differential. If this is the first time you are trying this type of running, it will put considerable stress on your Achilles' tendon, (changing from a 12mm drop to a 0mm drop), increasing the risk of injury.
Give these basic principles a try when you’re constructing a basic running program and watch yourself improve.
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