The 4 Principles of Running Success
Success can be defined in multiple ways. This is particularly true for runners. The goal could be to run a 5km race and simply finish. Another runner might be looking for a specific time to beat their personal best. What do these runners have in common? They are all trying to better themselves. The main reason for falling short of these goals, can be down to neglecting the basic principles of run training.
The main cause of injury in runners is overuse of a certain muscle group, usually the leg muscles. Overuse occurs when the body can’t recover quick enough from a workload and begins to break down.
Principle 1: Don’t Overdo It.
As a newcomer to running, you’re at a distinct advantage to the more seasoned runner. The initial fitness gains come quick and fast. The need for intensity is less than that of an experienced runner. For experienced runners, that doesn’t mean you have to kill yourself in workouts. Both groups need to train smart in order to maximize the results. I hate the phrase “No pain, no gain”. I think it’s very misleading. My trail of thought is more “train smart” than hard, to reap the rewards. So how does that translate for us runners? The 10% rule is a decent guide for initial training progression. For example, you run a total of 60 minutes or 8km for week one of training. Next week you can increase the overall time running to 66 minutes. High intensity training will break your body down faster than easy intensity running will. Either increase running time or intensity on a given week, not both. 10% doesn’t apply to everyone; you might find you can increase it more. It is, however, better to be cautious rather than overdo it. Factors like work, stress, sleep, and diet will have an effect on the level of increase.
Principle 2: Be Flexible
This is a principle that has been the hardest for me to adhere to. Running is an addictive activity as it triggers endorphins in the brain similar to some ‘A’ class drugs! No matter the circumstances, we always want to go out for a training run. Some days it will be more beneficial to take a rest day or decrease your running time. Common examples would be, a stressful day at work, coming back from illness, adverse weather conditions or a lack of sleep. If you feel overly fatigued or the weather outside is awful, choose to do your main workout on another day. Running easy when these situations arise will ensure you come back fresh for your next run. Taking one or two days off will not destroy your fitness. At the end of the day, it’s better to be consistent and happy with your training, rather than be miserable and dread your workouts. Don’t be a slave to your training plan.
Principle 3: Recover Hard
Recovery is the most overlooked and underappreciated aspect of running training. The time you spend recovering is the time that you gain strength and fitness. Without this recovery time, the body won’t benefit fully from the training stimulus, and will begin to breakdown. This goes for all levels of runners. The best day for rest days depends on the individual. For me it’s a Monday because of a heavy workload that day. For beginner runners I would recommend at least 2 days of rest per week. A recovery run (the day after a hard workout) is a form of recovery if done at the correct intensity. The pace should be conversational in nature.
Principle 4: Set Goals
A run without a purpose is a waste of time. The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. This means writing the goals down and having them somewhere visible as a reminder. An example of a goal would be, to run sub 25 minutes for the 5km by the 1st of October. This is a great medium range goal. In order to make this goal a probability you will have to set weekly goals. Something like, to run 12km for my long run or average 5 minutes for my speed reps. Each goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART).
I hope this article will help you achieve your running goals and make it a more enjoyable hobby!
Until next time,
Stephen Walter is from Ireland and holds a degree in Exercise and Health Sciences. He is a certified EHFA 3/4 Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. He is also an AAI 1 coach. Read more on his personal blog at www.thehealthheads.com.
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