So you took the deep breath and walked into a expert running store and were fantastically bamboozled by a whole world of running jargon and very helpful staff informing you that perhaps you ever so slightly ‘overpronated’ and required a mild ‘medial post’ in your trainers . . . and you possibly thought 'help!'
And now you are at home looking at the shoes as they dazzle you in their iridescent multicoloured rainbow of new shoe glow . . . you know that running is one of the most powerful forms of exercise you can do, but how the hell do you go about it?
To get the most from your new running shoes and the beautiful sport that is running, LGN recommend you follow our jargon free - LGN 3 step philosophy.
Think custard without the lumps.
This is the word that should be in the foremost of your mind throughout your running journey, this above all else is the 'secret' to running success.
Your mind and body need to acclimatise to this new body movement otherwise known as running.
Your connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) need to slowly adjust to new stress and required range of movement and your mind needs to feel excitement and not dread by the thought of running.
We need to get you out and about running 3 to 5 times per week, BUT the key is that you need to finish every single run feeling that you could have run further or faster . . . and we need to bottle that feeling.
For many people this feeling will only be able to be retained if they run no more than 15 or 20 mins on each occasion or perhaps walk / jogging to start, feel free to vary the route to keep it interesting, but no more than what you have done previously.
The normal risk is that people (especially men on January 1st) feel compelled to run faster and or further with each run – forget it! Consistency is what we aim for, simple consistency.
We normally recommend that from no previous running you will require 10 – 12 weeks of very low-level consistent running before your body will slowly be able to adapt and make required changes to allow your running to progress.
So after 10 – 12 weeks of running where you feel you can do a bit more and or go quicker (but without doing it) – you are able to move onto the next step.
Start to dictate to the run, no longer will the run boss you
We now need to slowly demonstrate that we are in control of the run and the run is not in control of us.
Two key running sessions:
1. The speed play session
You may well think you have only two speeds – the classic slow jog and the mad-as-hell sprint for the bus, but we are going to learn all the various shades of pace that lie in between and we are going to ensure you can maintain them for longer.
If your previous runs have been up to 20 mins – we need now look at 5 mins initial warm up, with 10 mins in the middle where we play with the pace ever so slightly. Think of the gears in a car, 1st gear is your slowest jogging pace and we want you to start exploring the very slight step up to 2nd gear, hold for maybe only 30 seconds and then give yourself 30 seconds recovery in 1st gear and repeat this for 10 mins and then have 5 mins cool down.
If you can do the above ‘session’ well done, you have just completed your first ‘Fartlek’ session – another geeky running phrase to add to your burgeoning vocabulary.
Over the course of the next 12 weeks, keep adapting the above session until you are able to discover 5th gear, but always ensure your 1st gear recovery is indeed 1st gear – it is more important that you maintain the original recovery pace than try to run quicker in 5th gear.
Over the course of 12 weeks you may also extend how long you are running for . . . but LGN’s general rule of thumb is, think how much longer you wish to add to your run and then cut it by 50%. We still need to maintain that post-run feeling that you can go further and faster.
2. The tempo run
Very simple – use a tried and tested run loop, and once every other a week you are going to run it against the clock and try to go ever so slightly quicker each week.
The important aspect is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t manage to go quicker every other week, but the aim to be able to identify very subtle pace changes and begin to find your physiological boundaries.
However, the key to the Tempo run is that you are only allowed to run it at approx 60% - 75% of your maximum – as a rough guide we at LGN say that 75% is that point when you can still give short answers while running, this is not flat out running and it is crucial that you remain in control, relaxed neck and shoulders. And each week ensure that you don’t try harder than 75%.
If you are running 4 times per week, only 2 of these runs should incorporate the above sessions, the remainder should be steady and as per in the consistency phase.
It’s all about learning control and taking control of the run.
Let the smugness begin
This is when you really start to enjoy your running and physically begin to get the most from your time invested.
Physically this phase includes:
1. Slowly be able to run twice as long as you could in the initial consistency phase, so what was 20 mins is now 40 mins – with the all-important caveat that you are still ending the run feeling like you could have done more
2. Listening to your body, listen to the sound of your breathing and listen to your foot strike, this provides you with an invaluable understanding of your body’s own metronome and thus providing you with confidence to know how much more you can push the pace and yet also stay in control.
3. Holding and utilising 5th gear within your Fartlek and being able to return to a nice frisky 1st gear.
4. Consistently be able to run your timed 20 min loop quicker and still not going beyond 75%.
Mentally, it includes:
1. Looking forward to each run – due to the variety and knowledge that you (all together now) ‘always finish the run knowing you could do more’.
2. Aiming to take part in your first organised fun run or race with a view to making a mark in the sand by setting a PB (Personal Best – yet more jargon) for an established distance, e.g. 5km, 10km, etc.
3. Knowledge that if you have a small injury niggle, you can return to the consistency phase of the training plan and be back in no time.
4. Be able to switch off your iPod, MP3 and/or GPS system, have empathy with your body and run without additional stimulation.
5. Knowing that you can miss the odd run or session because you now have a consistent approach and have now slowly entwined running into your life.
In summary by this point you should be still aiming to run 4 – 5 times per week, 2 of these sessions should be steady pace and slightly longer, and at least 2 other sessions should include playing with your gears and also tempo. But by now you should be slowly adapting the sessions to have slightly more intensity or length. But always being mindful that you need to finish every run feeling you could have done more or run it faster!
LGN’s Consistency, Control and Confidence apply to all runners, from international running legends to people starting out on their running journey.
Running is beautifully simple, keep these basic principles in mind and your progress will be something special.
PS - Repeat after us - your new running mantra ‘Finish each run feeling that you could have run further or faster’
Do a runner with LGN