4 running training tips to improve your races – from 5k to half marathons
Apply these four running training tips to all elements of your running. You’ll notice more than a difference in your training, but in races too!
Number 1: Consistency is key in running training
If there’s one thing to focus on during your running training periods, it would be to be as consistent as possible. This is in terms of your regularity of runs, your progression, and your rolling training periods. There are no shortcuts when it comes to long-distance running. The only way that you can really reach your full potential, is through consistently working on yourself – whichever area of development that may be.
Do you have consistency in your running training? Can you say that you regularly do the below?
Schedule days off
Are your days off planned or are they sporadic, and just when you feel like it? Scheduling regular days off from running training (yes that includes strength sessions!) ensures that your body has the time it needs to recover from all the training. Not factoring in this recovery can contribute heavily to illness and injury, let alone unsuccessful performances.
Consistently show up
Consistently showing up to the variety of running training you have planned will help you to develop as a whole. So whether you have a long run planned for your next sessions, intervals, or even practice races, complete your running training consistently to see the best results. If you haven’t tried low heart-rate running yet, now is the time to try!
Keep the same goal in mind
Are you working towards the same goal each time you turn up to your sessions? Your goal, whether it be a race, a certain time, or distance, you should have that in mind every time you put your trainers on. This will help you to avoid missing sessions and will get you motivated when the training gets a little tougher.
Number 2: Practice your nutrition BEFORE the race
Just as you wouldn’t run your race with new trainers, you also shouldn’t try a new method of nutrition on race day. You’d be surprised how many people don’t practice their race nutrition and suffer for it on the day. And to be clear, eating a banana in your kitchen is not the same as eating it when you’re tired at 10 miles!
It’s also important to think of your nutritional plan before, during and after your race, as your body will need different components during these stages.
Before you toe the line
When you’re getting ready for a race or a hard session, you should always lead with carbohydrates. You can only store between 400 and 500 grams of carbohydrates in your muscles which is enough for 1-3 hours of exercise, depending on the intensity you are performing at.
Therefore, your pre-race nutrition should be a case of topping up these carbohydrate stores as well as blood glucose levels. You should practice eating this nutrition before some of your runs in the lead-up to your race. This will ensure that you have got the timing right, as well as the amount of carbohydrates correct. Eating this carbohydrate-filled meal should take place about 3-4 hours before you start your race. So getting up early and eating might need some practice too!
Some examples of pre-race meals: bagel, peanut butter, bananas, fruit juice, rice, pasta, lean meat, potatoes,
During your running race
Research shows that athletes should eat between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour for runs lasting 1 to 2.5 hours, to keep those carbohydrate stores topped up. When it comes to the specifics of what to eat during a race, the best method really is dependent on the individual.
Carbohydrates can be consumed as chews or gels, as carbohydrate-based drinks or as real food options such as a sandwich. For long-distance runners, the most common is some form of energy gels due to their ease of carrying – but it really is what works for you!
You also mustn’t forget about your hydration levels during your race so this should also be part of your running training sessions. Long easy runs provide the perfect opportunity!
Number 3: Don’t neglect your strength training
Consistency should also be the key focus of your strength training as part of your running training. Runners often neglect their strength training, which leads to their form suffering once they get tired.
Here are three tips to help prevent you from neglecting your strength training:
- Gym with a buddy – whether you have another runner friend that is working towards similar goals, or whether you have a local gym session that is put on in your local park, a social setting can increase your motivation.1. Understand the movements – learning the ‘why’ behind your exercises can aid in understanding the importance of each movement and how it helps you will help you see the value in it.
- Have a plan – if you’re plan-orientated, having a separate one for your running-related exercises can help you to stay on track with the exercise progressions and targeted sessions.
- Get help from a professional – if you really get into your strength training you might get value from a coach, mentor or accountability partner, in the form of a personal trainer or instructor.
Number 4: Value recovery within your running training
Although sometimes seen as the ‘bland’ bit of running training, your recovery methods can be the difference between a PB and a poorly performed race. Or worse, ignore these recovery steps and potentially suffer from over-training injuries.
Here are our top tips for recovery between your training sessions:
• If the interval session says walk, walk.
• Rehydrate after sessions to replenish the sweat lost
• Refuel during (if necessary) and post-session to replenish burnt energy
• Ensure you are getting enough sleep – recommended is 8 hours
• Do not skip cool down
• Ice baths can be beneficial to reduce DOMs and allow the vessels to contract and flush away waste and lactic acid build-up
Abide by these themes within your running training and you’ll be on track for a very positive race day! Let us know how you get on by DMing or tagging us on social media!