Having a running coach is not a privilege reserved for professional runners, whose livelihoods depend on completing the correct training in the correct manner at the correct timing. Hiring a running coach can seem like an extravagance for “everyday” runners. Yet recreational athletes can actually benefit even more from the attention, knowledge, and guidance of a coach as they do not have the time and resources available to them to focus purely on training as a professional athlete may.
But what can a running coach get you that a free online training plan can’t? To be honest, so many things!
A running coach is part exercise physiologist, psychologist, motivator, calming influence, accountability partner, instructor and educator.
Because training for specific distances is much more than running every day, a coach will build you an individualised training plan. Running can be very scientific, building different biological systems in your body so that you can optimally train. A coach won’t increase mileage too quickly or have you run too hard too soon. A coach will keep you in check to ensure you have enough recovery to turn around and nail the next workout. A coach will ensure your plan progresses in such a way that you should reach you’re A-race in prime condition.
As you are paying a coach, you will feel more inclined to complete your training as you know someone is watching on. You’ll be less inclined to skip that run when you know the coach will be checking in!
Coaches will be honest and help you with your strengths and weaknesses. Too often, runners are very hard on themselves. Your coach should and will see your strengths and capabilities and remind you of them when you are feeling less confident.
A coach should be there to help you choose your goal. If you are having trouble figuring out your next race, a coach will be a sounding board for you to go over your options, helping you to clarify the best race for you.
So if you feel that you aren’t fast enough or accomplished enough to need a coach, that is a clear sign you do need a coach!
Strong leg muscles are crucial for running fast, but many runners underestimate the importance of upper body strength for good running performance.
Your arm swing influences every movement from your hips down. If you swing your arms faster, this automatically increases your step frequency. Slow and long swings produce the opposite effect: this is due to the fact that our arm and leg movements are coordinated by our brain.
The correct arm technique makes your running form efficient. However, you can’t run with optimal form until you build up your upper body. Today, I'm focusing on the biceps. All you need for this exercise is a looped band that you've probably gotten from a phsyio but that can also easily be bought online. I'll add a link in the comments.
In a kneeling position, wrap the band around your leg. Grab the band with the hand on the same side.Keep your upper body tall and shoulders relaxed.
Pull your hand up towards your shoulder against the resistance of the band. Your upper arm should stay stationary as you pull on the band, keeping your elbow underneath your shoulder and close to your body.
Release the hold and return to the starting position. Do 10-15 repetitions on one side, then switch to the other side.
A strong upper body is essential for guaranteeing an efficient transfer of energy from your body to your legs. Without this, the proper arm technique cannot provide optimal support to your legs. An efficient running form helps you run faster and expend less energy.
I may be biased (just slightly!!) but I think running is awesome!! Here are only 16 reasons why…I’m sure there’s more!
Why are strong glutes so important for runners?
Well, first let’s look at the basic biomechanics of running.
The glutes are made up of the Gluteus maximimus, medius and minimus. Their names indicate the size of the muscle. When we run, the gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, or raising your leg behind your thigh and knee behind you after pushing off with your foot. Good hip extension creates the energy of that leg swing into forward motion. Thus, Gluteus Maximus has more to do with the propulsion and deceleration jobs, whilst Gluteus Medius and Minimus have a lot more to do with stability.
Now that we know what the muscles are, we can see what a big role those muscles those muscles play when we run. Weak glutes can lead to the following injuries:
Strengthening gluteus maximus is easy enough as these are exercises that can be done in the gym with weights. Of course, Medius and Minimus are strengthened at the same time as they are stabilising maximus.
Watch out for my videos on my website and on Instagram and Facebook showing you how to strengthen all of your glute muscles!
Have you ever seen a runner late (or even early!!) in a race; slouched over and looking exhausted? Do you think that is helping them to run better? I'm sure you don't, and you would be right! Strong runners need a strong back!
But why? Well, let’s break it down.
To avoid the dreaded slouch:.
In order to maintain a good, upright posture, runners need to work on strengthening their backs. Staying upright is more comfortable and efficient than curving over whilst running. And your race-day pics look better.
To stabilise the hips:
We all know that most injuries come from the hips. A strong back keeps the hip stable, which in turn reduces your risk of injury. And nobody wants to be injured!!
The arms (and back) lead the legs;
As your legs fatigue, it pays to swing your arms faster. This will enable the legs to turn over faster. You can only do this if you have a good upright posture that is created by having a strong back.
You can breathe better:
A strong back keeps you upright and enables you to open up your chest to breathe easier.
In order to maintain a good, upright posture,Runners need to work on strengthening their backs. Staying upright is more comfortable and efficient than curving over whilst running. And your race-day pics look better!
It seems these days that a marathon is no longer enough, now everyone wants to run an ultra-marathon. What is an ultra-marathon you ask? Well, basically any run that is longer than a 42.2km marathon. So yes, a 45km race is an ultra-marathon! But who wants to only do 45km? In these days of less is more, with ultras, more really is more!!
The most popular ultra-running distance is 100km, but you can also opt for 100 miles, 200 miles or track/loop races that can go for anywhere from 6-48 hours…sometimes even 6 days. What fun I hear you say! Indeed, it is, but only if you put in the training. Yes, there is always a caveat.
Training for an ultra needn’t be too daunting. If you are already a runner, it will simply involve a few modifications to your training plan. If you are not a runner, best get onto a couch to 5k program first, and then the ultra world will beckon!
Training for an ultra does not require absurd amounts of time running. You will need to run about 5-6 days per week, however. You will need to do some higher intensity speed work (even though it is an ultra, you still need to teach the body to run fast…in case you need to sprint past a competitor!!), some easy days to shake out the legs and build the leg/tendon/mitochondrial strength of the body and one to two long runs per week to build your endurance and mental strength. For a 100k race, the long run really does not have to be more than 50k or thereabouts. Where you run this long run depends on your races; if your race is mountainous run it in the mountains, if it’s on the track, run it on the track! Easy! If you are doing a 100 or 200 miler, you may need to do back-to-back long runs to teach your body to run on tired legs. This means a long run Saturday, followed by another on Sunday. The weekday runs need not be more than an hour to ninety minutes each session.
Long runs are also a great time to test your nutrition. This is as individual as the runner themselves. Some runners can run on gels alone, other use gels and chews, others use these with some real food in the mix. The longer the race, the more likely you will want to eat some real food (vegemite sandwiches, vegie soup, potatoes, etc). A 100-mile race can last for anywhere up to 30-40 hours! A 200 considerably more! Just remember, running diverts blood flow away from the stomach, leading to the possibility of ‘gastric distress’, a very real and painful condition. Hence the importance of testing what works for you!
Another component of training is strength work. Once again, this does not need to be too time-consuming, but 2-3 times per week is a good idea. Each session will be about 30-45 minutes and will focus on upper and lower body strength. Strength work keeps your body robust and helps you become a more balanced athlete.
The final, and most important, part of training is sleep and rest. Yes! Sleep is when the body recovers and re-builds muscle. Rest is when the boy improves. Training breaks down the body, sleep and general rest is when the body gets stronger. Neglect this aspect of training at your peril!
So there you have it, training for an ultra in a nutshell. Running an ultra is an amazing feeling. The sense of accomplishment when you complete this monumental effort is beyond belief. Get out there and get running! You’ll thank me later!
I write programs to help you reach your goals, ultras or not! I would love to help you!
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Hi and welcome to the Peak Endurance podcast and blog. My name is Isobel Ross and I am the coach at Peak Endurance Coaching. On today’s podcast I am going to discuss how runners can keep in control of their food and alcohol consumption over the Christmas and New Year Season.
Now I know we like to think that as runners we can have free reign on all the food. However, sadly that is not really the case. I wish it were!!! But it’s even worse when you’re injured like me!! Of course, I’m not saying for you to restrict yourself but just be sensible.
1. Don’t skip meals just so you can pig out later: Be careful not to restrict your eating during the day in order to pre-emptively compensate for a night of indulging. This approach can actually backfire because it can lead to overeating later. Rather than skipping meals, stick to your regular routine to maintain satiety (that is, don’t let yourself go hungry)! Just make sure that the food you are eating is healthy! No need to indulge all day!
2. Have a last-minute healthy snack before you head out: Make sure you’re not starving when you head out for the evening. Eat a small, quick serving of fruit, vegetables or a small handful of nuts before you leave the house to stave off the hunger. Healthy snacking before a cocktail party can prevent overeating party food that, more often than not, is calorically dense. And not only calorie dense but nutritionally deficit. Also, drink lots of water during the day before you go out as this will help you to feel fuller.
3. Use a small plate to trick yourself. Whether it’s a buffet-style dinner party or a cocktail party (although that normally entails a napkin!) with small nibbles, a small plate can make you think you are eating more than you’re actually eating.
4. Drink in moderation or not at all. Okay, I put that last bit in knowing not many people would follow it, including myself! However, it is true that alcohol, simply put, is empty calories. Cocktails have a lot of added sugar (and fat, if you’re drinking egg nog!) on top of the alcohol itself. If wine is your drink of choice, ask for a wine spritzer. And one more tip: pace yourself! Drink slowly, and remember to alternate a glass of water for each alcoholic drink. Your body will thank you the next day!
5. Choose your calories thoughtfully. Christmas and New Year parties present an opportunity to indulge in a large variety of decadent snacks and delicious desserts that you would not normally ever consider. Don’t necessarily eat everything that is on offer! Indulge in what actually appeals to you and savour and enjoy what you are eating. Be mindful of the experience. Don’t just scarf.
6. Keep up your training, even if only at a maintenance level. Even though the weather may be hot and all we really feel like doing is relaxing in the air conditioning, don’t let your exercise routine fall by the wayside. Head out early in the morning for a run, or hit the gym. Knowing you have to train early will also stop you drinking too much the night before too! There is not many things worse than running with a hangover.
7. Enjoy Christmas. Do not forget to enjoy this wonderful time of the year. Don’t feel guilty about celebrating with friends and family. You don’t want to be the kill joy at the party or family gathering. Slowly savour each bite or each sip of drink, and listen to your body when it tells you you’re full!
I hope these tips help you a bit, but remember to not be too hard on yourself if you over-indulge. As long as it’s not a regular thing, it’s ok.
I have had so much fun starting this podcast and blog. It is something I have been wanting to do for years, and I finally decided to bite the bullet and do it. I have to thank Daniel Farrugia for giving me the confidence to go for it. I really appreciate everyone who listens and supports my podcast. Subscribing is a great way to support the podcast. Also, as I keep saying rating and reviewing it really helps too. I have had a couple more five-star reviews, one from Peekshimmer and Screechola . Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it! These reviews help the podcast to grow and be heard by more people. Also, positive reviews gives me greater leverage to get top athletes and experts on the podcast!
Once again, thank you so much everyone for all your support. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas!
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This blog is where I will share interesting and informative articles related to all aspects of training. If you have any topics you would like covered, email me and I will work on it!