XL TriFit Run
Let me start by dispelling a myth. You do not have to be “fast” to be a runner. On the contrary, runners come in all shapes, sizes, and speeds. Being a “runner” is more about getting out and doing the activity than it is about running 80 miles per week at a 6 min/mile pace. To be a runner, there are simply two prerequisites: To enjoy running, and to get out and do it!
This section will help guide you through the process of learning to love running. Here you will learn the techniques, form, and other elements to be the best runner you can be, and most importantly, to enjoy it fully.
If you allow it, running can be a very therapeutic, healthy, and joyful activity. Let’s start with how you can learn to enjoy running!
Running is a very polarizing form of exercise. Either you love it or you hate it. It’s common to hear people say how much they loathe running. Quite often, it’s these same folks that hate it that are experiencing injuries or pain associated with running!
On the other hand, there are people that absolutely love running. They start to have withdrawals from running when they’re not able to do it. These people find great joy and peace from frequent runs.
Most of the joy from running comes from a couple of key elements:
- Attitude – You must create a positive attitude around running. Whether you think you enjoy it or not is a self fulfilling prophesy. If you truly don’t like running, you wouldn’t be here committing to a run program! So change the story you tell yourself. Begin calling yourself a runner. Once you identify as a runner, your story will begin to change!
- Form/Technique – Running with improper form can lead to all kinds of problems, from frustration, to burnout, to injury. Proper form, on the other hand, can lead to better paces at lower effort, better efficiency, reduced risk of injury, and generally a more enjoyable experience.
- Effort – One of the causes of not enjoying running is that people feel it is too painful. Pain is experience from either poor form, or too high an effort on the runs. Many people want to chase the “runner’s high”, so they go out at hard efforts and find themselves burned out after only a short period of time. Easy efforts, on the other hand, give rise to all sorts of physiological and psychological benefits, including:
- Greater energy
- Adaptation to the fat burning energy system
- Aerobic conditioning
- Better mood
- More mental focus
- Better form and technique
- Calmer attitude
- Greater endurance
In no other discipline is effort level more important than on the run. Due to the level of impact and stress on the joints, effort level has a dramatic affect on the health of our bodies. Going too hard too much can have detrimental effects on your body, which is counterproductive. No matter so many people hate running!
On the other hand, easy efforts allow us to concentrate on form, make our joints and muscles more resilient, and therefore help prevent injuries and pain from occurring. With those benefits, we feel more energized, happier, and more at peace after running.
There are a few other ways in which we can learn to enjoy running. Any combination of these can help us to change our habits, and develop a healthy new lifestyle where running becomes a joyful experience we can’t wait for, instead of a burden.
- Treat running as a meditation – As with any meditation, you want to bring calm to your mind. While running, this can be easy to accomplish as you focus intently on your breathing, your cadence, and your heart rate.
- Enjoy the world around you – If you have the opportunity to run in a place where you can appreciate nature, do so! If you travel, use running as an opportunity to see the sights.
- Don’t be a Hero – I can’t stress it enough, easy and gradual are the key! Don’t push yourself beyond the limit. Any increases in time of workout or volume per week should be increased gradually, no more than 10% per week.
- Give yourself plenty of time for recovery – Recovery is important to overall training improvements. It is during recovery where performance gains are made, not during the workout. Think about it this way, the more you recover, the fresher you will be for your next workout, and the more you will be excited to get back to it!
- Train for Time instead of Distance – This is a mental strategy to help enjoy running. For one, running for an hour sounds less daunting than running six miles. As you increase the distance, this is increasingly true. In addition, running for time allows for gradual increases in pace, which will allow you to run more miles in a given time frame than just running for distance alone.
There are three specific parts to a run, the warmup, the primary workout, and the cooldown. Each part is critically important to the overall workout.
The warmup is a gradual buildup of effort with the purpose of slowly building the aerobic effort, lubricating the joints, and loosening up the muscles. This element is very important to performance during the workout phase of the exercise. Skipping a warmup can result in potential injury, poor performance during a workout, over fatigue, and soreness post workout.
Typically, the warmup phase should be at least 10 minutes, and should increase in length the longer the workout. For example, for a 30 minutes run, a 10 minute warmup is appropriate, but for an hour run, 15-20 minutes may be more appropriate.
A good rule of thumb is to walk for a few minutes before starting the clock on your workout, then continue the warmup as the first 10-15 minutes of each workout, gradually building the pace over that time into your aerobic zone.
The primary workout phase is the meat and potatoes of the overall workout. It’s where you will be following your training purpose, which could be a steady state aerobic run, drills, speed work, pace training, or other.
The cooldown phase allows you to gradually phase down your workout. The purpose here is bring down the heart rate, maintain proper circulation (so the blood does not pool in the extremities), and flush out any lactic acid or other waste in the muscles. The cooldown provides an immediate active recovery for the workout just performed, which helps to limit soreness and fatigue so you are fresh for the next workout.
There are many different types of running workouts, and I’ll introduce a few here. Each has a specific purpose, and a time frame for when it should be incorporated into the training schedule. Most workouts that involve intensity or variability in pace are usually incorporated during the peak phase or race-specific period of training.
Easy runs can be done during any phase of training, and are beneficial in developing aerobic capacity, endurance, and building of volume. During the base phase of training, easy runs should make up the vast majority of the training load. As the name implies, easy runs are done at a pace well below your maximum aerobic heart rate (MAHR) to encourage burning of fat for energy.
Moderate, Middle Distance Runs
These are runs that are typically longer than the easy runs, but not as long as your “long” run. The pace is still under your MAHR. This encourages endurance and building of volume, and aerobic, fat burning conditioning. These are good workouts to incorporate into marathon or long distance triathlon training.
High Aerobic Runs
High aerobic runs are done at the very high end of the MAHR, and condition the body to build muscular endurance and strength. These efforts are usually held for much longer periods of time than intervals or repetitions, so they help to build speed over longer distances as well. These are good workouts for marathon and long distance triathlon training. These are excellent workouts to include in the middle to late base building phase of training, before speed workouts come in.
Speed workouts include introducing various intervals into the run to promote speed, strength, and power. These workouts are introduced in the peak phase when the body has a fully developed aerobic base, and it’s time to build the VO2 Max. Less is more with these workouts, and they should be done only 10-20% of the time during the peak phase. These workouts include paces at repetition (near all out for up to 2 minutes), Interval (3-5 minutes), and Threshold (6 minutes to 10 minutes) with appropriate recovery interval between each.
Marathon Pace Run
This run is usually done in place of a long run during a given week during the race-specific phase of marathon training. It is the equivalent of a middle distance run with a portion of the run devoted to marathon pace. It allows the body to get used to the marathon pace during a longer run, and psychologically prepares the athlete for marathon pace.
The long run is an important run for marathon or long distance triathlon training. This run provides the physiological and psychological benefits of running for long periods of time. They usually last anywhere between 1 hour and 3 hours, and help to build endurance and aerobic capacity.