May 19, 2013 - 10:48 AM
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Running Tips - Other Factors
Running Tips - Other Factors
All you really need to do is just run for fun and enjoyment. However if you want to race and get faster then thinking about it a bit can help. The major factors affecting running performance (VO2max, Anaerobic Threshold,Aerobic Endurance and Efficiency) were mentioned in the 'Running Basics' handout. There are also a myriad of other factors which can bear on your ultimate performance. This handout, in no particular order, will attempt to discuss some of these minor factors.
Glycogen(sugar) is the bodies most efficient source of fuel. A primary source of this in our diets is Carbohydrate. It has been found that if we deplete this, say going on a long fast run, then reduce our exercise and eat plenty of carbohydrate then the body will over compensate and store extra glycogen. Some runners in long events will carbo load to make sure their glycogen stores are fully topped up just before a long race.
To get better at running you really need to run. However with multi sports, triathlons etc all the vogue what are the benefits for running if you crosstrain with another sport? Firstly there is little real benefit if you are well trained. Cycling can help by strengthening opposing leg muscles thereby avoiding injury. Cycling uphill has some cross over with hill running. Weight training can also strengthen opposing leg muscles, strengthen stomach muscles and the upper body although this may or may not affect performance. Swimming can help with recovery from pavement pounding and hard sessions.
Running diaries are a significant potential performance enhancer. Analysis of well filled in diaries can lead to understanding of how you improve, and also show how to avoid injury. They should include course details, environmental conditions and how you felt. It is also important to record resting pulse and your weight. Differences of more than 10% in these from day to day may be a cause for concern. There are now many software packages which can make the recording and analysis much less of a chore.
Diet can have a significant effect on your running and your life. A healthy diet means that you will be able to train harder and recover faster. Generally we eat too much fat and not enough carbohydrate. As carbohydrates are the best source of fuel we should be sure to get plenty. It is also important to have a balanced diet which includes fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain most of the vitamins and minerals which are required to efficiently burn glycogen to create energy.
These drinks (Powerade, Gatorade etc) contain about 5-10% of sugar plus some salts. They are useful for replacing lost glycogen from the body and in concentrations below 10% can be absorbed by the stomach during exercise. Even in Ironman type events most exercise specialists are saying that rather than consume food you should drink a glucose replacement drink as the absorption is far quicker. At all distances they increase the time to glycogen depletion or 'hitting the wall'.
Best recovery occurs during periods of inactivity like sleep. It is important to get around 8 hours sleep a night and if you exercise alot then a nap during the day is helpful. Meditation can also help to increase the restfulness as it can decrease stress and involuntary muscular activity. It can also calm the mind which is the major cause of stress and muscular activity.
After exercise followed by repair some muscle fibres will lock together increasing the effort required to recruit them. In extreme cases hard (and sometimes painful) knots will occur. Constant daily stress which causes tension in the muscles will also have the same effect. Massage helps to separate these locked together fibres and create free flowing muscle contractions. Both self massage and getting a professional deep massage is possible however self massage may not be deep enough.
The training program most of us have used is called a complex training program. It does a little bit of all types of training in each 7-14 day period. Periodisation is used by people who have a longer time frame in which to prepare (eg 1 year) or a particular long term goal event (eg a marathon). It involves doing increasingly harder training aiming to peak at the goal event. The program is separated into periods which have a particular focus. An example of the periods could be Base Building, Strength Work, Speed Work, Taper, Race.
Many people today are switching to the pulse monitor as the cheapest form of coach they can get. It is ideal for telling us when and how hard to train. It can indicate if we are better off taking a day off or whether we should be pushing ourselves harder. Most models today are wireless, include a stop-watch, have an upper and lower alarm and can record times during your training session. They are also useful during races to keep you below the anaerobic threshold.
Human Beings are social animals. If we do an activity and combine it with some form of social interaction we are likely to continue doing it. There are several groups for the runner to meet like minded people. In most cities there are several Running, several Triathlon clubs and some popular Hash House Harrier groups. Running clubs are also good places for advice, motivation and competition.
The correct shoes can help significantly with both training and racing. You should go to a shoe store which specialises in Running shoes. They will then be able to fit you out correctly for shoes. You may roll your feet outward or inward (supination, pronation) or require orthotics (plastic inserts which adjust your footstrike). A good shoe store is the best place to determine this. Remember when buying shoes always take you old ones along so they can be examined for signs of supination or pronation. Some people also like to race in light weight shoes called racing flats. They make your feet feel lighter but don't give enough protection for daily training.
Treadmills are not only for running in poor weather. A good treadmill which can go fast enough is one of the best ways of doing interval training. It offers excellent pace control and allows both running form and speed to be worked on. You should set the grade to 1-2% for it to properly simulate outdoor conditions.
The lighter you are the faster you can run. This is assuming you have a healthy diet and are eating enough food then the lower your body fat the less weight you have to carry with each step. World class runners have body fats of 5%(Men) or 10%(Women). A good level is between 10-15% for men and 15-20% for women.
The weather can significantly effect race performance. Although you can run at most low temperatures as soon as the temperature starts to rise above 25 degrees Celsius then some degradation in performance occurs. Be very careful when training as well and if possible avoid training on extremely hot days. Remember fluid intake is of paramount importance.
There is alot of arguments both for and against Weight Training as an adjunct to running. The proponents say that it increases your all-round strength and so you can go faster. The naysayers argue that many world class performers do not weight train and still win. Weight training can be helpful in avoiding injuries by strengthening opposing muscles to the ones used in running. If you get runners knee then take up weight training to strengthen the quadriceps.
If you have a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables then you may not need supplements. There is some arguments that say that heavy exercisers need more vitamins. They use more oxygen, creating more free radicals which need to be purged by antioxidants. If you are a believer in this then the Vitamins to take are C,E and beta carotene.
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