There are certain guidelines that you need to know to make running easier, improve faster, and avoid injuries. Understanding, mastering, and implementing these guidelines will be of great advantage to you.
However, you must keep in mind that no truth is absolute; everything I describe here comes from years of experience and from hundreds of runners. It should be clear that what is good for many may be not be appropriate for some. Meanwhile, you must also remember that there is still much to be discovered in the runner’s world, since new contributions appear every day.
Training should always be approached as a test or a simulation, and thus not be neither intense nor overwhelming. Resistance comes with days and days of training throughout months and years; it comes with patience. Impatient and impulsive runners will most likely fail. Those who are patient, cold, calculating, careful, quiet, meditative, or good observers will achieve good results, or will at least obtain personal victories by improving their personal bests.
Start Slowly. Go at your own pace. Adapt your training to your environment and your needs. Listen to your peers; you can always learn a lot from them. Be consistent and patient. Rest so that you will assimilate your trainings. Enjoy running. Let your imagination fly while running.
1. Rest is the most important part of training. This is what allows you to assimilate all your work, avoid muscle fatigue, and prevent untimely injuries. An injury can make you lose in a week what you have improved after a month of training. For a three-hour marathon runner it would be advisable to rest two days a week and the day after each competition, as well as a minimum of four days after a marathon. Runners with times longer than three and a half hours should add an extra day of rest each week. If you feel tired or any type of muscular discomfort arises, do not hesitate to rest for an extra day. All runners who have jobs that lead to physical exhaustion should be conscious of their situation and try to rest for as long as possible. Aside from not overloading by running too many Km, they must alternate between intense and light trainings.
2. Long, slow, and steady runs are the essence of trainings for long-distance runners. They help build endurance and should be performed at moderate speeds. They result in complete oxidation of energy sources: carbohydrates and fats, with more profitability (but more slowly). Running at moderate speeds favours organic resistance in general, trains muscles to burn fats, and decreases basal pulse, making the heart more efficient.
3. Sets and reps are key to improving aerobic power and personal bests. Medium and long distance series, pace changes, strong or controlled rhythms, and slope series, help your boy get used to recycling lactate. Due to increased demand for oxygen, cardiovascular efficiency increases, the heart muscle enlarges and blood circulation to muscles increases.
4. Rhythm Changes. These are controlled speed and rhythm changes during training, which combine different speeds, intensities and distances. They are more effective if performed on different fields that include some easy slopes.
5. Variety of pace and pace exchange will result in a better preparation for the race.
6. Stretching is fundamental, and should be done after every exercise, for at least 20" per stretch. Stretching helps muscles recover from exercise, reduce overload (allowing for better drainage,) and stimulate blood circulation, allowing for a better assimilation of the exercise. Running for many Km without stretching afterwards creates an enormous muscular imbalance, which may result in injuries.
7. For good efficiency it is necessary to work regularly on your running technique. Running well means adapting technique to the personal characteristics of the runner, and is key for improving performance. We must make a distinction between efficiency (or running economy) of the long distance runner and the stride efficiency of sprinters and middle-distance runners. In long-distance runners and, especially, in marathoners, running economy must predominate.
8. Abdominal and lower back exercises help us strengthen the muscles that keep us upright and avoid back and pelvic pain. It is necessary to take the time each day you train to do four exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles and one for your lower back.
9. Strength is a basic skill that directly affects the performance of the runner. Developing this capacity accelerates muscle recovery, helps avoid muscle injuries, and is vital for improving and enhancing running technique. Improving quadriceps strength can prevent many knee injuries. Force is directly responsible for speed (more power, more speed) and a capacity easily acquired and improvable for long-distance runners.
10. Combined Training allows you to follow a parallel training without running. It consists on practicing several sports each week. Aside from running, it is advisable to bike, swim, hike or walk long distances. These sports modalities, which are aerobic, allow you to rest from the running routine. Their number can increase according to the athlete’s skill on other sports which, although less aerobic, are important for strengthening: tennis, squash, paddle, basketball, football, rowing, canoeing, judo etc.. These should be scheduled for one day where you are not training for too long or doing series. It would be ideal to substitute a running practice with another sport. Must always be done at medium intensity, to avoid overload and soreness.
- Competition is theopposition or rivalry between people who aspire to achieve the same goal; and struggle and strive to achieve it. It is the athletic contest where the physical capabilities of each are measured. It's the battle of strength and speed between runners. It is pushing the rest aside. Competition is the struggle which the Greeks called "agon" (hence agony) and is identical for both the first and for the last. Only those who have participated in a competition know what it is to face the mental agony we suffer before giving it all in that race. The suffering is so painful, that only very few times can runners devote themselves fully to the task.
- What to do on the Day of the Competition? Have breakfast at least two hours before the race, and eat what you normally eat every day. Do not change your habits or the food. From the last intake until the day of the competition you should drink a lot of water, even if you are not thirsty. Do not have any sugars or sugary drinks.
- Prior to warm-up: cover all parts of your bodythat could get scratched with vaseline, especially before very long races. The highest risk areas are feet, between toes, foot arch, heel, and around the Achilles tendon. Other areas are the armpits, inner thighs and nipples.
- Warming upproperly is essential. It is important to jog softly for a few minutes, do some stretches and abs exercises. Once in the race everything depends on you. It is always better to have a conservative start and progressively go faster as kilometers go by. Try to drink water in every provisioning station
- If your goal is not to win the race, try not to change your pace abruptly, you will see the end result will be better. If the feared "flatus" appears, reduce your pace, take a deep breath and press on the painful area, releasing your hand very slowly. Then, jog very softly for a few minutes. If you suffer muscular problems or exhaustion, it is best to stop. There will always be another race where you can try again.
- Warming-up is very important before the competition. Its duration will range between 15' and 20'. Its function is to raise body temperature and increase blood circulation to muscles and tendons in order to perform well during the competition. It is generally performed as follows: three to five stretching exercises without forcing. About ten minutes of very easy jogging, almost walking. Five or six exercises ankle. Four progressions of about 50 meters until just before departure.
- Cooling down is performedfive minutes after the end of the race. It consists on jogging, very slowly, for three to five minutes, and then performing routine cooling, with several stretching exercises.
Hydrate properly. Adapt food to your necessities
1. We should reduce fat intake, consume less frozen food and pre-cooked meals, avoid fried meals and avoid processed sweets.
2. On the contrary, it is necessary to increase carbohydrate intake in the form of legumes, rice, pasta, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It is also recommended to take a spoonful of honey and another one of extra virgin olive oil every day. Runners with busy and stressful lives who lack free time can find their perfect complement: the “Fitness Bar.” This will help blood thicken less (since there will be less waste running through your blood,) the liver will work less (reducing the possibility of getting flatus while running,) and the number of red blood cells in your blood will increase, among other advantages. In the medium term you will feel better and, for the same amount of effort, your performance will be much better.
3. You should drink water even if you are not thirsty, doing so with short sips and no hurries, before and after training. As the body loses water, performance drops and you can reach dehydration (defined as the loss of more than 3% of body weight), greatly reducing the cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function. Excessive sweating causes us to lose water and lowers our blood volume if not replaced immediately. Lower blood volume means less blood is pumped by the heart, and to maintain the level of effort the heart will be forced to increase the number of beats per minute. All this will speed up the onset of fatigue and worsen performance.
4. Once a day you should drink at least half a liter of isotonic drink, which are drinks designed to have the same osmotic pressure as the blood, allow for a speedy recovery and help better assimilate training. In the winter or in cold climates, it is enough to simply take it after every workout. Iso Energy is perfect, since, in addition to electrolytes and salts, it contains vitamins and carbohydrates, which are essential for accelerating recovery after workouts. The drink is best when taken at 7 to 13 degrees centigrade (cool,) since cold liquids leave the stomach first, without causing bloating. Do not first try it in a marathon; use it in the longer workouts before.
5. During days of intense training or long progressive runs, when running at between 70% and 85% of your maximum speed, it is very important to eat foods rich in carbohydrates.
6. Rapidly assimilated carbohydrates, such as honey, molasses or glucose, should be eaten just after training or competition. Carbohydrates with a medium glycemic index such as pasta, rice, bread, or pizza should be taken three hours before or three hours after training. It is advisable to ingest between 150 and 300 grams. Low glycemic index carbohydrates should be ingested during the meals furthest away from training times.
7. You should not take ampoules or gels containing rapidly assimilated carbohydrates, since they can have an opposite effect from what is desired. You can ingest isotonic drinks, which contain very small concentrations of carbohydrates or a gel containing carbohydrates of slow assimilation. The risks of rapidly assimilated carbohydrates are the following: ingesting a high glycemic index amopule after Km 30, moment when carbohydrate reserves are lacking, the organism detects a sudden and drastic rise in blood glucose levels and secretes insulin to counteract this sudden change. This insulin high, also sudden, can have a bounce back effect, reducing blood glucose to low levels and thus producing the effect contrary to what is desired and greatly increasing the risk of sudden collapse.
8. Caffeine increases fat oxidation during the first minutes but does not affect the rhythm of glycogen breakdown. It improves performance and especially affects the nervous system. It is advisable to drink a black coffee less than an hour before the beginning of the competition.
9. The maximum daily protein intake should be a function of the effort done that same day. The range oscillates between 1 and 1.6 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. A 70 kg runner would need to ingest between 90 and 120 grams of protein per day, which he/she can obtain from a normal diet with no supplements. The best proteins are egg white and whey. An ideal protein supplement to take after each workout is the "Total Recovery."
10. Vitamins A and C, and minerals such as zinc, act as protective antioxidants. Long, heavy workouts cause significant iron, zinc and magnesium losses, which can increase physical stress and decrease immune capacity when not recovered properly. Take an ampoule of liquid magnesium after heavy workouts.
Select the best running shoes for you
1. Ideally, shoes should be stable, flexible, excellent shock absorbers, have an appropriate shape that adapts to your feet, have a strong buttress that surrounds your heel perfectly, have good ventilation (avoid leather shoes,) with an average weight (avoid excessively light shoes, they are for experienced runners of very low weight,) and that are not excessively expensive. Shoes are of vital importance for runners. They will provide you with the stability and the cushioning needed to run smoothly, as long as you choose them well. On hard surfaces the foot does not flex naturally, resulting in higher stress and overload on the legs, and premature muscular exhaustion. If you plan to run a marathon in three hours or more, I recommend you use the same shoes you trained with. This will avoid you the discomfort, chafing and pain that can truncate your aspirations. Never use brand new shoes in a competition, because they are likely to cause blisters and chafing. Ideally you should use them several days before so they adapt to your feet (at least one week).
2. Clothing for a marathon must be comfortable and not cause blisters. Just as with shoes, it is not advisable to use brand new clothes for a competition, it is best to try it fist during training. If you train or compete in a place where it is very hot it is best to use white or light-colored clothes (at least t-shirts, since they have a larger surface exposed to the sun). White colors reflect light beams and help you avoid superheating and expending more energy cooling down. For a long-distance race this equals time lost.
3. The last item that must be discussed are socks. They should be thin, short, thread or coolmax and seamless. This is the piece of clothing you need to take best care of, since a simple gall may force you to retire. It is very important to impregnate your toes, foot arches and heels with Vaseline before putting on your socks. Socks should also adjust perfectly to your feet; there should be no bending or slack that could cause blisters.
4. One trick that will help toughen your feet is to immerse them in hot water with salt and vinegar for twenty minutes. Ideally, you would repeat this process times the weeks preceding the marathon.
Exercise your mind by visualizing different race strategies. Always think positively.
- Motivation. What pushes us to confront our own limits? There are many reasons and explanations that would respond to this question: genetics, instinct, seeking physical and psychological limits, the spirit of achievement and adventure, or stimuli that we receive through promotional campaigns. The effect of such stimuli is clear: they raise motivation. According to some experts, suggestion and hypnosis may increase resistance to fatigue and pain by up to 20%. Psychological preparation is thus the ideal addition to physical preparation. It is a long-term effort that must be exercised day after day. It is to believe on your chances, and be convinced that on the day of the race you will achieve the time you propose for yourself.
- The greatest enemy of the trained athlete is pain. Pain and fear of pain is what frightens us, and it is especially evident in runners. At their best physical shape, athletes who want to have maximum performance must endure pain that exceeds their own imagination and ability. Those who are able to pass through the pain barrier and enter the realm of true agony are the ones who will achieve their objectives. Only those who have participated in a competition know what it is to face the mental agony