When you are training for a longer race or you are just beginning a running program after 40, you need to build up your mileage slower than if you were younger. Many runners do a walk/run program. They will do this and then slower decrease the amount of time that they are walking until they are running the entire distance. This is a great way to keep from getting injured by doing too much too soon.
An important thing for runners is to listen to what their body is telling them. I feel that this is important for all runners (and is what has kept me out on the roads for over 30 years), but even more important as you get older. If you need an extra day to get over a long run or a speed workout – take it.
Doing a weight workout a couple of times a week is great to keep your muscles strong. Make sure that you are doing both upper and lower body work. Leg extensions are a great way to keep the muscles around your knees strong and pain free. Just use a light weight – your plan is not to bulk up, but to stay strong.
If you’ve been running for many years, be aware of the fact that you will probably be slower as you get older. I’ve come to terms with that fact – and I’m alright with it. I take great joy in knowing that I’m still out there running after all these years and many that I ran with when I was younger are not running at all. As I get older, I’m happy with my runs and how it makes me feel younger than I am. Speed doesn’t matter to me at all.
Make sure that you are staying hydrated. As we get older, we sometimes don’t feel thirsty as we used to. So, be aware of this and make sure that you follow the urine test – it should be clear or pale yellow.
Aerobic System? What is it?
Aerobic training is the scientific fact that to move your body at higher intensities, the body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen so it can be used as energy.
The aerobic system plus oxygen starts a chemical reaction known as Aerobic Glycolysis which continuously powers continuous endurance activities. In the aerobic system energy ATP is produced through Pyruvic Acid and Lipid/Protein fragments entering the Kreb Cycle and the Electron Transport Cycle.
During aerobic respiration (yeah, that’s breathing) the body uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles. When you are running in your “aerobic zones” (easy runs), your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.
See? Improving your capacity to transport and efficiently use all the available oxygen to produce energy will enable you to race faster since this makes up 85-99% of the energy needed to race.
Since running easy is aerobic development, what better way is there to train the aerobic system? There is none.
What goes on in the body during aerobic development?
Capillary development – capillaries are the smallest of the body’s blood vessels and they help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues while exporting waste products out. The larger the number of capillaries you have surrounding each muscle fiber, the faster you can transport oxygen and carbohydrates to your muscles.
Aerobic training (easy running) increases the number of capillaries per muscle fiber, thus improving how efficiently you can deliver oxygen and fuel to your working muscles and how quickly they can clear waste products.
Myoglobin is a protein in the muscles that binds the oxygen that enters the muscle fiber. When oxygen becomes limited during intense exercise, myoglobin releases oxygen to the mitochondria to produce more energy.
The more myoglobin you have in the fibers of your muscles, the more oxygen is transported under aerobic stress. Like, uh, during a race. Aerobic training increases the amount of myoglobin you have in your muscle fibers.
Mitochondria are microscopic organelle found in your muscles cells that contribute to the production of ATP (energy). In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria breakdown carbohydrate, fat, and protein into usable energy.
Therefore, the more mitochondria you have, and the greater their density, the more energy you can generate during exercise, which will enable you to run faster and longer.
Aerobic training increases both the number and the size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers.
Suffice it to say that aerobic development is the single most important factor to long-term development.
Of course, track workouts, VO2 max sessions, tempo runs and cross training will increase your fitness and are still incredibly important to racing faster. However, nothing will help improve continuously like developing the aerobic system.
Aerobic development is dependent upon running in your aerobic zones (for my runners Zones 1-3). This is why running faster on your easy days develop the aerobic system. Once you step out of those aerobic zones, on easy runs you diminish development of your aerobic system, but you also increase the chance for injury. Nope, two negatives do not make a positive in running.
This is one of the single biggest mistakes runners of all experiences make in their training.
As a coach and trainer I have always distinguished myself because I am always able to give my clients and readers the “why”. (Sometimes my clients end up telling me to just shut my mouth. when I am training with them because I am continuously telling them why they are doing each movement of an exercise or workout. I guess it may not be an advantage all the time. Go figure.)
Scientific research has been able to identify how the aerobic system adapts and responds to certain training paces. Physiologically we know:
Capillary development appears to peak at between 60 and 75 percent of 5k pace.
Maximum stimulation of myoglobin in Type I muscle fiber (Endurance Muscles) occurs at about 63-77 percent of VO2max. 63-77 percent of VO2max is about 55-75 percent of 5k pace.
Two researchers, Holloszy (1967) and Dudley (1982) published some of the defining research on optimal distance and pace for mitochondrial development. In short, Holloszy found that maximum mitochondrial development when running at 50-75 percent of V02 max. Likewise, Dudley found that the best strategy for slow-twitch, mitochondria enhancement was running for 90 minutes per outing at 70 to 75 per cent V02 max.
It is pretty clear now right? Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75 percent of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 percent.
It’s also evident that running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run has very little additional physiological benefit.
In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster. Running around half of your 5k pace is pretty easy right? Wouldn’t you know it, the evidence is clear that it still provides near optimal aerobic development.
Feel free to let me hear your feedback. I welcome any other case studies, personal experiences and other research as I am always learning. I provide you with the best content I can, but I have an open-mind and know that there may be other research out there that may negate information I post.
Aims to stretch the lower leg muscles for better running performance. Start in an upright position. Place one bent leg forward and place the other leg straight backwards. Hold this position and count from 1-10. Repeat this pattern and alternate your feet.
The quadriceps stretch works the front thigh muscles. To do it, stand upright and hold your left foot with your left hand, bring it backwards, with the sole of your foot touching your buttocks. Use your free hand for balance. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat with the other leg.
To do a hip flexor stretch, stand with feet apart and place one leg in front of your body. Bend the front leg so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Your other leg should be slightly bent and almost touching the ground. Tilt your pelvis backwards and push your hips forward. Hold the position for 10 counts and repeat on the other leg.
Stand upright with legs about a shoulder’s width apart. Bend your hips and try to reach the ground with your hands without bending your knees. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat.
Sit with your legs outstretched. Raise your right leg and cross is with your left leg by bending your right knee. While holding your legs’ position, twist your upper body opposite your bent leg’s direction, in this case to the right. Feel your hip and lower back stretch. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat the process on the other leg.
Tempo runs should be done once a week. They will help to increase your fitness level. Tempo runs also train you mentally by giving you the feeling of running faster which will help to build confidence for your road races.
As you begin, you want to start out easy to warm up. Most runners will run slowly for 10 – 15 minutes (I usually do 1 mile of easy running). Then you want to increase your speed until you are running about 15 seconds slower than your 10K speed. If you don’t know what that is, run at a speed that is a hard effort. You can judge this by using the talk test. If you have trouble talking – but not gasping for air – then you are probably at the right pace.
You want to continue at this pace for 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you can’t run that far at that pace when you are just starting tempo runs. Try it for 5 minutes and then each week build up to runner farther. Some runners will also break it into chunks of fast running. 5 minutes of quick paced running, followed by a minute or two of walking then another 5 minutes of tempo, etc. Whatever works for you is great – it’s just important to get these done.
After your quicker paced runs, you want to be sure to cool down. A nice, easy 10 minutes (or an easy mile) and then you’re done! Make sure that you are doing the warm up and cool down as it is critical to your performance.
Also, make sure that you are entering your tempo runs in your training log. Keep notes on your pace, how you felt, the weather conditions, etc. This will help you with your runs in the future.
20 minutes of tempo paced running each week will make you a stronger runner. However, if you are training for a longer distance run, you will want to increase your tempo runs to 30 – 40 minutes for each workout.
First of all, make sure that you are wearing a cap. A cap to me when I’m running in all types of weather is a must. When it’s sunny, it helps to protect your eyes and face. When it’s a rainy day, a cap becomes even more important. The brim on a cap will keep the rain off of your face. This helps in many ways. First of all, keeping the rain off of your face just makes you feel better. And, if you wear contacts or glasses, it helps you to be able to see better.
A big mistake that runners will make is to overdress if it’s raining. This will cause you to be very uncomfortable during your race – especially after you start and get warmed up. If you put on several layers, they’ll all get wet due to the rain and sweat and you’ll be carrying around that extra weight. See what the temperature is and dress accordingly, as if it were a dry day.
However, you can wear a garbage bag while you are waiting around the starting line to keep the rain off you. Get a large size bag and make holes for your arms and head. Wear it around the start – then take it off once you get moving and warm up. Make sure that you throw it to the side of the road so that you don’t cause someone to slide and fall on your discarded garbage bag.
Many runners that don’t usually have a problem with chafing will if it’s a rainy day. To prevent this, use Body Glide or Vaseline where you may chafe – your inner thighs, underarms, etc. Also, make sure that you put some on your feet. This will help prevent blisters from the extra moisture of the rain.
Make sure that you have dry clothes waiting on you at the finish line. You’re may be warmed up from your race, but you can still get chilled easily. If you have family or friends with you, you can leave your dry clothes with them. If you are at the race by yourself, most races have a drop off and pick up spot for clothes.
Interval training is essential to increase your running pace. Use treadmills to help you with this training. Treadmills allow you to simulate sprints or hill runs and they also allow you to have fun and effective workouts to get your pace to the max. Most treadmills also have tracking features so you can track your progress and improvement.
Increasing resistance or strength training will improve your muscular endurance. As a runner, you want to focus on your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. These muscle groups will be the ones abused the most during marathons and it is important to keep them strong.
The stronger your core, the better your conditioning will be. Use numerous functional movements to train all of your major core muscles.
You must be able to maintain a consistent and comfortable pace during training. A comfortable pace is at around 70 percent of your maximum heartbeat rate. When you can hold a short conversation while running, maintain your pace at this rate and stay there for your marathon. Remember, that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You must be able to reserve your energy and not burn it out too quickly.
Cross your training. It is important to take some time out from running. This will allow your joints, muscles and body to recover on your most fatigued days without skipping exercising.
Once you have a training program planned, you also need to concentrate on energizing your body efficiently. Make sure to increase your complex carbohydrate consumptions through eating whole grains and oats. Get your proteins through beans and lean meats.
Experts have devised a set of guidelines called “The 10% Rule.” Simplified, this rule recommends an increase in training mileage at 10% per week and no higher. The motivation behind this rule is to avoid training errors which occurs when the human body is subjected to sudden changes in running intensity and mileage.
The body requires a recovery period so that it can respond well to the demands of training. Rushing the body may result in muscular and soft tissue injury. Experts in sports, biomechanics and kinesiology all agree that pushing too hard is not the answer to advancing forward. On the contrary, it can even delay successful achievement of running goals.
The best approach to training is to increase the monthly and weekly running mileage total based on the 10-percent rule. A person who is injury prone must also consider a lower target such as 3% or 5%. Even top runners base their training program on this rule and they apply the same principle when they engage in interval training, trail running, and hill running as well as other training activities. This approach is also helpful to a runner who wants to gauge their personal training threshold.
It pays to be sensitive to what your body is telling you. If there is pain anywhere, pay attention to it. Do not dismiss it, but take appropriate action. Don’t drown the pain in medications, but instead take decisive action to determine what’s causing it. Even at the slightest sign of discomfort, it is best to lower the running intensity for a while or even substitute other lighter activities such as walking or bicycling. It is important to remember to return to running only when absolutely pain-free. A consultation with a sports medicine specialist is the best way to go.
Remember that running is a physical activity that puts immense amounts of stress on the human body. Although it does not involve lifting weights, the lower limbs still receive repeated high impact loading. Be a smart runner and include injury prevention in your training program.
To hear the way some people talk, it makes running sound like some kind of quasi-sexual experience. Which, it is not. In any case, I don’t mean it that way. No pleasure is derived from running ten kilometers unless you enjoy experiencing pain. In fact, long distance running is a bit like taking a vow of celibacy. It’s about denial and sacrifice and spiritualism. Running shoes and heart monitors and pacing your self. That’s what I thought until I tried it.
I wouldn’t say it was an epiphany. Let’s just say I got it. I got what they were talking about. I understood the serenity and the solitude and the understanding. Listening and talking to your body. Challenging yourself to go faster and longer. In my fog of negativity I forgot. When you hit the wall of pain something miraculous happens. A small hit of happiness called Endorphins that flood over you. It’s the most natural form of pain relief there is. It refreshes and revitalizes the mind, the spirit and the body. You can keep going even when you think you can’t.
So what have I learned from this? For a start, I have a greater appreciation of the athletic efforts of competitive runners. I’m talking about the men and women who do this in serious competition. It isn’t just the sheer physicality of the task. There is a strong mental requirement. And here I am drawing on the philosophies of a man who took an ordinary but gifted runner and turned him into an Olympic champion. It applies in a race over a shorter distance as much as it would in a marathon. This is what he said. You must plan carefully. Build training around the concept of winning. Build stamina by setting time trial goals in the middle of a run. You must work out what he called your strategic race point. That is the point where you make your move and dictate terms rather than the other way around. Train for the worst possible scenario. Such as, a competition field made up of sprinters rather than stayers. If you put in the necessary hard work and the mileage into you legs it will become your advantage especially when you are going down to the wire.. But above all enjoy the experience. There is freedom and joy to be had as well as enormous satisfaction. But if, during the race, you get asked the question there is only one place to look to find the answer and that is inside your own self. The toughest competitor to overcome in any race is you. But when you do it is the greatest victory of all.
As with all road races, make sure that you are aware of what the weather is going to be on race day. On the days prior to a race, you want to make sure that you are drinking enough water. However, if you know that the weather is going to be warmer than usual that day, staying hydrated is even more important. The urine test is the best way to make sure. If your urine is clear or pale yellow, you are adequately hydrated.
If you know that race day is going to be hot, be sure to increase your salt intake before the race. You should be eating some salty foods and even taking salt straight up with water – a packet that you get in a restaurant is the perfect size. Some races will even give you one in your race packet to have during the race. If you are doing a half-marathon or marathon, you should get some salt during the race, also.
Don’t push yourself too hard if the weather is hot. – readjust your race goals. Trying to overdo it on a hot day can lead to heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke. It’s perfectly alright to run a little slower and make sure that you finish the race. You can try again for the Personal Record in your next race.
A great way to cool down if you feel overheated is to splash some water on you at the water stops. Many races will also give you a sponge at the water stops to wet and then carry with you to keep yourself cool. (It may also be a good idea to get one to have with you if you are prone to overheating if you know that race day is going to be super hot.). Two words of caution with this, though. First of all, if you do get a sponge at a water stop, don’t suck on it to get water. They may have soap or other things in them.
Also, if you splash water on yourself – try to keep your shoes dry. If you get too much water on your shoes and socks, it can lead to blisters. Not to mention, your shoes and socks will feel heavier if they are full of water.
If you do start to feel lightheaded, nauseous or have chills – stop at the next medical stop or find a race official. Be checked out to be sure you are alright.
To do this exercise, you need to walk in a straight line and bring your knee up high on every step. This exercise will really loosen up the hip joint that plays a crucial role in your run.
Walk forward using an extended back swing so that your heel makes contact with your glutes with every step.
Step outwards with one foot and bring your buttocks down towards the floor and then bring your other foot across using a lunging motion. Make sure to do both sides.
Standing side on, step outwards with one foot and bring your bum down towards the floor and bring the second foot across to meet the first one in a lunging movement. Make sure to do both sides.
Bend your standing knee slightly and bring your head down towards the floor. At the same time, bring your back leg up towards the ceiling. You need to work this exercise on both sides.
You need to stretch your hands outwards and then swing your leg up to touch the opposite hand and then repeat for the other side. The more repetitions and the more straight your leg while swinging, the better.
You need to outstretch your arms and make big circles using them. Start slowly and then increase your intensity.
You start this exercise in a standing position and then you drop one knee backwards to the floor and then raise that same knee up high in front of you. Repeat the same motion with your other knee.