RUN FURTHER RUN FASTER
This page has been set up to offer training advice from Kevin Carr – the race starter of Michelmore Exeter 5km run.
The intended recipients are finishers of that run. As such – this is not a ‘how to start running’ article rather advice on how existing runners can become stronger runners . . .
Disclaimer: Do not undertake any physical training activity, or make changes to existing activity – based on training advice (from any source) unless you and your medical practitioner have agreed that it is safe for YOU to commence such changes to your activity levels.
Kevin is a Devon based athlete who in 2015 completed a record breaking run around the world, setting two world records in the process.
Ran around the world in record time – i.e the fastest runner around the world.
The first athlete to run around the world without a support crew.
Kevin: “First of all congratulation on completing your 5kM race. I felt privileged to be invited to act as the race starter and now even more so being able to share training advice with those of you reading this – the ones interested in improving their running”.
The advice here will take some time to digest, there will be further reading and learning in order for you to realise which aspects will fit into your life and which you aspects you simply don’t have the time commitment to pursue.
Remember most of us are recreational runners.
Still the best advice I can give you is the same I would offer to a full time competitive runner. The following is not a quick throwaway ‘article’ found in magazines:
‘5 secrets that will give shortcuts to XYZ bold claim’
’10 tips to run faster’ etc.
The following is advice garnered from working with coaches, physiologists and running many tens of thousands of miles.
Running is hard work. Running faster or further is harder work still! There aren’t shortcuts. there are however many facets to address, many that take little time or work to implement but will help you get the most out of your running.
The advice on this page will not only make you a stronger runner but should positively affect most areas of your health and life.
What’s your goal?
Goal A: Run 5km but faster
Goal B: Run further (and if possible not much slower!)
Regardless of your goal you must have a solid foundation. The majority of this article will address issues that will improve your performance whether your aim is to move further or faster.
Power, performance, recovery, raw strength, sleep quality, and nutrition for example all need to be optimised before you have a chance of running injury free and reaching your potential.
There are however a few areas where your training approach is goal specific.
Over-speed intervals and Threshold training will be the key areas you must focus on, once you’ve followed the advice below.
*** Injury risk increases exponentially as you increase intensity! ***
Please do not just try adding more volume of speed work or increasing the intensity of your speed work if you haven’t addressed the elements below that will give you the strength and resilience necessary to handle the extra workload.
One of the biggest factors limiting top speed is extra luggage. It’s simply impossible to run anywhere near your potential or train with intensity if you’re not close to your optimal racing weight.
For most amateur/recreational athletes, and many elites to boot, the quickest route to improving times will not be found ‘on’ the road or track but ‘in’ the kitchen.
The combination of strength training and carbohydrate timing mentioned below should dramatically increase your strength to weight ratio.
Improved recovery rates, will allow you to push harder in training – thus faster in events.
Tracking the data on your sleep quality, mood scale and if possible, heart-rate-variability should prevent over-training and subsequent injury.
Remember Pb’s are set on the back of large chunks of injury/niggle free training blocks.
The obvious step is to start running further – this works to a certain extent, but high mileage is far from necessary. the law of diminishing returns quickly rears it’s ugly head.
You only need to ‘go long’ once a week. Running-long, will improve stamina not through ‘fitness’ (cardiovascular adaptations) but muscular adaptions.
You can rapidly accelerate this process through structured strength training.
The quickest way for a middle distance runner to boost endurance is to get stronger.
A lot stronger.
Contrary to most endurance training advice – Endurance is not a question of fitness.
Simply put to run further (without dramatically increasing risk of injuries) you need to get stronger.
Think about it, by increasing the distance you’re going to cover, you have no choice but to run at a lower intensity. Running slower – requires lower cardiovascular output.
To run further you need to maintain your present cardiovascular fitness, while dramatically increasing your power/raw-strength.
Why increase strength? Once you’ve lowered the intensity – by running at a slower speed, the only thing that will stop you running (apart from lack of energy) is Muscular fatigue.
What causes muscular failure/fatigue?
It’s the same thing that would cause a 1 litre petrol engine towing a caravan up a hill to fail – working too near – or at – maximum power output for too long a period.
Basically if you don’t strength train then running is the toughest things your leg muscles will be asked to do, eventually a certain volume of running will take your muscles ‘into the red’ they will ‘blow up’ or fail.
Your aims in moving from a mid distance runner to a long distance runner is to maintain cardiovascular fitness (horsepower) while doubling your muscular strength (engine size) and improving your fuel source.
The analogy In essence: Swapping a 1 litre petrol engine for a 2 litre diesel engine.
Once you’ve doubled your natural strength levels then running becomes very easy for the muscles to handle indefinitely. The strength training exercises to focus on are listed below, as is the dietary approach to prime your body to use fat as it’s primary fuel source.
Stress management and sleep quality – number one aim for both goals.
Your body cannot handle anywhere near the maximum training stimulus you are capable of absorbing if you are chronically stressed and or lacking in quality sleep.
Regardless of running goals – stress management and sleep quality are of utmost importance.
Nearly all states of disease are worsened by poor sleep and high stress – if not partially caused by these states.
Lower stress & Improved Sleep = Greater health + Accelerated Recovery times
Basic: Reduce sugar and processed foods in your diet. Supplement with fish oils and magnesium citrate.
Advanced: Adaptogens – an agent that helps the body adapt to stress, Rhodiola Rosea or Siberian Ginseng are amongst the most well researched. Nutrient timing – significantly reduce inflammation and improve fat burning levels by timing intake of carbohydrate to after exercise only.
One simple step for major improvement in quality of sleep, cognition, stress, productivity and health which takes JUST 5 MINUTES a day is a Gratitude Diary.
There’s even an APP to help prompt you. Learn more:http://www.fiveminutejournal.com/
Or listen to an in depth podcast here: https://www.bulletproofexec.com/80-be-more-successful-with-gratitude-and-uj-ramdas-podcast/
Only take Caffeine before 2pm ( can adjust to schedule – no later than 8 hr’s before bed)
Alcohol? If you drink an average amount, consider drinking less per sitting and less frequently.
If drinking less often isn’t something you want to consider then this podcast from America’s top personal trainer will tell you how to get away with drinking red wine everyday and still being competitive! Listen
Advanced: Breathing exercises:
A quick way to lower overall stress (which will enable you to adapt to training at an accelerated rate) is practicing ‘mindfulness’ the skill of directing thoughts in order to refrain from dwelling on past events or worrying about the future.
This isn’t ‘hippy nonsense’ top sports teams and sports performance coaches around the world are studying how this can be applied to athletes at the top of their game. Read more here:
Basic: Sleep Hygiene – ensure your bedroom has no light at night, hint you shouldn’t be able to see your own hand held p to your face. Blackout curtains help if you’re near street lighting, also check that the little glowing LED lights of electronics devices are switched off or at least covered (you can use black electrical tape to cover the LED lights) even low levels of light – such as a single LED in your bedroom will impact on sleep onset and sleep quality which will result in impaired performance (Not just in your running but all aspects of life are impacted by poor sleep habits)
Advanced: Sleep monitoring APPS such as this: https://neybox.com/pillow/ turns your smartphone into a device that measures sleep quality, once you record data you can then track changes in diet and environment that improve sleep quality.
Power to Weight Ratio
Weight to height ratio and in particular Body fat percentage is a huge determining factor in running performance.
Simply put if you’re carrying any spare luggage – you will be going slower and working harder! Extra weight not only slows you down but significantly increases chance of injury and the overall workload of your training session.
How much of a difference does excess body-fat make? – Well among recreational runners the biggest determining factor of race performance isn’t training volume but body-fat!
Yes so long as you have a basic level of fitness – adding more training won’t have nearly as much effect on your performance as addressing body fat levels.
And the elite-competitive athletes – who’re all super lean any how, their performance is all down to genetics and super secret training techniques right?
Wrong, even among elite athletes the most accurate way to predict the winner from the start line of a race isn’t V02max levels or training volume but, body-fat or ‘leanness’
It may well be more effective to scale back training volume and ‘diet’ to lose excess body fat than trying to ‘get fitter’ by training harder.
The most effective way to do this is to cut all processed foods from your diet and restrict carbohydrate intake to immediately after exercise.
For guidance on dropping FAT not weight.
And Listen here:
*** Without an experienced coach to show you the ropes the following can be very dangerous ***
Please ask a qualified Personal Trainer or ideally a specialist Strength Coach to spend an hour with you showing you how to perform the following exercises. Be clear, Don’t ask them for a ‘workout’ simply one-one tuition on the technique of performing these lifts:
The main strength exercise for runners to focus on are
Single leg Partial squat
Aside from the power/weight training exercises above, the most effective core exercise I know, aptly named The Torture Twist!
is shown in this video here: http://www.weighttraining.com/exercises/torture-twist
Once you know how to perform the lifts safely you then need to strength train twice a week, you want to lift a weight heavy enough that you can only lift it five times (i.e. it weighs so much that you can’t lift it six times in a row) and you only repeat three sets = that’s it lift something very heavy 15 times per exercise, twice per week.
Once you’ve made good strength gains and are very confident with your technique (again ask a qualified coach to supervise you occasionally and critique your technique) then move the weight up so you can’t lift it four times in a row.
From then on keep lifting a weight you can only lift three times in a row and repeat just three sets. Nine lifts per week and in less than a year you can easily double your strength!
Won’t strength training make me heavy and bulky? – NO! is the short answer.
This includes you ladies, lifting heavy weights a few times a week does not turn you into a bodybuilder – why would gyms all over the world be filled with skinny guys trying every gimmick under the sun to bulk up if it was that easy!