How to Step Up Your Running Game

By Andrew Pap, SKINS athlete and owner of Battle Fit Australia

Running season is upon us and many exciting events are rapidly approaching. So, whether you're a seasoned veteran or you're dusting off your runners as you read this, the following tips will assist you in optimising your chances for success at your next event.  

I want to briefly cover the following topics and hopefully improve your understanding of: 

  • Injury prevention 
  • Efficiency 
  • Strengthening the specifics 
  • Nutrition 
  • Recovery 
  • Mindset 
  • Structure 

Injury Prevention

A topic that should be a priority for all who endeavour to train. It's imperative to understand the biomechanics of the human body and how we function under particular stresses.

Our daily lives, genetics, earlier stresses and pre-existing injuries can all influence how we move and respond to many stimuleses. 

If we can understand our weaknesses, then we can strengthen them. It's very common, particularly in runners to go down with injury even before the event. 

So, bullet proofing the body is the foundation to your running success. Pay focus on your joint stability (particularly under unilateral stresses), core strength, dominant muscle groups and correct muscle activation.

Efficiency 

Essentially every step that you take when you run is a repetition. That means the volume in a half marathon is immense, you will execute tens of thousands of repetitions! So, ensuring that each step is performed correctly and with the least amount of resistance is key. 

Instability throughout the joints, under active muscle groups, technique flaws, poor posture, tight muscles and erratic breathing will all play their part.

There is so much to learn when focusing on all the small percentages to running. My advice would be to see a running coach or a very 'running' experienced personal trainer. 

Strengthening the Specifics 

To optimise your performance, you can't only focus on running alone. You will be required to strengthen your body in reflection to what stresses the body faces when running.

Your strength training can be influenced by what event you're competing, in regard to both distance and terrain. From eccentrically loading your Achilles and quads plus focusing on anti-rotational exercises. Your time in the gym needs to be spent wisely. Your time needs to be honed in bullet proofing your body, being as efficient as possible and building strength. 

Nutrition 

This topic plays an integral role with performance and recovery. Everyone's approach will be different as it needs to adhere to your dietary requirements, what foods you're accustom to eating and your body’s ability to digest food when under physical stress. 

Your nutrition needs to be trialled during training as any stomach aches or unexpected bowel movements will ruin your event.

Understanding nutrition and the bodies metabolic principles will see you optimising the best ways to increase energy production for fuelling your working muscles. Plus, great ways to recover post event. 

Recovery 

Developing your methods to be time efficient and effective will provide advantageous for even the people who are time poor.

Giving back to your body after bombarding constantly within your training is essential. I've developed an almost ritual post running protocol that allows me to stay at my peak injury free. Combining stretching, rolling out/trigger point therapy, magnesium cream and wearing my SKINS RY400 recovery tights to bed or throughout the day.

Mindset

At the end of the day, the body will always give up first and it's our will power that carries us through. However, we need to know when to pull back or push through the hurt with training and on the event day.

We want longevity with our bodies and best quality of life. So, self-assessing and understanding when your body needs attention is fine. But also, knowing when to push through when you may be feeling lazy or unmotivated. Your training mindset will all manifest itself when it comes to race day.

Training Structure

We've all done it. Just focused on exercising rather than training with purpose. It's easy to get caught up with thinking that as long as you sweat, you will achieve better results. Unfortunately, this is false or at least an archaic way of thinking.

Understand that your structure, methodology and assessment in your training is key. You need to create your training around your body’s limitations, your goals and specifically for your event. Giving you clear parameters that need to be adhered to, if you want to optimise your chances of success.