Building a strong running foundation

Nov. 3, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.
Updated Nov. 4, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

When you build a new home, the first place you start is by laying a good foundation. The same is true as it applies to running.

You need to first build a base by building your aerobic endurance and slowly strengthening those muscles you will be using to run progressively longer distances.

To lay a solid foundation, while avoiding injury, you need to slowly progress your weekly running mileage. Once a solid running base is established, then you can start to add in speed, tempo, and hill work.

However, increasing mileage too quickly or adding in speed and hill work too soon, may leave you sidelined with an injury.

You need to put running miles in the bank in a progressive, but conservative manner, in order to lay the groundwork for a successful training program.

Too few running miles, due to an inconsistent training program or a lack of commitment, will lead to a fade before the finish line, or even worse, having to pull out all together.

Too much, too soon, and you may find yourself with constant, nagging injuries due to over-training.

The first step in establishing a good running foundation is finding a good training plan to work off.You can find one online at varra.org.

I developed two different training programs for running the Citizens Run Against Cancer half-marathon on Feb. 24. The programs are both 16 weeks long; one is for novice runners, as well as one for intermediate runners. Both programs allow approximately four to six weeks of base training before adding in speed or hill work.

Slower running helps to build a base, increase fitness levels, and help to build you up for the harder and longer efforts of running found later in the training program.

The program centers around three quality runs per week, with alternate days of cross-training cardio. Cross-training, such as taking a spin class or using the elliptical machine, allows for continued improvements in cardiovascular fitness and efficiency without the added extra days of stress on your joints.

The key is to progressively increase the stress-load on the body, but not in excessive amounts. You can accomplish this by following the 5 and 10 rule; never increase mileage or speed by more than 10 percent, preferably 5 percent, from one week to the next. Consistency is key.

A strong foundation is based on steady, consistent running. Consistency requires self-discipline as well as following a solid training plan.

Group runs will help provide support, accountability and also a social aspect to running, which helps in being consistent.

Make sure to approach your training with patience. A successful runner isn't born overnight. It may take a few months before you start to see the results paying off, in both your endurance and in your your waistline, but you will definitely see a significant change in your running ability if you stick with a plan and probably drop a few pounds along the way.

In an effort to help support you in your endeavor to cross that finish line, the Victoria Area Road Runners invite you to join them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as you begin your half-marathon training.

Visit varra.org for more information on the training and citizensrunagainstcancer.org on the half-marathon.

The chilly temps are here: It's a perfect time to start running. What are you waiting for?


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