For Advanced Runners

author : MikaelEriksson
comments : 2

Try These 5 Tips to Improve Quickly

Running is difficult. It might sound weird, since intuitively many people would think that it’s all about “improving your endurance.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

First of all, endurance at an easy pace is different from endurance at high intensity. Many triathletes have the wrong balance of training intensities, and struggle to improve their endurance as a consequence.

But it doesn't stop there. Running is essentially a series of one-legged jumps that requires decent technical skills to perform efficiently. And other factors, such as core strength, can completely ruin your run even if have the endurance and technical skills nailed down.

With that in mind, what follows are 5 tips for advanced triathletes and a link to similarly researched tips for beginner triathletes, that you can implement to fast-track your progress when you’re starting out, or use to break through plateaus when you struggle to make any further progress with what your currently doing.


5 tips for advanced triathletes



  1. Do strides.
    Strides last 20 to 30 seconds, and consist of accelerating up to around 95 % of your maximal speed and then holding that speed. They are great for improving run technique, and to work on your top speed and keep your legs sharp.Slow down your runs.

    Don’t run strides so hard that you tense up. Staying relaxed is the key. After each stride, take a full recovery (walk or very easy jog) until you're ready to do the next one. You can build up gradually to as much as 8 of them twice a week as part of either a workout or an easy run. Remember that they shouldn't be taxing.

  2. Run fast-finish long runs. 
    Fast-finish long runs can give your endurance a massive boost by getting you used to running at a high-intensity when you're already fatigued. Their impact is three-fold: physiological, metabolic and psychological.

    As an example of how to do a fast-finish long run, start with an hour at easy pace, then do 40 minutes at a moderate pace before finishing off with 15 minutes at close to your lactate threshold pace, followed by a five-minute cool-down.

    These workouts are taxing, so don’t do them every week. In your race-season every other week would be appropriate.

  3. Do a mobility check. 
    If you have restrictions in your range of motion, your running will suffer as a consequence. For triathletes the most common problem areas are the hip flexors and the hamstrings. You can do the check yourself at home using a guide like Anatomy for Runners. This book (and other similar resources) contains both mobility assessment tests and remedies for potential issues.

    If you want to see a professional for an assessment, that’s even better. Just make sure you choose one who knows how to work with triathletes or runners. If you do have mobility issues, make sorting them out a top priority! Otherwise, chances are you’ll end up injured sooner or later.

  4. Add plyometrics.
    Plyometrics help your run by improving your explosive strength (power) and by making your stride springier. As a result, your running efficiency increases. Examples of plyometric exercises include box jumps, running up stairs, jumping up stairs, one-legged rocket jumps, jump rope exercises, standing long jump and so on.

    Plyometrics can be particularly useful in the base phase, when you aren't doing as many hard running workouts yet. Thread with caution though, as the risk of injury is high. A 20-minute plyometric session once a week is enough to see great benefits, while minimizing the risk of injuries.

  5. Think of your legs as wheels, not as a pendulum.
    One thing that helps running with better form and efficiency is to visualize your legs being wheels, that go in a circular trajectory around your center of gravity. This is quite the opposite of how many people think of their legs while running - pendulums swinging back and forth. By trying to run with a wheel-like motion you'll improve your running form through better knee lift and hip extension.

    If you are a beginning runner, read this related article for Five Tips for Beginning Runners.


BONUS TIP that EVERYBODY should do


Core strength and stability. If your core is not strong and stable enough, you could in theory have the best running form in the world, but you wouldn’t be able to keep it up for very long.

In practice, achieving a good running form in the first place is very difficult if not impossible when your core is lacking. For example, you won't be able to run tall if your core is not strong enough. The most important reason to work on your core is to prevent injuries that arise very easily when other muscles start to over-compensate for a functionally deficient core.

Core strength and stability for triathletes is not about doing a thousand crunches and getting ripped. It’s about hips, glutes and deep-lying core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis. Work on core strength and stability at least twice a week in a 15-20 minute well-rounded routine. Doing so will enable you to keep a good and aligned running posture, and to reduce uncontrolled rotation and other energy-wasting, potentially injury-causing movements. If you do nothing else as a result reading this article, at least do this. Start strengthening your core. 




References:



  1. Stöggl, Thomas, and Billy Sperlich. "Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training." Frontiers in physiology 5 (2014).

  2. Esteve-Lanao, Jonathan, et al. "How do endurance runners actually train? Relationship with competition performance." Med Sci Sports Exerc 37.3 (2005): 496-504.

  3. Hydren, Jay R., and Bruce S. Cohen. "Current Scientific Evidence for a Polarized Cardiovascular Endurance Training Model." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 29.12 (2015): 3523-3530.

  4. Stöggl, Thomas L., and Billy Sperlich. "The training intensity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes." Frontiers in physiology 6 (2015).

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  6. Seiler, Stephen. "What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes." Int J Sports Physiol Perform 5.3 (2010): 276-291.

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  8. Schubert, Amy G., Jenny Kempf, and Bryan C. Heiderscheit. "Influence of Stride Frequency and Length on Running Mechanics A Systematic Review." Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2013): 1941738113508544.

  9. Willson, John D., et al. "Effects of step length on patellofemoral joint stress in female runners with and without patellofemoral pain." Clinical Biomechanics 29.3 (2014): 243-247.

  10. Kyröläinen, H., A. Belli, and P. V. Komi. "Biomechanical factors affecting running 188 economy." Med Sci Sports Exerc 33.1330-1337 (2001): 189-190.

  11. Spurrs, Robert W., Aron J. Murphy, and Mark L. Watsford. "The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance." European journal of applied physiology1 (2003): 1-7.

  12. Saunders, Philo U., et al. "Short-term plyometric training improves running economy in highly trained middle and long distance runners." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 20.4 (2006): 947-954.

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  14. Ramírez-Campillo, Rodrigo, et al. "Effects of plyometric training on endurance and explosive strength performance in competitive middle-and long-distance runners." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28.1 (2014): 97-104.

  15. Leetun, Darin T., et al. "Core stability measures as risk factors for lower extremity injury in athletes." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 36.6 (2004): 926-934.

  16. Ford, Kevin R., et al. "Relationship between hip strength and trunk motion in college cross-country runners." Med Sci Sports Exerc 45.6 (2013): 1125-30.

  17. Finnoff, Jonathan T., et al. "Hip strength and knee pain in high school runners: a prospective study." PM&R 3.9 (2011): 792-801.

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Mikael is a triathlete and coach, and founder of Scientific Triathlon. The carefully selected team of coaches at Scientific Triathlon helps triathletes of all abilities to train smarter and achieve their triathlon goals, whether that be finishing their first sprint distance race or qualifying for Kona.

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date: February 28, 2016

MikaelEriksson

My greatest interests include geeking out on triathlon science and best practices, always learning more about triathlon coaching and training, and actually doing the training and racing part of it.

Above all of that though comes trying to figure out how to and constantly improve my know-how in solving the puzzle that is getting each individual triathlete to train as optimally for himself or herself as is possible, given their current ability level, goals, time constraints, history in the sport and all other variables that influence how you should train.

avatarMikaelEriksson

My greatest interests include geeking out on triathlon science and best practices, always learning more about triathlon coaching and training, and actually doing the training and racing part of it.

Above all of that though comes trying to figure out how to and constantly improve my know-how in solving the puzzle that is getting each individual triathlete to train as optimally for himself or herself as is possible, given their current ability level, goals, time constraints, history in the sport and all other variables that influence how you should train.

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