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Running: Taking it to the Next Level

You’ve got your new shoes, new t-shirt, microfibre shorts, maybe even a pair of those $60 socks. Now what? You hear the terms “LSD”, “fartlek”, “10 and 1’s”, “hills”, “speedwork”, and “tempo run” being thrown around by the running crowd. People ask about your mileage. What does it all mean? Read on to get the lowdown on typical running terms.

Increase your training volume gradually. Increasing mileage by 10% per week is a good rule of thumb.

So, if you ran 10 miles last week, you should not run more than 11 this week. Although conservative, your body will thank you in the long run (pun fully intended). Gradual progression allows your joints, tendons, and muscles to adapt to the new stress and will decrease your chances of developing untimely injuries in the future.

Alternate your hard/easy training days.

Long runs, hill workouts, and speed work are all considered “hard” days. So if you do your long run on Saturday, you shouldn’t do your hill workout on Sunday. Your body needs time to recover from hard training sessions. Alternating your runs will allow your body to adapt and decrease your risk of overuse injuries. Easy days are also excellent opportunities to incorporate cross-training (e.g., cycling, circuit-training) into your program.

Listen to your body. If something hurts when you run, it’s probably time for a day off.

The main point here is that if something hurts when you run, you probably shouldn’t be running. It is important to take time a day off of running if you feel like something isn’t right. Trying to push through an injury can make things much worse, forcing you away from running and can even hinder your day-to-day activities.

Essential Running Training Terms.

Long Run –usually done once per week and viewed as an essential component of any training program. This run is done at a slow pace and is gradually progressed throughout a training program. Depending on your fitness, the length of your long run may be anywhere from 40 to 180 minutes (and beyond!). Long runs help build physical and mental stamina, promote cardiovascular adaptations, and strengthen connective tissue. You may also hear these runs called “long slow distance” or LSD.

Hill Workout/Hills – These types of runs definitely fall into the “hard” category. Done on any size hill you can find, usually from 50 meters all the way up to 400 meters (think Groat Road Hill). The typical hill workout consists of running hard up the hill and walking/jogging easily back down, repeating this routine multiple times. Always be cognizant of training principles # 1 and # 3 when you start doing hills – gradual progression and listening to your body are the name of the game.

Speedwork/Intervals – involves running a set distance or time fast! Followed by a walking or jogging recovery period. Usually a 1:2 work to rest ratio is good to start with. For example, you may do six 1-minute intervals with 2 minutes of slow jogging as a rest in between. Intervals are perhaps the most effective way to boost your fitness and provide a good calorie burn too!

Fartlek – the Swedish word for “speedplay”. Traditionally very unstructured, it involves running at a variety of different speeds where you are allowed to change the pace whenever you want. Most coaches prescribe more structured fartlek dictating the speeds and times of the intervals. For example, you might sprint for 20 seconds, jog for 2 minutes, pick up the pace again for 45 seconds, then jog for 1 minute, etc. Fartlek provides an excellent workout (similar to intervals) but allows you to have a little fun while going out for a run. If you are looking to add variety to your running, add a fartlek workout once a week, you’ll have a blast and your running fitness will improve while you’re at it.

Tempo Run – usually recommended for serious runners looking to improve there racing performance, tempo runs involve running at a pace slightly below race pace for an extended period of time (usually 10 to 30 minutes). The idea is that you can promote maximal adaptations and get used to racing conditions on this high-quality run.

10 and 1’s – The numbers pertain to the number of minutes running versus the number of minutes walking. It doesn’t have to be 10 and 1’s, it can be any combination of running and walking. This type of run/walk training has become popular in recent years and has helped to make running accessible to a wider range of people. Incorporating walking breaks into your runs can be very effective. It is easier on your body and can allow you to stay out longer. Run/walks are a good option for beginning runners or those that are looking to substantially increase the length of their long run.

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