We’re on week 5 of Improve Your Running and I hope the tips have been useful so far. This week brings in previous ideas but adds a bit extra too. Runners love to run and most aren’t keen on doing other activities but variety is the spice of life and mixing things up in your running can really help you to improve.
If you’re a woman in peri or post menopause (as lots of my readers are) then adding variety and changing things around a bit is a really useful tool for helping you to keep running both now and in the future.
Mixing up your training will:
- Give you good all round fitness
- Work different muscle groups
- Help your recovery
- Prevent boredom
- Give you gains in your running.
Here are my 3 top tips for mixing up your running:
1. Vary your sessions.
Improve your VO2 max, get stronger and see progress in your running by not just running the same routes at the same pace. Mix road, trail and track (if you get the chance). Vary distance, and pace and perhaps add a race or a fast parkrun here and there. Over a couple of weeks try to include the following in your schedule:
- A hill session
- An interval run
- A tempo run (you’re pushing yourself but you can keep going)
- A long, slow run
- A relaxed, run however you want, have fun kind of run
2. Cross train.
Yeah, I know it’s not running but if there is some other kind of activity that you enjoy or could grow to love then do a bit of that too. Different activities will work different muscle groups and give you a good all round fitness. You can still get a good cardio workout and if you choose a low impact activity then your joints might appreciate some extra recovery time. So, swimming, cycling, rowing, cross trainer, dance classes, paddle boarding, whatever takes your fancy.
3. Add strength work.
The quickest way to make a runner feel guilty is usually to ask them how their strength work is going. We’re notoriously bad at it. But honestly, if you want to see gains in your running then building strength is vital. Again, for my peri and post meno runners and any older runners, this is crucial. As we get older we lose muscle mass so we need to take steps to replace and maintain it. (Read this blog if you’re new to strength work). Do this however takes your fancy but here are some areas to work on:
- Core strength – important for all runners but particularly for endurance, to help you keep good form
- Foot and ankle strength – reduce injury risk on uneven ground
- Calf muscle strength – propel yourself forwards better with strong calves and protect against shin pain. Calf raises with straight and bent knees will do the trick
- Quads, glutes and hamstrings – build strength in these and you’ll gain power and speed. It will also help to protect your knee and hip joints because strong muscles around joints reduce the impact on the bone.
- Arm strength – don’t forget the upper body! You need your arms for sprinting and pumping them hard will help you get up hills.
- Plyometrics – build strength and power alongside balance and stability with jump and hop training. An underused and very efficient way to improve your running.
I hope this has inspired you not to be a runner that only runs. As always, don’t try to do everything at once, just pick one or two things and add them to your week. Add another once these are established. Be patient but if you do them consistently over weeks you’ll start to see benefits to your running.
Next week I have a fun tip that has helped my running so much.