Training sessions for runners
For regular steady running, aim to run comfortably and avoid any overexertion. You can introduce key sessions such as speed work or hill reps with more measurable goals - e.g. covering certain distances in a specified time. These should be set at a realistic level that will be challenging but not unobtainable. As your training programme progresses, you will then hopefully notice a marked improvement in your running.
As your training progresses, you will hopefully notice a marked improvement
Establishing familiar routes in your area will help you know what conditions you will face and how long it will take. Check the weather and likely underfoot conditions and make sure you have the appropriate kit for what will lie ahead. Choosing appropriate clothing and shoes will make all the difference between a comfortable and an uncomfortable run.
Fluid intake is very important
If possible, eat at least two hours before running to allow the digestive system to work properly. Eating a lighter meal before a run will help avoid stomach issues when exercising. Fluid intake is very important. I recommend drinking small amounts regularly throughout the day in order to keep your body hydrated. Running will make you sweat and if you are not properly hydrated, your performance will be affected. If possible, avoid rushing around in the hours preceding a training session to conserve energy.
Warming up properly before a training session will keep the risk of injury to a minimum. Before steady running, stretch the major muscle groups for at least 15 minutes beforehand and then take it easy over the first two miles so that your body can warm up and prepare itself for a faster pace over the rest of the run.
Warming up properly before a training session will minimise injury risks
For the key sessions in your training program where you will be running harder and at a faster pace, it is essential that you carry out a thorough warm-up. Begin with a 15-minute jog to warm the muscles and increase the blood flow.
After this, stretch the warmed muscles to give yourself greater mobility (try to spend at least 10-15 minutes stretching the major muscle groups). To conclude the warm-up, perform four 'strides' - fast but relaxed runs - of 100m, concentrating on stride length and arm motion. This will raise your heart rate to the required intensity for the session ahead.
Stretch after running © Mark Shearman
After the main part of the session I recommend a cool down of relaxed loose running. Aim to do this for five minutes less than your warm up jog, so if it lasted 15 minutes, warm down for 10. You should also do a post session stretch, following the same guidelines as for the pre-session one. This will avoid any stiffness or soreness the next day.
After you session, I recommend replenishing the body's depleted energy stores with snacks that are high in carbohydrates, such as bananas or energy bars. Drink plenty of fluids to replace those that have been lost through perspiration. If possible, use the first hour after exercise to relax and give your body a chance to recover.
To maximise the effectiveness of your training session, prepare yourself both before and after each run.