Next Level Training – 2016 Resolutions for a Runner

This time of year is great for the sport of running. After a glutenous December many people turn to the beautiful art to help them lose weight, become healthier and change their ways. For many, this will last a month or two at most – but for a sizeable number, this decision is the beginning of an amazing adventure for them. But what about new year’s resolutions for experienced runners? How do we runners, who were up doing hill reps on Boxing Day, choose to improve our 2016? No doubt we will have PB targets in our head, and to make these reality we need to find a pathway to the target.

Looking back on 2015 I can identify my good periods and see two very clear elements of training that worked for me. Consistently doing these two training elements will be my New Year’s Resolution:

  • Strides
  • Double Days

Strides

I cannot talk highly enough of strides. Put very simply, to run faster you must have a strong engine (your cardiovascular system), and highly efficient running mechanics or stride efficiency. You need both! We spend nearly all of our time concentrating on the engine, with very little time on running efficiency. Strides or short sprints target our neuromuscular system – how our brains actually get our muscles to fire and make us move. Adding two sessions of these a week, to the end of easy runs, will reap huge benefits as you feel your running form improve, and you begin to get that ‘gliding’ feeling. Begin with 6-8 to reps with a stride length of 8 seconds at pretty much flat out speed (feel free to start with a rolling start). This can be increased to 10 x10. It essential to have a long recovery between reps to allow your muscles to fully recover so you can sprint flat out and not to stress you CV system (this is being added to an easy run!).

Double Days

Although the idea can be daunting at first, just adding in a couple of double days a week has magical effects! As your running frequency increases to include double days you can feel your body ‘becoming a runner’ – which is an inevitability of running often. Double days allow you to increase millage without having to do 10+ miles on every run. Stuck for time? If possible try to make running a form of transport. Commuting to and from work can be incredibly liberating (especially when you pass cars stuck in traffic!). The second session you do only needs to be an easy or recovery run. Nothing at all taxing. We are adding mileage, and so improving aerobic base, with minimal fatiguing. If you haven’t tried double days and are already on 40+ miles, I urge you to try – you will not regret it!

Here’s to those 2016 PBs!