People get enthusiastic about an activity, start serious training, and initially find that their performance gets worse.
The major reason for this decrease in performance is fatigue or injury from overtraining. Overtraining is a viscous circle of deteriorating performance, more training, worse performance, harder training, and so on.
Overtraining is caused by a lack of understanding of the basic components of training program design. This article will cover the basics of designing a training plan, and some ideas for training for running specifically.
The first consideration is designing a training program called “frequency” of training, the “how often?” of training.
When you decide to increase the frequency of training, you will need to develop a weekly training plan. You will have to mix up your training sessions, so that you don’t have two hard sessions on consecutive days; you do have at least one day per week of rest from running, and you keep up at least three aerobic endurance sessions per week.
● For basic aerobic endurance, you need to train at a minimum frequency ; of three times per week, at an easy continuous pace.
● To develop muscle endurance such as a 400m or 800m runner needs, you need two sessions per week, training at medium intensity.
● To develop power; such as a sprinter, you need at least one session per week training, but this must be at maximum intensity.
A beginner runner, or someone coming back to a running program after a layoff of over four weeks, should start off.with a run/walk program, three times per week, with one or two rest days between each training session.
Warm up with brisk walking, and when you are feeling comfortable, jog until you get puffed, or your legs get tired. Slow down and walk.
If the muscles at the back of your lower legs (your calf muscles), feel tight at any time, stop and stretch them. To do this, you copy all those runners you have seen that seem to be trying to push over trees, walls, railings etc.
Stand facing a solid object, say a wall, about arms length away. Put your hands against the wall, and step back with one leg. Push the heel of this leg down toward the ground, until you feel a gentle stretch in the calf muscle of that leg. Hold the position until the stretch disappears. Try the stretch on the other calf muscle. This only takes 10 to 20 seconds for each leg.
The basic plan for aerobic endurance is to run for at least 40 minutes, four times a week, such as Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Aerobic endurance is the long, slow distance type of running, where you run without getting out of breath.
A runner who wants to develop a quicker finish would train for aerobic endurance four times a week, say Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They would then put in a twenty minute sprint session twice a week. Sprints are designed to increase leg speed, and a good combination is to train on an oval, and sprint the straights, and run the curves. Sprint sessions would then be on Tuesdays and Thursday. Sunday would be a rest day.
A runner looking to create some speed during an event would take up “fartlek” training or “threshold bounce” running, four times a week (say Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). Instead of their normal runs at a constant speed, they would occasionally sprint as hard as they can for five to ten seconds, then slow down to their normal running pace for five to ten minutes. They would also do speed training once a week (on Tuesday), and long, slow distance work once a week (on Saturday). Once again, Sunday is a rest day.
If you decide to create a plan, remember to be constantly listening to your body, and how it is coping with the training sessions. If it is not coping, swap a rest day or an easy day with your plan for that day, or just go for a slow run that day. On the other hand, if you feel great, make that day a hard workout day.