PROBLEM: YOU WANT A PB
Most seasoned runners strive to notch up a new “personal best” time. But just how to improve your speed is the question. Jordan Ponder of Transform Health (transformhealth.com.au) recommends two of the toughest workouts: hills and Fartlek training. “Getting used to moving faster and being able to relax at that pace is the key to understanding your capabilities,” he says. Fartlek (literally “speed play” in Swedish) involves working at top pace for a stretch, then slowing to recover. “This allows you to know when you can go faster and when you need to go back into your comfort zone,” explains Ponder. Says O’Sullivan: “Interval sessions will not only improve your speed, but also make you a more efficient runner with a better running technique.”
PROBLEM: YOU SKIPPED SESSIONS
Some people love running solo, but having a training partner or belonging to a running group will help you hit your key sessions each week. “Running with a friend or group has many benefits, especially for beginners,” says O’Sullivan. “Good coaches will help with a program and your technique.” And here’s Ponder on the mood issue: “All of us have days where we feel like a soggy running shoe, but as the shoe was born to run, so were you.”
PROBLEM: YOU NEED A PLAN
If an upcoming running event is spurring you to train, beware of taking on too much too soon – it can result in injury. “If you are just beginning or coming back from long-term injury, the key is to build fitness gradually,” says O’Sullivan. Adds Ponder: “Injuries come from technique, tightness and excess weight. Firstly, match your exercise with a good diet to ensure you’re at a healthy weight – running is a lot easier if you’re not carrying an excess 5kg. Secondly, spend time recovering, as well as working on mobility and stability.” O’Sullivan advises runners use a range of exercises to strengthen their core and glutes, and incorporate a foam roller, stretching and massage into their recovery regimen.