Secret #1: Consistency
Probably the most important thing with any training program is being consistent. If you’re not consistent with your training, and you are continually starting a program, then missing sessions, your body won’t be able to build on previous training to get fitter and stronger. You will be continually having to go back to the beginning and start again. If you miss a few sessions of your program and don’t drop your training down a bit when you start again, you risk injury as a result of stepping up your program too quickly. The single biggest roadblock to success I see with my clients is a lack of consistency in training.
The good news is, it’s quite easy to be consistent if you plan your training. You just need to be well organised.
Diarise your training time now. Take a pen out and write it in on your calendar, mark it in your electronic diary, however you do it, block your training time out now, for at least the next 6 weeks. Make sure everyone knows that is your time. Organise someone else to have your kids, dogs, cat, fish for that time. Don’t let anything get in the way of your training. Make sure you get out rain, hail or shine (but not electrical storms)! Tell your boss you can’t work back as you have an appointment, if working back is going to eat into your training time. If you had a doctor’s appointment you wouldn’t cancel it, so why cancel an appointment you have with the most important person in your life, YOU?
You’ll need to set aside time for 2-5 training sessions a week, of between 30 and 80 minutes (depending on the distance you are running and the level of training you want to do).
Secret # 2: Set Yourself a Goal
Write your goal down. Set aside some time to think about what your goal is. Is it to complete a fun run without stopping, or to run most of the way, or to raise a certain amount of money for charity, or to beat a previous best time, or to win the event outright? Whatever your motivation, write it down, say it out loud, put it out there. Be realistic about your goal. It’s great to aim high, but there’s not much point in aiming so high that you never quite hit your goals. Anyone who has an HR department in their workplace will probably have sat through lots of goal setting sessions, but it’s worthwhile reminding you here about setting SMART goals.
Your goals should be Specific – what are you going to do, how are you going to do it? A general goal would be “ to improve my running”. A specific goal would be “to improve my 5km run time by 15 seconds by the end of this training period” or by a specific date.
Your goals should be Measurable. Create a goal with measurable progress so you can see the change occur. eg I will beat my previous best time, or better still and more specific, I’ll beat my previous best time by 30 seconds” or “I’m going to run every step of the way”
Your goals should be Achievable and Attainable. For a goal to be attainable, achieving that goal needs to be important to you. If you don’t really mind what time you complete a 10km run in, then setting a goal of 60 minutes for 10km is not really going to motivate you to train to achieve that time. If what’s really important to you is losing a couple of kgs, and you’ve chosen running as a way of helping you to lose those kgs, then set yourself a weight related goal, rather than a goal centred on running. If however you are driven by beating your husband in a 10km race, set that as your goal. It will be far more attainable if tie your goal to what’s really important to you.
Your goals should be Realistic. This does not mean “easy”, it means “doable”. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. I would be driven by the thought of beating my husband in a fun run, very driven in fact, but I also know that this is totally unrealistic as there is no way I will even come close to beating him unless he breaks both his legs. So setting myself a goal of beating my husband in our next 10km fun run is setting myself up for failure from the start, and I know. Instead of motivating me, the goal would totally demotivate me. I’d be better off setting myself the goal of improving on my personal best time by a greater percentage than he improves on his. That would definitely give me some bragging rights!
Your goals should be Timely. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. Setting a clear time frame gives you a target to work towards.
Secret # 3: Be prepared to run slowly
This is particularly relevant if you are just getting back into running after a log break, or you have never really run much before. It’s important for a number of reasons. Like any sport, if you start out too hard to soon, you increase your risk of injury. Running puts quite a bit of stress on your body. The faster you run, the greater impact on your body.
Running slowly also allows you to run more, both in a single bout of training and cumulatively across your training program. The greater volume of training can be more beneficial for aerobic adaptations such as increased capilliarisation and mitochondrial density.
Secret # 4: Be prepared to run fast
You need to fresh enough after your long runs to be able to put in a good effort in interval training sessions to reap maximum benefit. You won’t be fresh from your long runs if you run them too fast, so being prepared to run fast (in some sessions) means you need to run slowly in other sesions. In a nutshell, running intervals will get you fit quick. Regular interval training will enable you to run faster for longer. It helps you to practice running faster without killing yourself, as you have recovery breaks, (or intervals) between each work bout. It can be tough runnning intervals on your own, so come along for a free trial at one of our interval running training groups, and see how running with a group can up the intensity.
Secret # 5: Increase your distance gradually
The rule of thumb for increasing your mileage is to keep it under a 10% increase each week. This applies to your total mileage, not just the length of your long run. This will help to minimise the risk of overuse injuries, or over training. Over training simply means you’ve trained too much and you are not giving your body enough time to recover. The training effect actually takes place when you are resting, not when you are training, so remember to include one week every 3-5 weeks where you ease off on your mileage.
Secret # 6: Plan your training.
Most campaigns come unstuck due to lack of planning. You rarely get the best out of yourself if you don’t have a training plan, guiding you towards your goal. Once you’ve set yourself a goal, write yourself a training plan and stick to it. The length of your training plan will depend on your goal. If you’re training for something even just 4 weeks away, a plan will help you get the most of the training time you have left. If If you need help with a training plan, Hooked on Health offers on-line training programs for all fun run race distances, from 4km to Marathons and beyond.
Find out more about our online distance running training programs.