With roughly 400 running events Australia wide it’s no wonder that you want to get involved in the fun, however this can be slightly problematic if you’re not a runner and have signed up to one… First things first, don’t try and attack it like a pro-runner, you’re likely to end up bed-bound the following day. Alternatively, approach your last minute training with these tips in mind.
Starting out, adopt a fartlek running approach which is known as speed play and involves periods of taking it easy followed by sprints. The idea behind it is that it helps promote neuromuscular adaptions which improve fitness and stride. This is a particularly useful technique if you’ve signed up to a popular run like the City 2 Surf where you’re constantly slowing down, dodging to overtake, followed by intervals of sprints to get around people. If you’re really pressed for time, focus on some hill sprints which improve your lactic acid threshold and therefore improve muscle efficiency.
For anyone that hasn’t run in some time, it’s wise to warm up the glutes and joints which support the weight of the body. The consequence of not warming up before a run can be excessive jarring on the knee joints meaning you’re likely to finish the race walking. Before heading off on a run, warm up with dynamic exercises which help engage the glutes so they can shoulder the weight of the body as well as warm up the joints.
Butt kicks – on the spot jog and extend your foot back to hit your bottom
Side shuffle – move right to left side to side with short strides
Leg swing – hold on to a chair or a running buddy and swing your leg forward and back followed by facing and holding on to a wall or chair and swinging one leg at a time in front of the body right to left.
Freestyle arms – as you would in the pool but a little faster, windmill your arms back and forth.
Make sure your breakfast is HI GI as your body needs to burn through the carbs to sustain your muscles. This may sound a bit cringe but I like to drink a black coffee to make sure the train leaves the tunnel, the last thing you want is the urge mid-run, need I say more! Pack a banana before the race for the sugar and maybe some lollies in your pocket for while you’re running.
Recovery is just as important as the run itself, especially if you haven’t been training. Since you’re activating new muscle groups they’re bound to fatigue, meaning post-run stretch and therapies are essential. Straight after the run, stretch to prevent your muscles from seizing up. I like to foam roll to reduce tension build-up and target the main muscle groups like the quads, glutes and calf. A tennis ball can also be great to get into the nitty gritty areas that a foam roller can’t reach. Epsom salts are also great for recovery as they aid in muscle relaxation. Soak your feet or your body in a bucket or bath, which is not only promoting recovery but will be incredibly enjoyable. Alternatively, a float tank the following day which can assist with any post-run pain.
This article was written by Ben Lucas, PT and Director of Flow Athletic