You may have had many years of running experience. And at the beginning, you may have seen plenty of improvements but as the years wore on, there were less. Now, you are wondering how to improve on your timings.
Here are some quick, basic tips on how to train for and then run a new Personal Best timing.
1. Hill training
Hills will help to improve your strength and endurance. So if you practise doing hills in training on a regular basis, you will improve your muscle power. And hill sprints – that is, to run up the hill as fast as possible – will improve the flexibility in your muscles and tendons, thereby reducing your chances of injuries.
To train for a road race, a typical hill should be roughly about six to ten per cent incline – this can be done outside if you are lucky enough to have hills nearby; if not, a gym treadmill also works well.
Once at the top of the hill you should jog down slowly – whilst backwards – to reduce the tension and pressure on your knees .
2. Strength Training
Besides hills, strength training exercises – targeting the shins, quads, calves, glutes and core muscles, will also help to make you into a more powerful and efficient runner.
Some simple strength training exercises include squats, lunges, calf raises and step-ups.
3. Know the Route
Being familiar with the route that you will be running on race day too, may mean the difference between setting a Personal Best and narrowly missing out on one.
This is because by being aware of the terrain and the curves along the route, you will feel more confident about these come race day – and you may even be whizzing past runners who may need the marshals to tell them when to make a turn.
4. Clock more mileageFor some runners, a lack of mileage may be an issue. While hill and speed workouts do have their advantages, they can’t completely do wonders though – so you will still need to run enough mileage to be able complete the actual race.
So try to go out and run more often – and that’s when you may start to see improvements. For example if you usually run three times a week, how about running four times a week, and then five? This may mean the difference between a new Personal Best or not.
But that said, listen to your body and don’t overtrain, though.
ON RACE DAY
1. Warm Up
On the day of the race, it will help if you do some simple warm-up exercises beforehand. These can be as easy as a short jog or walk – about 20 to 25 minutes before the race. These will help to loosen your muscles and gear them up for the race. This is especially important in an early morning race.
2. Maintain your form during uphills
When you run uphill, keep your running form constant. This means to keep your head and chest upright and relax your shoulders and hands. Do not clench your fists.
At the same time, do short strides – rather than bounce – and keep your feet close to the ground. Slow down your pace towards the beginning of the hill and increase it as you reach the top.
And focus on the top of the hill and not on the ground – this will give you incentive and motivation to keep going towards the top.
3. Hug the curves along the routeWhenever you have to make a turn, move in the direction that you will be making the turn as soon as possible and hug the curve – this will shorten the distance by a few millimetres, which can add up over time – and possibly mean the difference between a Personal Best or not.
4. Run efficiently and effortlessly on flat ground
When the terrain is flat, try and use less energy and effort in your running. To do this, keep your shoulders in front of your hips and let gravity propel you in a forward direction. This allows you to run at a fast pace and use less energy at the same time.
5. Finish StrongThis is easier to do, if you are familiar with the running route. Focus on running negative splits, which means to go conservatively at the beginning and pick up your pace when you have reached the halfway point of the race. It is especially motivating if you are able to zoom past runners who are struggling and burnt out, and may spur you on to run even faster.
And then, in the final part of the race, go all out, with all the energy that you can muster.