Run faster and further

The best bet is to work with professional strength and conditioning coaches with an individualised schedule and a proper periodised regime. Here are some points to note.

The first thing to do is calculate your pace in the initial run, noting down the time to cover a particular distance. Depending on this reading, set up your training regime to reduce the time taken to cover that distance.   -  Getty Images

Building an endurance base and setting new goals in pushing yourself to reach the target time play very important roles in the overall fitness of a professional. And the new buzzword in endurance training is the 2k run, which has become mandatory for all cricketers to prove their fitness levels.

We have a few ways to reach the target through proper processes and protocols. We will look at not only cricket, but other sports too, as we look to enhance fitness levels to international standards.

The first thing to do is calculate your pace in the initial run, noting down the time to cover a particular distance. Depending on this reading, set up your training regime to reduce the time taken to cover that distance.

I have not suggested any workout schedule here in a generalised way since every athlete is unique to his or her sport and skills. The best bet is to work with professional strength and conditioning coaches with an individualised schedule and a proper periodised regime. This can be heart rate variability training, velocity-based training, Triphasic training, et cetera.

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Some points to ponder:

Prepare for uneasiness

Embarking on a running regime can be very daunting. Pushing oneself against time in a race can be a real challenge, with loads of discomfort, breathlessness and soreness. This can be overcome as the body get accustomed to the increased running. This is the first step towards success.

Run more often

Set up a weekly mileage pattern. Some people prefer to run daily, while others twice weekly. If one is to see an improvement in pace and timing, one needs to hit the ground running at least thrice a week, with specific goals for each session.

Perfect your running mechanics

It has been proven that proper running mechanics can shear valuable seconds or even minutes off your timing in races. Making minor adjustments to your posture, arm movement or foot position can increase the efficiency of your running — i.e. decrease your energy expenditure. This is a point that is often neglected.

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Count your strides

This is another factor that is often overlooked. Measure the length and frequency of your stride. For example, for a 5k at a particular pace and note the time when your right foot hits the ground. Double this to know your stride frequency. As you monitor and improve your stride frequency, you’ll become a more efficient and better runner with low levels of fatigue and discomfort. The most efficient elite runners will have a high stride turnover. By increasing your stride turnover, you can run faster and further.

Many coaches put the target stride rate at about 180 steps per minute. But there can be substantial variation, especially with highly trained runners. Studies have shown that elite runners modulate their stride rate, even increasing it to 190 per minute from 210-216 per minute during races. Thus, research suggests that the best stride rate is highly individualised among elite runners.

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Schedule tempo runs

Tempo runs, or runs at a slightly slower pace, help you develop your anaerobic threshold, which is important for running faster. Many fast runners schedule at least one tempo run each week. Anaerobic threshold is the exertion at which the body switches from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism.

Beach running helps in increasing stability and works on the hip- and knee-stabilising muscle groups.   -  K. R. Deepak

 

Do speed work

Speed work is intended to help you run faster. One way to do such workouts is to practise structured interval training. This involves covering a specific distance in a specific time for shorter distances with specific rest ratios between each set. Intensity is key here.

Practise fartleks

“Fartlek” is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” Fartleks are simple, quick bursts of speed that vary in distance and intensity. There are modest ways to incorporate fartleks in your runs to help you get faster. A simple way is to target markers on the grounds; sprint from one to the next, then recover between the next two. Time and duration in fartlek training are important for increasing speed in the long run.

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Incorporate hill or beach training

Running on a hill or a beach can improve your running economy and efficiency. Uphill running helps in developing a good knee drive and lower foot contact with the ground. With good posture, this in turn helps in increasing speed. Beach running helps in increasing stability and works on the hip- and knee-stabilising muscle groups. Running on the beach uses up 1.6 times the amount energy as running on a firm surface.

Tempo runs or intervals or fartlek sessions can be incorporated in hill and beach training.

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Recover properly

This is the most underrated protocol. Many feel it’s a waste of time or they feel guilty in taking a break. Little do they realise the extra edge in performance that a break gives them. Recovery is important in injury prevention and workload management.

Follow a proper training plan

The most important step is devising a proper training plan. A target-based training module with a good template for other supporting fitness components is critical for overall fitness. Strength and conditioning coaches in tandem with physiotherapists can design individualised schedules with block, undulated or random periodisation modules. Athletes need to adhere to this plan to see results in a progressive manner.

This is the first of a two-part series on endurance training. Read the second part in the April 17 issue of Sportstar.

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