In a new feature, Si Kristiansen explains the virtues of regular training.
Every second, our body is in a state of deterioration and repair, with millions of cells dying and replaced at similar rates. Our body is always seeking homeostasis or in other words seeking balance.There are a number of factors we need to consider when looking to improve our performance as a runner. Just like our body seeking homeostasis, we too need to achieve balance in our training in order to fully maximise our athletic potential.
Training principles are fundamental in developing our potential. But first I want to explore the three areas in which I feel can progress our running.
1. The first is VO2 MAX. We have all heard of this, to put it basically- our Vo2 max means the amount of oxygen we can utilise in our muscles. In endurance running, we are highly dependant on aerobic capacity (oxygen system). The more efficient we are in utilising the oxygen we breath in, the better runner we will be. This is where training thresholds comes in to play and using our respective heart rate as a gauge to tailor our individual training needs.
[Side note] Our heart is essentially a muscle that works as a pump. As we grow older our heart rate decreases- this however does not determine our fitness capabilities. Stroke volume is the key determinant in this area and basically means how efficient the heart is at pumping the blood through our body. So someone with a more efficient heart will pump more blood less often.
We can all improve our Vo2 max to a certain point. An untrained person can increase there Vo2 max dramatically over just a number of weeks of quality training before it starts to plateau. This is where we may see a person climbing through our training groups initially, but then not progressing much further for a while- it is therefore important to be patient and keep working hard on the other two areas…
2. LACTATE THRESHOLD- basically means the amount of stress we can put our muscles through before our muscles can’t maintain the stress level any longer. It is therefore important to train this threshold, which I must add takes years to fully develop and maintain. In order to improve as a runner, we need to improve this by running slightly under and slightly over our LT. This can be done by incorporating ‘tempo’ into our training regime and by adapting the intensity and recovery times in our intervals.
3. The third piece of this jig saw is our TECHNIQUE as a runner. This is probably the most important factor upon improving performance, as this not only gels the above two areas together, but also promotes longevity in our athletic endeavours. Our technique is broken down into: 1. resistance to movement and 2. mechanical efficiency. Before we briefly explore these, I would just like to stress that no one should ever actively change or alter their technique unless advised by a health professional! This should be an organic process improved over time. I will elaborate on how we can improve our technique in a later post.
When we run or do any type of physical movement for that matter- our body is constantly fighting against gravity, friction and our own body weight in which we can only alter in certain environments- training at altitude is one environment that instantly comes to mind. In sports science we refer to this as ‘potential performance velocity’ which can get very complex, but the basics under this umbrella are factors such as aerodynamics, flexibility, strength, and also the mechanical effectiveness of our technique, ie muscle mass, technical mastery and muscle type that are all intertwined in this very simple sport of ours; that at the end of the day we can perform, simply by putting one foot in front of the other…So we have established three areas which help mould an endurance runner. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses- we must endeavour to recognise what these are as a runner and look to improve our weakness whilst building on our strengths with the correct training methods and guidance.
Tyne Bridge Harriers is very proud to promote equality and moreover believe that each member have the opportunity to reach their full potential as an athlete, whether just starting out or a seasoned ‘veteran’! With that said, all TBH sessions are created to compliment each other and build toward our goal racing blocks throughout the year. The next block being the races either side of the GNR. The block after will peak us for the National Cross Country Championships being held in London in February and then the 2015 London and Edinburgh Marathons respectively.
In the next TBH Training blog, we will explore ‘training principles’ (overload, recovery, adaption and most importantly specificity) that are used in conjunction to build on the three areas discussed in this blog. We will also identify the pro’s and con’s of cross training and when to incorporate strength and circuit based anaerobic high intensity training into an endurance athletes regime.
Remaining injury free and continually improving through systematic quality and varied training sessions is key to allow our body to adapt and build into a stronger more efficient balanced runner.