The famous Sydney Running Festival is coming up this weekend, so whether you have been training for the event for months, or if you are just going to ‘wing it’ like so many others, I have some tips for you regarding bad running habits and how to fix them.
Building up milage too quickly and getting injured
While this tip would be more suitable for someone who is training themselves up for an event, it’s a very common mistake and one that I would like to point out anyway. Too often I hear of people signing up for a running event and then deciding that to prepare for it, they need to be running around 22KMs in each training session. After all, practicing your race distance in training will mean that you can definitely achieve it come race day right? Well actually, it’s probably more likely to lead to injury before you even get to the start line.
If you haven’t run for a while, then it’s important to build up your kilometres gradually and don’t do long runs every day. If you are a beginner, start by running around 5kms on your long run day, and then slowly build up from there. If the 5kms takes you 40 minutes, then the next week run for 50 minutes and so on.
[ images from blackmores running festival ]
Not Varying Your Training
Further to the above point, in a training week you need to be doing more than just a long run day. I suggest completing at least one fartlek training day (speed play) and a hill sprint-training day too.
Fartlek training is when you jog or walk (take it easy) for a certain period of time and then you all out sprint. It’s a great way to stimulate neuromuscular changes that will ultimately help you boost your speed and improve your stride. It’s also useful to practice as you will probably need to overtake a lot of people during the Sydney Running Festival so you may as well practice speeding up in training.
On hill sprint day, try to find a hill that is around 100m high and do around 5-6 sprints in the session.
It’s good to practice hills because they help improve your lactic threshold. Furthermore, if you train on a flat track all the time, and then the race track has a 2km hill in it, it’s going to hurt! You may as well prepare for this in training.
It’s also a good idea to include running specific strength training if you are running a longer distance as you want to work on any imbalances that you may have and strengthen the specific muscles used in running such as the glutes, hamstrings and core. Ensuring that you’re strong enough to maintain good posture for the duration of the distance is also key too.
[ image from beautyofexcercise.com.au ]
Wearing the Wrong Running Shoes
Regardless of what the fashion pages say, not all feet are created equal and therefore not every shoe is going to be suitable for everyone, even if it looks good on someone you admire.
When shopping for a running shoe, make sure you go to a store that has experts who can guide you, or better still, have the capability to do the footprint test and point you in the right direction when it comes to brands and style. Stores such as Rebel Sport have the ability to do this.
If you’re purchasing new shoes for a running festival, make sure that you wear them in prior to race day. You need to get your feet used to them as the last thing you want is blisters come race day.
Wearing the wrong clothing
Here is another one where people go wrong. When you’re running a longer distance, it pays to have the right gear or you are going to get very uncomfortable very quickly.
Try to avoid clothes that have scratchy seams and tops that don’t breathe and hold onto sweat. Moisture wicking fabrics are best as they can help keep you dry and help avoid chafing. An appropriate supporting sports crop top is necessary too.
Compression can be a good option to run in as it keeps the muscle warm, often has minimal seams and sticks to the body so you don’t have to worry about it riding up on you.
Also beware not to overdress. It’s often cool in the morning when the running festival starts, so wear a top or singlet and bring a light jacket that you can throw away or easier tie around your waist.
ABOUT BEN LUCAS
Ben has been in the fitness industry for over 16 years. He was formerly an NRL player for the Sharks before he started running marathons and ultra marathons. In fact he ran 35 marathons and 5 ultras in the space of 5 years.
Ben trains the likes of Erin Holland, Cassie Howarth, Monique Wright, Edi Barthomew. He is also married to channel 7’s Talitha Cummins and the pair are expecting their first child in August 2016.