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PT365 Run Plans: Elements of efficient running – Part 1

PT365 Run Plans: Elements of efficient running – Part 1

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Consider this your primer on the Run Plans — a little bit of background to understand the methodology behind the charts. Don’t be overwhelmed though, it boils down to: Have fun, be smart and be patient.

Check back next week for Parts 2 and 3.

Pre-assessment

If you’re new to any fitness program, we highly recommend seeing a fitness specialist and going through the Cooper Institute five-step process for “breaking down barriers” or something similar. Your pre-assessment should include:

* Medical screening

* Fitness and nutrition assessment

* Goal setting

* Exercise and nutrition prescription tailored for you

* Discussion on adherence: How can you make activity a daily habit?

32 principles of healthy running

Consider these the 32 commandments from “Dr. Mark.” Don’t be overwhelmed — they boil down to: Have fun, be smart and be patient. They are the foundation of the training plans, so be sure to get familiar with them before you jump into training.

1. Train the endurance engine first: Most, if not all, of your training should be below your maximum aerobic heart rate. Find yours using Dr. Phil Maffetone’s “180 Formula” in this week’s Need to Know section.

2. Do not jump into harder running too soon: Pushing hard through poor and underdeveloped movement patterns is a ticket to injury.

3. Devote an hour a day to your health. Count your post-workout shower and change.

4. Strides, drills and short hills can be added from the start to help progressively develop strength and coordination.

5. Incorporate fun and variety. Find types of runs and locations that are enjoyable for you and provide the appropriate challenge and stimulus.

6. Have patience. It takes eight to 12 weeks for cardiorespiratory and muscular/metabolic adaptations to occur, and eight weeks for strength and flexibility. These adaptations continue to build progressively for years.

7. Body composition changes take eight to 12 weeks.

8. Play! Focus on the relaxation of running and walking.

9. Don’t sit all day.

10. Running faster is not always better; in fact, it rarely is. More than half a century ago, iconic trainer Arthur Lydiard hit the nail on the head when he coined the phrase, “Train, don’t strain.”

11. Always run with correct technique.

12. Exercise is not only good for your brain — it is essential.

13. Get in touch with your human springs. Your body has monster-truck shocks in the feet, ankles, Achilles, knees and hips. Do not overstride — landing with your foot far forward of your body with a braking force and taking the load in your joints.

14. Always start off slower than you plan to finish. Take it easy upfront, and slowly relax and build momentum as your body allows.

15. Teach your body to stay relaxed at the start and carry that with you into your workout. Keep your posture aligned, but relax your shoulders, arms, hips and lower legs. Tension creates inertia and can slow you down.

16. If your breathing is labored, slow down, shorten your stride or take a short walking break.

17. Warm up and loosen before you run. Stretch regularly after you run.

18. Keep your posture tall but with a slight lean from the ankles. Think “face forward.”

19. Set your countdown timer on a watch or phone to remind yourself to check in with your technique and to relax your shoulders, arms and lower legs.

20. Hydrate before and after every workout. You do not need sugary sport drinks.

21. Follow a harder workout with an easier one or a day off.

22. Run with a cadence of between 170 to 180 steps per minute.

23. Relaxed speed comes from fartleks or surges — short sustained bursts of acceleration — and not necessarily on a track.

24. Short hills are great strength builders.

25. Downhills are great for coordination and speed development. Use them to stretch your legs without effort.

26. Breathe deeply from your belly, not in shallow, quick breaths.

27. Mix up your workouts to keep your activity playful and interesting.

28. Have a plan, but be willing to modify it if needed. Listen to what your body needs and what it can handle on any given day.

29. There’s no rule that says you have to run the entire way. Take short recovery breaks if you need them.

30. Rehearse your pace a couple of times in the month before a race.

31. Set goals and chart them.

32. Make physical activity a daily habit.

Positive affirmations

Runners can use positive statements or thoughts to activate the power of the mind. With time and repetition, the statement is accepted by the mind as true, resulting in an overall sense of well-being, energy and belief.

Runners can use affirmations to bring about a desire or result they wish to achieve. Goals could include simply having a great training run, achieving a personal best time in a race or test, overcoming anxiety around the fitness test or completing an event for the first time.

You can use “I” or “you.” Often the second person, “you,” is more powerful.

Create your own affirmations and repeat them daily. The best ones are those you make up.

Here are a few examples.

* You are a strong runner.

* You feel powerful and springy.

* You are getting faster.

* You are relaxed and focused.

* You are light and fast.

* You love the hills.

* You are getting strong and healthy.

More to come: Look for Part 2 next week.

Mark Cucuzzella

Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Cucuzzella is a professor of family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine. He is also designing programs to reduce running injuries in service members. He’s been a competitive runner for 30 years — with more than 100 marathon and ultramarathon finishes — and continues to compete as a national-level Masters runner. His marathon best is 2:24, and he’s won the Air Force Marathon twice, including in 2011 (2:38) a week shy of his 45th birthday.