Amy Lane's Run Tips
Starting a new running programme, whether marathon focussed or not, can feel daunting. It was this fear of the unknown, along with the worry of not being fast enough that put me off tackling any more than 13.1 miles for years. But then I watched women around me—some twice my age—pull on their Luxtreme and train for the joy of achieving the distance, not a race time. It was this that inspired my recent running journey. Over the past 12 months I’ve really come to grips with running. I’ve learned that much of what you need to become a better runner doesn’t happen on the road, but in the gym. I’ve discovered that calling on app communities can make an oft solitary sport a social one. And I’ve found that running really can increase self-contentment. With this in mind, here are my running essentials, but pace yourself, this isn’t your normal runner’s stuff.
As with any sport, going H.A.M. in your first week or two can either end in injury, or pure dislike for running. It’s important, then, to respect the hard-to-beat 10 Percent Rule. So if you’re running a total of 10km at present, only add another 1km next week. Keep building this until your weekly distance is equal to the first week of the structured training plan you wish to follow. A complete running newbie? In your first month, ignore distance all together and just get used to running regularly. Aim for three times a week. Once you’ve managed this start tracking your training sessions and follow the advice above.
Here’s a stat for you: A marathon consists of around 55,000 reps. Punchy, right? And for your body to get through this unscathed you need to be strong, which you often can’t do without a dedicated strength sessions. I found that two gym-based sessions a week to strengthen hamstrings, glutes, and my core made running easier and therefore more enjoyable. In less than a month I noticed I was better coordinated, less wobbly and had increased stride efficiency.
MIX UP YOUR RUNS
To get fitter, faster and find running fun it’s important to keep things interesting. One of the best ways I found to do this was to add speed work into my running week. Not only does it break up the monotony of easy-pace miles, but it helps to improve your VO2 max.
Example speed session:
-Warm up 1km easy pace (start walking and ease into around 9/10 or 6 mph)
-12x 200m intervals @12 kph / 7.4 mph with 0.2kph/ 0.1 mph increases every interval
-1 minute recovery between every interval at fast walk to slow run pace
-Cool down 1km super easy run decreasing to walk
JOIN A RUNNING COMMUNITY
These days runners check in around the world 24-7 by using a running app. I’ve found Strava to be really motivating thanks to the ‘kudos’ button. Plus, there’s a ‘challenge’ section so you can sign up to monthly goals and meet others doing the same. If you’re taking your first tentative steps into running these can be a lot less scary then signing up to an official race. You can also use apps like these to research run routes when you travel. The beauty of running is that you are your own gym—so long as you pack your trainers you can hit the road.
TRACK YOUR TRAINING
There’s a fine line between using statistics to keep you motivated and getting so consumed with clock watching that you check out of the activity itself. I found that waiting until the end of a run to suss out my stats (preferably while rehydrating with a pint of electrolytes and water) is the best way for me to use run data. I look at the split times and think back to my run: did I speed up because I was going downhill? Or did I slow because of gradient? Perhaps, my pace changed as I switched from a podcast to power music. Spending a few minutes thinking about the miles before and then adding notes into my Strava helps educate future runs.
“The wall” is very real and can happen at any time. It’s the moment when everything starts to fall apart: your stride changes, your legs feel like lead, and even breathing becomes really tough. It’s brutual. However, there are steps you can take in your training to help delay (and hopefully stop) this roadblock from happening:
The general rule of thumb on long runs—those over 75 minutes—is to take on board energy every 60 minutes. For some runners this energy will be dates or Jelly Babies, for others it’s sports drinks or nut butter. For me, it’s a combination of running gels and caffeine shots every five miles when racing. During training I discovered that I was burning through my energy stores faster than most as my pace would slow from mile six onwards, so I started to fuel around every 45 minutes. The key to fuelling is getting to know your body so that on race day you don’t out-run your energy stores.
Work on your wobble
Your legs keep you moving forward and your core keeps you upright. I start every run with two rounds of dead bugs to fire up my midsection and stop me from wobbling around. It’s this activation— along with ensuring dedicated core strength exercises in training—that help with good posture when fatigued. Why? Because, the less you hunch and the more you keep your lower ribs tucked toward your spine, shoulder blades low and neck long with chin slightly tucked the easier those last few miles will be. Promise.
Negotiate with negativity
The last few kilometres of a very long run can be overwhelming. Your mind begins to question whether you can finish and you desperately search out the distance markers. At times like these set yourself mini goals. For example, tell yourself you just need to reach the next traffic light. The once there, set yourself another goal. I used this on the London Marathon and it worked.
Contrary to popular belief, carb loading for a race doesn’t have to be a week-long affair. I start mine about 48 hours before a race with every meal 50 percent complex carbs. My favourites are sweet potato fries with wasabi mayonnaise or vegan sourdough pizza. Expect lots of beige-heavy Instagram posts around SeaWheeze.
Come race day, there’s no other choice but to go with the flow. At 5:30am you’ll find me on my yoga mat. There, I practice a few rounds of breathwork. Inhale positivity, exhale nerves. DYNAMIC STRETCHES Warm-ups should mimic the exercise to come, so you’ll always find me lunging in the corner of the starting pen. I also do high knees and hip openers. I also nom a few Jelly Babies because, energy...
Shorts, vest, sports bra, socks? Check. Since beginning marathon training I’ve invested in plenty of speed socks. Not that I want to tempt fate but I haven’t had a blister since.
During the tough moments of training a playlist can make or break your run. I blast my ‘running to ’90s boy bands’ playlist when the mileage gets tough. I’ve also found musical soundtracks to be pretty motivating. Good headphones are essential and I’ve found mine in Powerbeats Wireless. They go the distance and fit my pixie-like ears perfectly.
In the past, I’ve tried to visualise the race course during tough sessions. The idea is that on the day I can recall surviving these gruelling moments and it will help motivate me to push on.