Running tips for the experienced runner

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Running tips for the experienced runner

If you're looking to increase your distance, your biggest hurdle is not having a plan, says Lucy Smith, a 19-time Canadian champion in distance running and multisport. "Winging it and making it up as you go based on how you feel leads to inconsistent training," says Smith, who works as a coach with LifeSport Coaching in Victoria. Consider, after all, the fact that you have a life – a job, children or other commitments – to fit in with your training.

Cross-train. If you want to improve as a runner, you have to do other types of exercise too. "What limits runners is mechanical breakdown, not their aerobic capacities," says Nathan Mellalieu, owner of Studeo55, a health club in Vancouver. "Their knees or hips start to hurt, for example, and it's because that structure is not stable or well conditioned enough to sustain the demands running puts on them." Mellalieu recommends dynamic training in three dimensions ("Running is just linear," he explains), such as strength training (he suggests squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups and step-ups), agility training (think of running, hopping and jumping drills using an agility ladder, for example) and core conditioning.

Think positively when it comes to your training.
"You have to learn how to cope with the sensation of ‘running hard,' rather than thinking of it as pain, and how to stay strong in terms of mental endurance. Let's not call it boredom; that has a negative connotation," says Smith.

Break long runs into chunks to help you focus. Say you have a run that will take an hour and 15 minutes. Smith suggests thinking of it as three components: "In the first 15 minutes, your purpose is to warm up. The next two chunks are half an hour each. Think of the last part as 15 minutes at a sustained pace with a loose, easy run to the end." On long-distance runs, fuelling and hydrating can help break your run into chunks too.

Hill train to build strength. Rather than choosing a killer hill, Smith suggests running up a hill with a five to six percent grade and completing 90-second to two-minute repeats (running up and down), including a recovering interval, ideally on a soft surface such as grass to lessen the impact on your body.

Half-marathon (21K) training plan (16 weeks)
Week 1 of 16
Monday: 7K easy run
Tuesday: 45-minute
variable run*
Wednesday: Strength training
Thursday: 7K easy run
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 9K easy run
Sunday: Rest

Running Regimen
For your variable run,* complete speed work, a tempo run or hill training. "Increase it to 60 minutes after 8 weeks of training," says Lea Amaral, cofounder of Energia Athletics in Toronto. Increase Thursday's run to 9K after Week 8. For your long run on Saturdays, add 1K each week up until Week 13. Cut your run down to 15K in Week 14, and 12K in Week 15. Your Monday runs should also get longer, says Amaral. Add 1K every other week, but taper to 9K and 7K in weeks 14 and 15 respectively.

Yuki Hayashi, age 38 (ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig 42K Marathon)
"I've tried to run many times in the past few years, but it never stuck. But something caught within me last year, and now I go nuts if I can't get out for at least two runs per week. I might never be a five-day-a-week runner or a ‘fast' marathoner, but the sense of accomplishment I got from completing the marathon is unmatched. It was one of the best days of my life, even if I couldn't walk for the rest of the afternoon."

Make sure you run with ease with this essential running gear. Don't forget to stay hydrated and fuelled

This story was originally titled "Add 40 years to your life" in the September 2013 issue.

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Running tips for the experienced runner