Melbourne Podiatry Clinic

Want To Improve Your Run Times? Find Out How

Man Running Reaching Finish LineWe all strive to beat our previous run time. It’s easy to just go out and run faster but how do we do that without getting injured? Most people develop running injuries when they do “too much, too soon, too quickly”. They feel good during a run and push themselves a lot harder and longer than they’ve gone before, either by increasing the amount of kms they do in a week by too much or trying to run faster than they have before. Now of course it is important to consistently increase the load through training as this is the fundamental way we adapt physiologically, but how much is too much and what sort of training should you do each week. This question is hard to answer as we are all different and we all respond to the stresses placed on our body differently. One runner may respond to high intensity workouts well with a dramatic increase in performance. While another athlete may respond poorly to the same program and become overtrained or injured. So how do we know how hard to push ourselves or how to reduce our risk of injury? You don’t! It takes time and knowledge and you need to seek professional help to develop a program that is right for you.As a Sports Podiatrist I generally see a runner when they are injured. This is normally due to overuse, poor training, improper shoes or issues with their biomechanics. The first thing we do with a runner who has developed a running injury is sit down and take a thorough history. I want to know their past and present running injuries, their running experience and scrutinise their training program. We leave no stone unturned when constructing a complete picture of the runner as this is crucial in being able to provide specific, relevant advice. The next step is to examine exactly how the athlete’s body functions and look to establish the underlying cause of the injury. A complete musculoskeletal assessment is conducted looking at joint range of motion, quality of movement, muscle strength and tone and locating the source of the pain. From there we begin the comprehensive video gait analysis. Our unique gait analysis system allows us to view the runner from three different angles to allow us to identify flaws in running technique and isolate the cause of the problem. Upon reviewing the video gait assessment we will then prescribe the necessary treatments to resolve the issues that may involve exercise modification, gait re-training, strength programs, orthotic therapy or running shoe modification. All of these will be discussed following a detailed explanation of the results. The video will then be sent with a verbal report highlighting and explaining the key points of the gait analysis.

So how do you run faster?

One of most effective ways to improve your run times is Interval Training. Interval training involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with a form of active recovery. Interval training can help to avoid injuries that often accompany continuous, repetitive activity. It also provides the opportunity to increase your intensity without burning yourself out in a matter of minutes. The advantages of interval training are that it utilises both the body’s aerobic and anaerobic energy-producing systems. The aerobic system allows you to work for several minutes/hours using oxygen to convert carbohydrates/fats into energy. While, the anaerobic system draws energy from carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity such as sprinting, jumping or lifting heavy objects. It is very relevant for all athletes from sprinters and middle distance runners to marathoners and triathletes.

How to do it

In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout. In a more advanced program it may involve increasing bouts of intense efforts with decreasing recovery. Both are aimed to stimulate adaptation and change in the physiological systems that help you run faster. By running above your normal running pace, allows you to perform at a higher intensity for longer. If you continue to run at a comfortable easy pace during training then you won’t see any improvement in your run times. If you train slow, you will race slow! The simplest way for any novice runners to begin interval training safely is to download the Couch to 5k app. This app gives you step by step instructions, including interval sessions that slowly build in intensity to allow you to run 5km. If you have been running for a while then I recommend seeking a qualified running coach to create a customised running program specifically aimed at your goals.

Interval training shouldn’t substitute your entire running program. If you are training for a marathon then it is still important to include a long run in your schedule, but what interval training can do for you is make your comfortable running pace, faster! By facilitating more rapid adaption to training, interval training will not only help you run faster but also decreasing your risk of injury.

Here is more information on the benefits of Interval Training.

Andrew Maitland is a sports podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic. Having worked closely with many elite and amateur runners over the years he has helped many people in the prevention and treatment of running injuries.

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