By Vlad Shatrov, running coach, marathon runner, founder of Runlab and Blackmores Sydney Running Festival expert.
Successful runners are creatures of habit. They follow a consistent routine – with some strategic flexibility – that lets them get the most out of their training, without getting injured or burning out from overtraining.
As a runner, and having trained many runners in my career, these are the five things I see the most successful runners do. Use these tips to help you be prepared for race d ay.
1. Drill sessions to improve running style
Drills are a type of skill exercise, also known as technical work for runners. They focus on certain elements of form in an exaggerated movement and help make you more aware of things to focus on when you’re running. Beneficial drill exercises include high knees, butt kicks, grapevines, running backwards and skip marching.
2. Roll, massage and stretch
Foam rolling, yoga and stretching for flexibility and mobility and a massage to relieve tension and trigger points all have numerous benefits both physiologically and psychologically. In the week before an event, it’s actually the psychological benefits of these practices that are most important.
3. Functional strength training sessions
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common daily movements, which in your case, includes running. Functional strength training will help you:
- Increase lean muscle mass to support key running joints and help you maintain a fitter and stronger physique overall.
- Improve technique and form to ensure you engage the correct muscles when running.
- Create better awareness of your physical limitations, such as muscle imbalances, before they cause you an injury.
4. Replenish energy levels quickly and effectively post-training
Consume a recovery snack within 30-45 minutes’ post-exercise. This time frame optimises recovery and promotes the desired adaptations to hard training.
Also, keep in mind the four R’s of Recovery:
- Replenish glycogen (energy) stores in muscles with carbohydrates.
- Repair and regenerate broken down muscle tissue with protein.
- Rehydrate with fluids and electrolytes.
- Reinforce your immune system by choosing nutritious whole foods.
If you’re training hard but still feeling a bit worn out, you might also consider an exercise multivitamin to help your body produce energy and essential nutrients for your
5. Visually run through the course ahead of race day
In the few weeks before a race, start visualising the course during training and how you’re going to approach it. Even rehearse the feelings you’ll want to have. In an effective visualisation you’ll know what you’ll be wearing, what the scenery will look like and how you’ll feel mentally and physically. Use these visualisations to rehearse for any tough situations the day might throw your way.