GPP is made up of sets of small exercises that have several aims:
- muscle strengthening
- coordination (upper and lower body)
- improving your stride by making it more dynamic as well as more energy efficient (use less energy when exerting the same amount of effort),
- and lastly, to round out your warm-up routine before an interval training session.
These exercises should always be done on soft ground.
Before an interval training session (VO2max, threshold, slopes)
After jogging for 20 minutes, perform the following 4 major types of exercises in 2 sets of 50 m. Recover between each repetition by walking the return leg.
- Knee lifts: lift the knee by pushing off the ground quickly while keeping your upper body straight up and working your arms.
- Heel-to-buttocks: quickly bring your heel up to your buttocks. Keep the upper body bent forward slightly, and work your arms.
- Extended leg run: keep legs fully extended, upper body bent slightly back. Strike the ground with the forefoot. As soon as your foot leaves the ground, point your toe upward.
- Bounding strides: make as long of a stride as possible. Lift one leg up while the other pushes off the ground, and stay in the air between steps. Again, working the arms is essential.
After these exercises, run 2 or 3 sprints. You are now ready to start your interval training session.
A full GPP session at the start of the season
A full GPP session lasts for 1 to 1.5 hours.It is especially suited for experienced competitors, and takes place at the start of the season. It can be done in place of a regular training session, or in addition to your usual routine.
For a full GPP, start with the same exercises listed earlier, and then add the following:
- Hop-scotch: jump as high and as fast as possible on your left leg (30 cm jump), and then again on the right leg. Repeat this exercise twice.
- Running backwards: run backwards, trying to reproduce the same stride as when running forwards at a slower speed. Stretch out far behind with each stride, while keeping your body aligned as usual.
- Climbing stairs: find a set of stairs (20 or so)—stadium stands are ideal—and run up energetically in the following patterns: 1 step at a time, 2 steps at a time, hopping, etc.
- Walking squats: while walking, take very large steps by bending one knee at a right angle while fully extending the other. Use your hands and thighs to propel yourself forward.
- Exercises using short hurdles or slats placed very close together.
- Exercises using hoops placed in a staggered pattern.
GPP exercises you can do at home
Some GPP exercises can be done indoors at home, for example, in the morning or the evening. These include core exercises, ab workouts, press-ups, etc.
- Core strengthening, 4 sides: push on your forearms, facing the ground.
Repeat while facing the ceiling, then on your left side and again on the right side. (Start off with sets of 30 seconds each and then work up to 1 minute.)
These exercises are essential for strengthening the abdominal area (reduces chance of injury, less spinal compression at the end of a run, etc.)
- The chair: with your back pressed against a wall, adopt a sitting position, with your hips and knees at right angles.
Do this in sets of 3 x 30 seconds, increasing your sets as the weeks go by. This is good preparation for trail running, especially for those who don't have access to much gradient (both up and down) while training.
- Press-ups: face the ground, arms extended, body rigid. Lower yourself to the ground and then back up. Beginners may choose to do an easier version of this exercise by keeping their knees on the ground.
- Half-squats: with legs spread slightly apart, place arms horizontally. Slowly lower your hips down to knee level, while keeping your torso straight and leaning slightly forward. Keep your feet fully flat on the ground. Come back up. Repeat 10 times. Extend to 2 or 3 sets over the weeks.
- Jump rope: including all possible variations.
Upon completing these exercises, it's essential that you do a series of stretches.
"As you can see, making PROGRESS takes more than just running. Other exercises can help you IMPROVE. But keep in mind that "gradual" progress is the key word in any kind of training, and that following a training programme designed for YOU is the best way to ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS."