Progression: the four fundamentals

Increasing your running endurance and performance while limiting the risk of triggering injuries or overtraining: it's essential to get back to basics…


Increasing the distance 

"Running better" does not necessarily mean "running more". Many parameters (availability, proximity to competitions, etc.) come into play but increasing the distance is logically proof of improvement.

Rather than increasing the total time spent on each session – with the exception of your long weekend session – it's best to add one or two outings per week. For example, move from just two to three and then four sessions. Nevertheless, make sure you stick to a gradual approach and don't exceed the threshold of 10% to 15% more miles each week, in order to reduce your risk of injury as much as possible.


Upping the intensity during interval training sessions

Done on an athletics track or in the countryside, interval training is one of the most effective techniques. However, be careful not to be over ambitious. The number of repetitions, resting time between exercise, time trials over typical distances: everything must be analysed and studied.

It is generally advised that runners wanting to add some extra horsepower – and improve their vVO2max– carry out two interval training sessions a week (never two days in a row). One session should concentrate on short distances (from 200m to 800m or 50 sec to 3 mins 30 of exercise). The other should cover longer distances (between 1,000m and 3,000m or 3 mins 30 to 15 mins of exercise). Warning: increasing your intensity in order to improve is not the same as over exercising. Listen to your body and, as far as possible, avoid interval training at the end of the day or start of the evening.


Accept the principle of cross training

It may be tempting to pack in more miles without ever doing any other disciplines. But the benefits of cross training have been confirmed in numerous studies. They highlight certain points:

- By practising endurance disciplines such as swimming or cycling (road or mountain biking), you can consolidate or even increase your vVO2max while avoiding impacts and constraints.

- By regularly doing exercise to build muscle as well as stretching, runners improve their general posture and performance when exercising. Especially once you've hit 40.


Increasing your recovery time 

Vital for a healthy lifestyle! During training periods, you must allow yourself enough time to rest: your top priorities should be sleep and a healthy diet. Don't sink into a routine of abstinence, which over time will take away the enjoyment of running, but instead learn to alternate between more intensive times (training) and calmer moments (recovery).


Among the parameters to keep an eye on are:

- Balancing sessions throughout the week. It's logical to be busier and more active at the weekend, but your weekly mileage should be smoothed out as far as possible given the time you have.

- Completely avoid doing exercise such as track interval training sessions two days in a row.

- Listen to your body and the signals it is sending. Don't hesitate to contact a running injury physio specialist if in doubt..

You may really want to improve, but it's important to give your body enough time to memorise the exercise you did during training and fully recover from it. Two complete breaks per year of two or three weeks are needed


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