Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Making Progress

Have you ever wondered why sometimes when you run it feels easy or effortless and sometimes it is a real struggle to put one foot in front of another?
Generally if you follow a running schedule over a certain number of weeks leading up to a race you are (hopefully) going to make some progress but what does this mean and how can you measure your progress.
As you get fitter there are certain changes that take place within the body.  These may include an increased stroke volume of the heart allowing more blood to be pumped around the body more efficiently, a lower resting heart rate, increase capacity of the blood to absorb oxygen or muscles becoming leaner and holding more energy.   These are all signs of the body becoming fitter!   These are difficult to measure but make running seem easier and more enjoyable.
What we can measure are things such as speed (doing the usual run but quicker for example), endurance (being able to run for longer) or generally increasing mileage, feeling more comfortable when we run or recovering from runs quicker. Depending upon your fitness background initial responses to training such as running may be self evident as you quickly start to increase distance, improve speed and feel more comfortable. However the more training you do the harder it is to keep those fitness improvements going. That is why it is a good idea to adopt some of the following “principles of training”.
  • Specificity -  if you want to improve your running then running should be your main focus of activity.
  • Progression - start at your level and gradually increase
  • Overload - work harder than normal – this is how your body adapts
  • Reversibility - train regularly or “Use it or Lose it!”
  • Tedium - keep it interesting.   A varied programme of activity, routes, distances make running all the more enjoyable.
Here are a few examples of sessions and how to progress them over a few weeks:
  1. Choose an out and back course (you can use any distance but aim for a route that is traffic free, good running surface and will not take more than approx 20 minutes). Start (after a short warm up and stretch) with a steady run out. Jog/stretch for a short period (not more than 5 mins) then return aiming for a slightly quicker pace on the way back. You could use this session regularly to assess your fitness always aiming for the return leg to be slightly quicker.
  2. After a warm up of about 10 minutes stop at a landmark (i.e a prominent road sign for example). Run hard for 10 minutes and note where you have stopped. Over the next few weeks repeat this session and see how much further distance you are travelling in the same time period (10 mins).  It will be a great motivator to know you are covering a greater distance in the same amount of time!
I hope that your training is going well and you are well on track to complete the Half Marathon on the 12th June.   Remember to plan in those easy or rest days alongside the harder running days!


  1. Thanks. I am enjoying the updates.

  2. No worries Jamie. Happy running! Andy