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JANUARY’S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

TREADMILL TRAINING

The training session of the month is meant for you guys training for World Half Marathon Championships in northern countries, where the weather might be really bad for the time being. One solution to this could be training at the treadmill, and here are two ideas for treadmill sessions.

What’s good about treadmill training is that you can train under safe conditions, in light, with comfortable temperatures, fixed and exact speed etc. Treadmills are also good for hill training sessions since uphill running is very effective and you can avoid the downhill section that usually follow an uphill section -  and it’s the downhill part of hill runs that causes the most injuries. 

Testing sessions on a treadmill is good, since the conditions are fixed.  

What could be negative about treadmill running is that it is very monotone and don’t develop strength, coordination, concentration etc. that you may to some extend do when running outside (due different surfaces, obstacles, turns, hills and awareness in general). Another thing is that running on a treadmill may be very boring for longer periods of time.    

Here are two good training sessions, one as a substitute for an ordinary run in the streets and one is a challenging interval or test session.

”Ordinary session”: Run 5-8 K or 20-50 minutes and change the settings each 500 meter or 2 minutes instead of running at the same speed and inclination for the whole session. Let’s say 12 km/h suits you - try changing speed and inclination each 2 minutes throughout the session: 2 min. 12 km/h with no incline, 2 min. 11.5 km/h with 2% incline, 12.5 km/h with no incline and 11 km/h with 4% incline and then start over again. This way something happens all the time and the time goes faster. If you are listening to music while running, you could also decide to change speed and inclination each time a new song starts. 

”Combined interval, hill and test session”: 

NB: Be familiar with the treadmill before doing this session!

• Warm up for 10-12 min. easy running

• Run a number of 400 meters at your expected 10 K race speed*. Keep the speed constant all through the session but raise the inclination 1% for each interval until you can’t make it. Start each new repetition each 3 min. (at time ”0”, ”3”, ”6” etc.), if your expected 10 K race time is less than 50.00 min. (5:00/km) otherwise each 4th minute. 

• Cool down for 10 min. with easy running.   

This interval session has many benefits:

• Hill running is effective

• You can run almost all-out with the pace getting too high which are otherwise making high demands on you running technique at the belt.

• Is easy to use the session as a test: Try later in the season to do the same session and see if you can run more reps or longer at the last rep before giving up. 

• Starting every 3rd or 4th minutes makes it easier to keep track of your rest periods

*You can convert minutes per kilometre to kilometre per hour by dividing 3600 with your time per kilometre in seconds. If you can run 10 K in 45 minutes it’s 4.30/km = 270 second. 3600/270 = 13.3 km/h.

Did you know that high intensity training is very good for developing your fat burning ability which is needed for the half marathon? While you are performing high intensity training you mainly use carbohydrate as energy resource, but high intensity training raises the body’s level of growth hormone, which favours fat burning instead of use of carbohydrates as energy provider at a given pace, and growth hormone also have an anabolic effect to strengthen your muscles, tendons etc. 

Have fun training.


DECEMBER’S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

BIATHLON

December’s running session is an interval game which I call biathlon. Of course the name refers to the original military sport consisting of a mix of cross country skiing and shooting, two sports that demands opposite skills: Endurance and ability to race with very high heart rate during the skiing part versus complete calmness and concentration during the shooting part. 

You can perform this training if you are at least two persons training together, but it works the best in a group. 

This is how the set-up could be:

1) Find a lap of approximately 500 meters, flat and fast or hilly and muddy as you like.

2) Decide what should be the “shooting”. If you have snow where you train, it could be throwing snow balls against a target e.g. a tree. Otherwise throwing tennis balls or stones into a basket or a marked area on the ground (use sticks or branches to form a target circle) could be appropriate.   

3) Divide your group of runners into teams of two, preferably each team should be equally good, which means each team should consist of a faster and a slower runner.

4) Decide how many laps each team have to complete. 6, 8 10 (3, 4 or 5 laps for each runner A and B, see below) is usually suitable.

5) Now you start: Runner A runs a lap and throws three balls against the target. According to the number of misses the team (BOTH runner A and B) has to perform some time consuming exercises (penalties) before Runner B can do his first lap. Then he or she throws and again the teams may have to perform extra exercises according to the number of hits and misses.

Here are some ideas for the penalties: 

Run-like penalties: One miss: Running an extra lap of 50 meter, two misses: Running backwards an extra lap of 50 meter, three misses: hopscotching 25 meter at one leg and another 25 meter at the other. 

Strength-like penalties: One miss: 10 push-ups, two misses: 15 crunches, threes misses: 10 burpees.

There are many ways of varying this session: 

• Changing the distances of each lap, e.g. letting slower runners run shorter laps

• All or the fastest participants in the interval game can run the full session at their own or side by side for the full session

• Making different targets: Easy, medium and hard and changing the penalties according to this

• Letting the resting runners do some easy running or exercises while their teammate is running

• Finding other shooting exercises like throwing darts against a painted scoreboard, archery, football penalties, hitting other competitors with a foam ball or whatever you can arrange according to the numbers of participants and the possibilities in your club or neighbourhood.

Enjoy your training.


NOVEMBER'S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

HOP ON - HOP OFF INTERVALS

In each of the IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon information e-mails we bring one of Thomas Nolan’s weekly running advices in English. Thomas Nolan is the former Danish national coach of middle- and long distance running. Nolan has for years worked as a trainer for recreational runners and currently works as a consultant at MotionDANMARK which is a running branch under the Danish Athletic Federation, supporting the national athletics clubs and race organisers across Denmark.

You need to be at least three people of approximately the same level to run this interval session and it’s very easy to organize in a club with many runners where you can put together teams of three according to their level of performance. What you need is a circuit of 200-300 meter flat and fast or muddy and hilly, just as you like, wide enough to host 2/3 of the participants at the same time. Read more here. 

The session is fairly easy to explain: Each team consists of Runner A, B and C. Runner A runs one lap on his/hers own setting interval pace, while Runner B and C are resting. When Runner A passes B and C, B starts running now pacing Runner A who follows just behind. Next lap Runner A drops off to rest and Runner C takes the lead pacing Runner B who follows his back.  

You continue like this, each participant alternately running two laps and resting one lap for a period of time (e.g. 15 minutes) or a certain number of laps. For each runner, the first lap is the lap where he or she paces one of his teammates; the other lap is where you are paced by a “fresh” mate. The pace is “interval pace” throughout the session. 

Of course, the two runners sharing each lap should stay together no matter who is the strongest. The pacer must not let the runner behind on his/her own, neither is the runner behind allowed to pass the pacer.

Try also to make this session in a smaller circuit (150-200 meter) to make it more intensive and/or to combine the session with some strength or core-stability training by asking the resting runner to do some exercises while his/her team mates are running.   

Enjoy your training!


OCTOBER’S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

MIXING RUNNING AND STRENGTH TRAINING IN A CHALLENGING WAY

In each of the IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon information e-mails we bring one of Thomas Nolan’s weekly running advices in English. Thomas Nolan is the former Danish national coach of middle- and long distance running. Nolan has for years worked as a trainer for recreational runners and currently works as a consultant at MotionDANMARK which is a running branch under the Danish Athletic Federation, supporting the national athletics clubs and race organisers across Denmark.

October’s training session is a way of mixing running and strength training in a challenging way. You can do it on your own, but it’s meant for a group of friends and is perfectly suited if you like to compete. It’s a session that is very easy to customize so that it perfectly fits you and your friend. Here’s how to train:

1) Warm-up

2) Find a lap of 200-500 meter, flat and fast and muddy and hilly, just as you like.

3) Decide how many laps to run and the same number of strength exercises.

4) Now the session starts. The team should stay together, but try to see if you can push the pace if you feel like beeing the strongest. If someone can’t keep up with your pace, you must lower it a bit.

5) First, run one lap and complete the first exercise. Then run one more lap and complete the first exercise again and then the second exercise. Run another lap, do three strength exercises and go on like this until the planned number of laps and exercises has been completed. If you have planned six laps, you end up doing six exercises in a row, and a total of 1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21 exercises.

6) Cool down

You can customize this session by choosing shorter and longer laps or modify the number of laps and/or the type of exercises. The first exercises are to be done the most, so be careful not to choose too tough exercises – if you choose let’s say 20 jump and reach as the first exercise and do 6 laps, you end up having completed 120 jump and reach when the session is over. It’s a good idea to mix exercises between leg exercises (running musculature) and core-stability exercises.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to compete; you can also choose to train more easily, focusing on enjoying the laps and doing the exercises with perfect technique.

There’s no resting in this session, it’s either running or exercising all the time.

Enjoy your training 


SEPTEMBER’S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

CROSS COUNTRY, OFFROAD OR TRAIL RUNNING   

In each of the IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon information e-mails we bring one of Thomas Nolan’s weekly running advices in English. Thomas Nolan is the former Danish national coach of middle- and long distance running. Nolan has for years worked as a trainer for recreational runners and currently works as a consultant at MotionDANMARK which is a running branch under the Danish Athletic Federation, supporting the national athletics clubs and race organisers across Denmark.

September’s running session recommends you to try cross country, off road or trail running – words that stand for almost the same.. Off road running could be running on grass, mud or in rocky places, in hilly terrain, across parks and woods, exploring small uneven paths, following horse trails etc.

During the next couple of months you should try to run off road at least once a week. If you are not used to this kind of running I will recommend that you don’t run more than 15-20 minutes off road in the beginning, but you can do longer sessions in total by running off road followed by ordinary road running and then gradually expand the time spent off road. The reason you should start out easy is that off road running requires your full attention and strength in order to avoid injuries. Orienteers, who are familiar with off road running, very seldom experiences injuries related to acute incidents.  

What is good about off road running? There are many good reasons but here’s a few:
• You don’t have to bother about pace – it will be slow and that’s fine (in my opinion many runners should sometimes forgetabout pace) and you can’t evaluate your pace off road
• You will train other important physical properties than just endurance like balance, coordination, strength, your ability to accelerate and decelerate and to run with uneven pace and different techniques. This may help you becoming a better and more complete runner
• You will learn to concentrate and sharpen your awareness because the ground is uneven
• You will find interesting shortcuts and explore new sights and places in your neighbourhood or training area.

If you  like this kind of training, you may consider to buy a pair of trail shoes, which are running shoes developed for off road running and makes this kind of training an even better experience. The outsole pattern are rough and the heel are lower for better feeling and contact with the ground, the ankle support is strong in order to stabilize and avoid injuries, and the shoe is water resistant. The shoe may be a bit heavier than an ordinary running shoe and you may find it a bit clumsy when running asphalt, but in the terrain, this shoe makes a hell of a difference.

Enjoy your training!
 


AUGUST’S RUNNING ADVICE FROM THE FORMER DANISH NATIONAL COACH OF MIDDLE- AND LONG DISTANCE RUNNING, THOMAS NOLAN:

INTERVAL SESSION  

August’s training session is an interval session that has been used for years  all over the world. Its effect for distance runners are widely proven.

The session is: 4 * 4 minutes <3-4’>. This means run 4 times 4 minutes interval with 3 to 4 minutes break in between. Some runners prefer the distance-based variant:  4 * 1 km <3-4’>.

Before you start this session you should warm up for 10-15 minutes (easy running) and after the intervals you should run another 10 minutes cool down. The purpose of interval training is usually to improve the maximal oxygen uptake which is known to be amongst the most important performance indicators for runners.

The limiting factor for your maximal oxygen uptake is your vascular system, or more precisely the volume of oxygenated blood that your heart can pump around the body each minute, and the amount of blood and its ability to bind oxygen. Usually, all the oxygen that can be delivered to the muscles can be turned into energy and hence faster running. So, to train your cardiovascular system you must push it – which means try to make your heart work as hard as possible, which again means run as fast as you reaches the highest heart rate possible and keep it there for as many minutes as possible.

If you start out running as fast as necessary to make your heart rate reach its maximum within a few minutes, what will happen? Within another 4-6 minutes you will most likely be so exhausted that you have to stop today’s session. And if you start sprinting to reach the highest possible heart rate as soon as possible, you probably will be exhausted within one minute. That’s why sprinting doesn’t help much when it comes to improve maximal oxygen uptake.

So, here’s the trick to run for the longest time with a heart rate within say 10-15 beats from max (the more well trained you are, the more important it is to come even closer to maximal heart rate); Start to run as fast as necessary to make your heart rate reach within 10-15 beats from max and keep running for another few minutes and then stop BEFORE you are completely exhausted. If you then take a break and start over again, you can do this several times and all together get many more minutes of training close to your maximal heart rate! This is interval training.

Here are a few key points:
When running intervals the rest periods in between should be approximately as long – or at bit shorter - as the time you was running. This is true for intervals lasting from 2-5 minutes which are the most common. That’s why I recommend time-based interval sessions like 4 * 4 minutes <4’> instead of distance-based sessions like 4 * 1 K <4’>. If you are a very well trained or slow runner the time running will be to short or too long and/or the rest in between won’t suit the time running. ry to do some walking and jogging in the rest periods, avoid sitting or lying down.

Most runners don’t use a heart rate monitor and/or don’t know their maximal heart rate, so how do you find your ideal interval running speed? Try to run so fast that you get the feeling you can’t keep up with it more than 6-8 minutes or run some 10-15 second faster per kilometre than your expected race time for 5K.
You should try to keep an even speed throughout each interval and from interval to interval and push yourself so hard that you feel very tired during the last interval. If you run this way, you would find that you heart rate will rise faster in each interval and that your highest heart rate reached in each interval will also raise a few beats per minute from interval to interval.

If you after a few intervals get so exhausted that you can no longer reach maximal heart rate skip the training. To continue training from there, feels hard but doesn’t work when it comes to train maximal oxygen uptake and will prolong the time you have to rest before your next interval session.
Intervals are great training for the time of the year since the temperature is still nice and not too cold for the rest periods in between the intervals and also it’s the right time for training your cardiovascular system and maximal oxygen uptake. If you do some specific work here now, you have more room for improving you endurance later on - so to speak.

Try to do some interval session 1-2 times a week or each 3-4th session for the next month and you will find you form will be boosted especially when it comes to shorter distances like 5K.