How to consistently improve your running performance

We all run with the purpose of improving something: whether that’s to improve our health, improve fitness, lose weight or to improve our race times. Whatever your reason for running, it’s likely you’re trying to improve something, and therefore looking to see a progression - otherwise why continue to put in all the training miles? The problem is training progression is never constant, sometimes we improve, sometimes we don’t, and often runners are in a state of performance flatline, where performances remain fairly static for many months at a time. So how can we achieve a more consistent level of improvement? In this article we’ll take a look at running plateaus, why they…

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Why endurance runners should practice race day nutrition in training

Whilst runners naturally focus a lot of attention on endurance running sessions, often less attention is placed on practising race day nutrition in the build to important long-distance races such as marathons, or ultra marathons. As an endurance athlete you’ll know the importance of using good nutrition strategies to maximise running performance. Whether this takes the form of energy gels, energy drinks, or foods like a banana, or energy bar, the consumption of regular carbohydrates and sufficient fluids will help to delay fatigue, reduce muscle glycogen depletion, and significantly enhance running performance. However, whilst there are clear benefits to race day fuelling strategies, for some runners there can be a downside in…

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Running Cadence – how important is it?

There are many factors that contribute to endurance running performance - VO2max, running efficiency, lactate threshold, muscular endurance and strength to name a few. However, if we break running down to its simplest form, there are only two metrics that ultimately determine how fast you run: your stride length and running cadence. It’s a simple law of running that the speed you run at over any distance, will always be determined by how long your stride is multiplied by the number of strides, or steps, you take per minute.With endurance running, it’s our ability to run with both a high cadence and good stride length, over prolonged distances, that is key to…

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Athletes with higher VO2max require shorter recoveries during interval training

There has been a large amount of research looking at the effects of different interval training sessions. Most of this has looked at the effects of factors such as intensity, duration, volume, and recovery periods (active recovery, passive recovery, work to rest ratio etc). Whilst this has given us great insights into how to structure interval training, to maximise the performance benefits, it is not clear whether all athletes gain the same the benefit, from these training sessions e.g. should highly trained and moderately trained athletes, be performing intervals at the same relative intensity, and utilising the same recovery periods. (more…)

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Passive vs active recovery during interval training

It’s well established that interval training is a great way to improve endurance exercise performance with many coaches putting a lot of thought into the speed, duration and volume of an interval session. However, less thought is often put into the importance of the recoveries between intervals and how this affects the overall intensity of the workout. One ongoing debate is whether the recovery period should consist of passive or active recoveries. The argument often put forward for passive recoveries is that they allow a greater workload to be completed compared with active recoveries – but is this really the case? (more…)

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Using foam rollers to speed recovery, reduce DOMS and improve performance

Foam rollers are often used to stretch and release the muscle tightness and trigger points/knots that can build up following prolonged repetitive or intense training sessions. They are particularly useful for deep tissue massage which helps to break down soft tissue adhesions, scar tissue, trigger points and releases the tightness between the muscles and the fascia. By doing this foam rollers are believed to improved blood flow to the affected muscles, enhance recovery, reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), reduce muscle fatigue and improve muscular performance. This is supported by recent research looking at the effects of foam rolling following back squats (Pearcey et al., 2014). (more…)

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Maximizing the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes

Whilst it’s clear that strength training provides a great benefit to endurance athletes, it can be difficult to incorporate strength training into an endurance training program without causing some disruption to the existing program. This disruption can be minimised, to an extent, by ensuring you perform strength training a couple of days before interval training, so that it doesn’t negatively affect the interval training. In addition it is well known that endurance training can limit the effectiveness of strength training by inhibiting the potential gains in both muscle mass and strength. A recent review article, looked at the molecular mechanisms that appear to cause this affect and proposed strategies to maximize the…

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Strength Training – Why it’s important for Endurance Athletes

It always surprises me how few endurance athletes utilise strength training as part of their overall endurance training program. This is unfortunate since there is a large amount of scientific research supporting the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes. Before taking a look at the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes I’ll start by taking a look at some of the concerns endurance athletes commonly have about strength training and try to dispel them.


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Triathlon training: High intensity bike intervals improve cycling and running performance in triathletes

High intensity interval training has been traditionally used as means of improving cycling time trial performance, in fact a large number of research studies have clearly demonstrated improved time trial performance following a period of high intensity interval training. Recent research published in the European Journal of Sport Science (Etxebarria et al., 2013) found that not only do these intervals improve cycling performance, they can also lead to improved running performance with an average improvement of just over 1 minute during a 5km time trial (completed after a 1hour cycle). (more…)

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Running Technique: Is changing from a heel first to a mid-foot running style beneficial?

Heel first running styleOver recent years there has been increasing interest in the potential benefits of changing from a heel first running style to mid-foot strike. Advocates of mid-foot running styles claim decreased injury rates and improve running efficiency, compared with a heel first running style. Since the majority of runners naturally use a rear-foot, or heel first running style, this has led to athletes and coaches looking to ways to change their natural running style in the belief that this may improve running efficiency, exercise performance and reduce injury rates. In order to achieve this specific drills are often utilized to try to encourage a change towards a midfoot or forefoot strike. (more…)

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