professional development

Secret runners’ business: Back to the future

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One of the problems we all have to resist as we age is falling into the trap of banging on about how much better things were in the good old days. You know what I’m talking about: the longing for simplicity and things that just work.

It happens in the office when your smartphone battery carks it after one good conversation or your PowerPoint presentation crashes, leaving you wanting for a flip-chart and a whiteboard. Today I’ve decided I’m not resisting at all – in fact I’m going out on a limb and saying that in the running world, the old stuff is better than the new stuff. Here are a few old-school running training and coaching techniques I’m looking forward to seeing more of in 2013.

Hills

Every runner knows hills are good, but few (including me) do enough of them on a regular basis. I don’t just mean jogging around the Tan or your favourite running loop that contains a single hill, either. With hill training we’re talking a structured approach to running up a hill or hills multiple times in a single running session. The result will be hurting badly during training, but you’ll be building the strength to not hurt so badly during racing on the flat. Note: beginners or new runners can do hills but make them shorter (about 30 metres) and not too steep. Your goal is not so much to hurt, but to practise short bursts of good technique.

Barbell training

You can take your elastic bands and Chuck Norris/Christie Brinkley-promoted pretend home gym and do something unmentionable to them. Get yourself under the bar at least once per week to learn just how much benefit there is to be gained in your running by learning to control the bar and your body. Note: find someone knowledgeable to teach you correct lifting technique so you don’t get broken.

Simple shoes

While we’ve seen a return to simpler shoes with the shift towards running shoe minimalism http://www.runningtechniquetips.com/2012/06/minimalist-running-evoloves-towards-the-mainstream/ however there’s still some way to go as many shoes (including, ironically, some of the minimal models) being made and promoted with an eye on technology gizmos over function. This doesn’t mean all shoes need to be reduced to being flat and uncushioned – far from it. I’d like to see more shoes that are simple in form and function, where whatever technology resides within fades into the background and just lets you get on with running.

Running shorts

I’ve been guilty of occasional crimes against Lycra myself and unless it’s really cold (note: get-out clause) I plan on running a lot more in traditional loose-fitting running shorts. What’s not to like? Personal modesty protected, comfortably airy and they allow you to move with complete freedom. Not just for men either – women can also wear this style.

Join me going on a journey back to the future of running in 2013. Finally: it is OK to run on Christmas day no matter how crazy people think you are. Thanks for reading and have a great Christmas. 

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