Jason Taylor 24th April 2015, article for Keep Fit Boot Camp
Bodyweight cardiovascular exercise is often one of the key missing components in many training plans. BW CV can be anything from a stroll, jog to a run, or time out in the hills walking. You can decide the frequency, intensity level, how far to raise your pulse as your fitness progresses.
CV training is essential, not only will you feel better and in more control of your life, it will also help you develop a stronger heart, manage your weight and body composition and lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
Whilst cardiovascular fitness can be developed through cycling, swimming, and rowing these are all forms of non-weight bearing exercise and as such will not facilitate the same development that outdoor running will.
Today, we will discuss 5 forms of running and why they are so important.
Steady state and long slow duration – SS / LSD
Continuous runs are primarily concerned with endurance. Time on your feet is a critical factor rather than speed. These runs can be anything from 45 minutes and upwards in duration and the pace should be moderate, 65 to 70pct of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Or if you prefer at a pace that you could still hold a slow conversation at.
This type of running is probably the most common undertaken, and many focus on this for challenge races such as half or full marathons. Running distance is as much a physical as well as mental challenge. It is during these runs you can work and test your mental and physical endurance.
Remember that longer distance running can result in adaptive shortening of your leg muscles. As they are not moving through a full range of motion over time they will become shorter and tighter. It is essential that you combine the longer runs, with hills and intervals as they will work the muscles through a larger range of motion, and you have a planned programme of flexibility and mobilisation built into your warm up and cool down. Yoga and Pilates are excellent to combine with running.
Off road, cross country, and trail running
Running off road is a superb method for training the body through all planes of motion. On a treadmill you work in a forward plane of motion and avoid developing the other two, side to side and twisting. These three planes of motion used collectively are essential to develop functional fitness with muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and joints of the body working together rather than in isolation.
Hill running is one of the biggies to developing a healthy body and is up there with interval training.
During hill running the muscles in your lower body work in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight. As you climb uphill and gravity starts to take its effect the body has to work harder, this develops a higher knee lift and more power in your legs.
A powerful benefit is increasing aerobic enzymes in the quadriceps, a chemical which allows the muscles to function at higher intensity and for longer durations before becoming tired. Stronger quadriceps will build longer and more powerful strides. It is reported that the fitness benefits from hill running are retained for longer when rest periods or time out is taken.
An ideal hill session would be rolling mixed terrain over 5-7 miles, a series of up and down hills interspersed with flat sections for recovery.
Remember when running downhill, do so in a contolled manner, you are moving with gravity and exerting considerable force on your joints. Downhill is never a sprint.
Interval training is running a planned number of distances at speed with pre-determined rest periods. These rest periods are the intervals and not the sprints themselves.
Interval training increases a runner’s endurance, and ultimately the ability to run faster for longer. Each session is progressive bringing together longer sprints and shorter rests. Muscle strength is also increased, and a greater range of motion deployed ensuring improved flexibility.
This training system is key to developing your race pace for improving times on 5km and 10km runs.
Track running is ideal for speed work and a typical session would include 10minutes of a thorough warm up with mobility, dynamic stretches and running drills. The main theme and a 10 minute cool down.
The main theme could be 5-7km of intervals broken down as following. Distance 800m, 8 intervals run at slightly quicker than race pace, 5 seconds per km. 60 seconds rest in between.
Tempo or Speed running
Tempo running is race pace speed. It is a development on from intervals by chaining the links together. It is extremely challenging. If you run a 5km at 22 minutes or 10km at 44 minutes it means selecting a distance and then maintaining that fast pace for the entire duration.
Running and bodyweight circuits has always formed the backbone of my training regime. It has ensured that I was fully fit for some of the most testing challenges. Wether preparing for the all arms commando course or on operational deployments.
So what are you waiting for?
Go outside and start running your life!