Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a running coaching session with the marathon Olympian runner and coach Liz Yelling. Also training us was the delightful Sarah Russell from Sarah’s runners and Elle from Studio 57
The aim of the 90 minute session was to work on style and set some goals for whatever your particular target was. There were runners of all different levels…..some fast sprinters, some longer distance runners and then there was me! Having had a couple of pregnancies fraught with challenges and in quick succession I'm frustrated to be much slower than I was. A c-section 11 months ago has really played havoc with my abdominal muscles too….aka they seem to have disappeared! Alas I try to get out there and run, walk, do pilates and strength training. While I can regularly run 6km pushing my double pram I am aware I have become a bit of a shuffler. I was delighted to be offered the chance of resetting my goals and reminding my body how to run to prevent injury.
We were a slightly nervous bunch of 50 ladies but Liz, Sarah, Elle and Helen from Spatone soon set us at ease. Then we were off running around Battersea Park track. My friend Lucy and I were amazed at how good it felt to run on a track as it had been years for both of us. It’s so bouncy!
Elle then took us through some dynamic stretches – she says these are better for fast running and slow stretches are better for longer distance running. Makes sense as the dynamic engage the muscles and get them fired up, whereas the slow stretches encourage long lean calm muscles that aren’t going to exhaust themselves too early on.
We then split into 2 groups: one group with Liz and the other group with Sarah. Lucy and I started off with Sarah, who is so bubbly and warm you just want to give her a little hug. I didn’t… I did however partake in her mini sprint sessions to put into practice her advice.
Arms – running starts with the arms. Keep them at a 90 degree angle and pump them backwards engaging the triceps. Ensure you don’t bring them up too close to your face. Keep your shoulders down and pump those arms hard keeping them controlled. FYI my triceps were very sore afterward so it’s a free triceps workout!
Headlights – imagine that your erm…chest…and hips have headlights on them. Keep them pointed up and straight. It’s easy enough to remember one of these alone but try practicing with both sets of headlights on, up and straight. It’s a bit like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time! Once you master it, it does keep your posture in check and feel more comfortable.
Heels to bum – kick those heels up so they hit your bum. It’s engages the poor old much forgotten hamstring muscles, on the back of the legs and between the knee and the hip. If the hamstrings are not being utilised you will overuse the quadriceps at the front of the leg and put additional pressure on the knee. For those of you, like me, who are starting to suffer with sore knees this is crucial.
One leg squats – practice these to help stabilise the core and strengthen the glutes ie the bum. The stronger the glutes, the less pressure on the rest of the leg.
Core stability – engage the core, like in Pilates, to keep the hips in check. It also prevents you overextending other areas.
After doing these drills with Sarah we then started with Liz. While I may have been more energetic and faster with Liz I feel that doing the drills first set me up to practice what I had just learned.
5-10k runners – you should be able to say 3-4 words while running and be on the verge of discomfort.
Half marathon – marathon runners – you should be able to have a conversation and be a little more comfortable than experiencing discomfort.
Train to threshold – you should feel you can maintain that pace for the duration of your event or run. You must be careful to not start off too fast then hit a wall and slow down dramatically.
While this sounds fairly obvious I actually had no idea really what my threshold was. I know I run (pushing 35kg in the form of a double pram) at approximately 8km/hr or 5miles/hr but what could I run at without a pram in order to maintain a specified distance… We did laps of the 400m track, timed by Liz, to work out our threshold speed for a half marathon or a marathon. I’m a sprinter at heart so off I went and got a time of 1.45min for 400m which out me at a speed of 8min per mile or in my language 7.5 miles per hour. Optimistic… There wasn’t a chance I could have maintained that for very long so I did the next ones slower averaging 2.05, more like 6.6 miles per hour. Now I have proof that I can run faster. I have some times no work towards should I choose to do a race.
Interval training – this is imperative for running. As I’ve experienced it’s so easy to just plod along without actually increasing your fitness or speed. We did 2 minute intervals at threshold pace (the pace you could maintain for the race distance you would like to achieve) then immediately completed 2 minutes fast/sprinting for 4 laps each. Ouch!
Elle took us through some nice stretches to finish off the session.
I have to tell you I was sore afterwards. It was worth it though and so helpful. All of the experts were approachable and lovely people. Spatone gave us some samples as a bonus and my friend I then went to a lovely 5* hotel for some restorative refreshments (I recommend the green tea and water as nutritionally beneficial but the prosecco not so much!) and tapas.
To win Spatone supplements go to this link to enter a competition