I am certain that title got your attention. As 2010 raps up many of us are starting to plan what races we want to do in 2011. I hope you had a wonderful running and racing season. Before you start to set goals of running longer, faster, etc in 2011, I would urge you to look back at 2010 and assess what type of season it was for you. If you had goals written down or in your head go back and see if you achieved them or not. Then take a look for some of the why or why nots. Did I follow a training schedule with adequate periodization and tapering? Was I injured or sick during training? Was I carrying around extra weight during my training period? Were my goals realistic or just a number I picked out of the sky. Until you answer these questions you run the risk of being disappointed this coming year or even worse making the same mistakes you did last year.
So if you haven’t guessed, step one is to assess last years plan and season while before you begin to set goals for this season. List all of the factors that possibly got in the way of you achieving your goals and set an action plan to reduce or eliminate them. More on that later. If you are racing, make sure to set up your calendar with race distances you can realistically train for and label those races as A, B, C (most important to least important). For example if you travel a lot at the beginning of the year it might not be realistic for you to even train adequately to finish a marathon. Try not to schedule A or top priority races around busy or stressful times that will interfere with training. Also, make sure to use periodization to structure your training. Starting with easy and base building miles and then gradually increasing mileage and intensity by no more than 10% per week. Scheduling in a rest week of lower volume and intensity every 3-5 weeks allows for physical and mental recovery from training and results in better performance over time. In addition, this type of schedule helps to prevent overtraining injuries and burnout.
Second tip, is make sure to spend the time now fixing anything that is broken or improving any weak areas physically. This means if you had an IT band problem or lowback problem consult your chiropractor or sports physical therapist now to get it addressed. I realize it might feel better because you are not running as many miles right now but that doesn’t mean it won’t come back when you do start to run more frequently again. Weight lifting and core strengthening exercises can go a long way to preventing injury and improving performances later in the year. Make sure to consult someone who knows what they are doing. Click here for an example of some chiropractic low back pain rehab exercises.
Lastly, one of the most important things you might do to get faster in 2011 might actually serve to boost your overall health. What I am talking about is improving your eating. If you are carrying around an extra 5-10 pounds, every single joint has to bear that extra weight. When you add in the thousands of extra steps you take during a training run and multiply this by even half a year, the amount of extra force your joints experience is tremendous. Running at your optimal weight is extremely important to helping you achieve your fastest times. However, running closer to your optimal weight has the added benefit of improving your overall health. So, how do we do this? Some basic suggestions would be to try eating most from foods that are found in nature. That means fruits and vegetables, nuts, eggs and lean meats and fish. Focusing on this kind of a diet while you exercise often leads to a loss of weight, especially if you do not eat that way right now. Of course as a runner you need carbohydrates, but attempt to eat the majority of grain based carbohydrates just before or within 30 minutes after you run. The period just after exercise or a race is when your body is most receptive to putting sugar back into the muscles. Having adequate muscle glycogen is essential to training and racing at your best. Recovery drinks, fruits and veggies and grain based carbohydrates all work fine during this period of time. At other times of the day, away from exercise—if you do not recognize or understand an ingredient on a label you probably shouldn’t be putting it into your body. Whole grain carbohydrates can work fine for some, but many people have gluten sensitivities. This sensitivities lead to fatigue and low energy. In addition, grains in general lead to an acidic state when they are broken down and used for fuel. This acidity can create inflammation in the body causing minor aches and pains to linger and become more major problems. A full explanation of all of this is beyond the scope of this article but you can read more about what to eat for weight loss for 2011.
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