Race pace train­ing key to suc­cess­ful run­ning

Weekend Witness - - Sport - NOR­RIE WIL­LIAMSON

RUN­NING faster is sim­ple!

Any­one can run fast — that’s true and of course fast is a rel­a­tive term. It’s rel­a­tive to what is “nor­mal” for that group­ing of peo­ple.

For ex­am­ple a 10-sec­ond 100 m could be con­sid­ered “nor­mal” for those sprint­ers in the World Cham­pi­onships 100 m fi­nal.

They will have trained faster over shorter dis­tances many times in their prepa­ra­tion, but with con­sid­er­able pe­ri­ods of re­cov­ery be­tween.

In Stel­len­bosch they have a “sprint tread­mill” that is wider, longer and faster than any­thing nor­mally seen. In this case the sprinter is low­ered onto the belt at high speed to teach the mus­cles to con­tract, and the legs to turn over at a faster rate. Why?

The rea­son is sim­ple. The only two things that de­ter­mine a run­ner’s speed at any point in time are the num­ber of strides per minute and the length of the stride.

If you in­crease ei­ther or a com­bi­na­tion you will run faster.

Al­though this is ab­so­lutely true, the sim­plic­ity of the state­ment hides a com­plex­ity of is­sues if the speed is to be use­ful to the ath­lete.

In dis­tance run­ning, the faster pace is only use­ful if you can main­tain it for a long pe­riod of time.

Those two fac­tors, ca­dence and stride length, are de­ter­mined by many facets such as hip flex­i­bil­ity, leg strength, neuro-mus­cu­lar co-or­di­na­tion, and run­ning style.

Another ma­jor player is the psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­ci­pline and tenac­ity to main- tain the pace de­spite the ever in­creas­ing sig­nals in­di­cat­ing that you are get­ting tired.

It is for the above rea­sons that, when we want to im­prove our 10 km time, we do ses­sions of “in­ter­vals” at just faster than our tar­get 10 km race pace.

The same is true of all dis­tances and paces — if you train at a par­tic­u­lar pace, you will per­form bet­ter at that dis­tance. The race pace train­ing (be that as fast as a five kilo­me­tres, or as easy as our Com­rades pace), teaches us to de­velop a style to be­come more ef­fi­cient at the pace we will be us­ing in the race, and si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­creases our con­fi­dence to­wards suc­ceed­ing in our cho­sen chal­lenge.

Work­ing on your style, your stride length and, im­por­tantly, an ef­fi­cient ca­dence can make dra­matic changes to your per­for­mance in all dis­tances, and the time to learn this is al­ways NOW! The sooner you start, the sooner you glean the ben­e­fit.

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