There’s no doubt as we age our bodies change and the way we are able to train and how we react to it changes too. That doesn’t mean that we can’t still make fitness gains and race well. Here are ten tips that I have found helpful in coaching older athletes to help them continue to reach their potential.
Taking part in any endurance event requires a certain level of commitment; the disappointment if it all falls apart on race day can be extreme, so how do you make sure that you arrive on race day ready and able to maximise your performance?
So how do you know if your training plan is effective? The simple solution is to test it; you can do this by entering interim races, or by certain other markers of fitness. Good plans will include some regular testing every 4-6 weeks (although they might not call it a test to avoid stressing you out).
So how long should your longest run be? First of all, you don’t need to run the full distance of your target run in one training session; you will have weeks where you run near (or in some cases above) the distance and it is the accumulated mileage that will prepare you for your event. Regardless of the distance I wouldn’t usually suggest any single run lasting more than 8 hours in any given training plan.
So what is base training? It’s a cycle of training of at lest 8 weeks which focuses mainly on endurance training, in short this means almost exclusively easy running at a conversational pace with little or no speed. The focus is on extending the longer endurance runs and creating training volume with other easier runs to improve running efficiency.
I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people on various social media groups are asking questions about their training zones and how they can be fit in each zone. It occurred to me that there is a lot of information out there about training zones but it still leaves people feeling confused, perhaps because there are lots of different systems which use different calculations, metrics and language.
So what are my training zones? Here is a summary of the training zones for running:-
So how much sleep do endurance athletes need? A general rule of thumb is between 7 and 9 hours per night for adults, but studies suggest athletes may in fact need closer to 9 or 10 hours per night for optimum performance.
So how do you get faster at trail running? Well, the best way at getting good trail running is to do more trail running. However, there comes a point where you don’t have any more free time to run and your body can stop responding to the same stimulus; it then becomes a bit more complex than just doing more of the same thing.
So how much do you need to drink when running an ultra-marathon? If you are running for longer than 90 minutes you should aim to drink 300 to 800ml of fluid per hour depending on your size and your sweat rate. Ideally this will include some electrolytes to aid fluid absorption.
Illness aside, if you feel tired but are generally healthy the best thing to do is to go out and have a go BUT if your heart rate is not responding or is going erratically high, or you are significantly off pace despite your best efforts, call it a day, run easy or rest, the session will be there another day. If this isn’t something that you feel you can achieve, the good news is there are other ways to track your levels of tiredness which will help you decide whether or not today is the day to train:
As a rule of thumb, the average person running at an easy (conversational) pace on a flattish surface burns about 60 calories per km run (that’s 100 calories per mile). For most of the part this works well, but it gets a little more complicated when we consider things like pace, terrain and outliers to the norm (ie excessively heavy or light individuals).
So how did stress have such a drastic effect on my training? When we are using up a lot of energy on stress this can limit the energy we have left for good quality training; in addition to this when emotionally stressed it can take us longer to recover. Unfortunately it is difficult to monitor this closely as emotional stress is very subjective; what causes debilitating stress for one person is a perfect motivator for another.
Perhaps the most effective thing you can do to improve your ability to run or cycle faster for longer distances, longer than 2 hours up to several days, is to improve your speed or power at your aerobic threshold. I thought it would be a good idea to explain why this is and how you can use the knowledge to get faster, so I wrote this article. So, why is aerobic threshold important? Your aerobic threshold dictates how fast you can go for durations of more than around 2 hours
So how can we maintain fitness or improve our fitness if we can’t go outside much if at all? Whilst indoor training doesn’t replace training outside, you can still maintain a good level of fitness using one or a mixture of the following exercises:-
There are a lot of applications available to track and analyse running, cycling and other endurance training sessions. I have used quite a few over the years and I thought it would be useful to combine my experience with that of my athletes and an in-depth survey of currently available diary application and analysis tools. So, what are the best cycling and running training and analysis applications? In no particular order, my top 3 applications are Strava, TrainingPeaks and Final Surge but I think combinations of applications work best. Read on to find out why.
So can walking help you be a better trail runner? As a way of cross training and getting in some guaranteed easy miles absolutely. But it’s a bit more complicated than just walking all the time and then becoming a good runner; you do still need to do some running to get fit, it’s more about varying the effort and intensity of your training, if you walk you are guaranteed to be working less hard than if you were running so it enables you to maintain some exercise without over straining. This can work particularly well for trail runners in several different ways
What you eat and drink during your long bike rides, races and events makes a huge difference to how fast you can go and how long you can ride for without having to stop or slow down. I have done some research and combined with my personal experience as a cyclist and a professional coach, here are some ideas that might help you.
So, what should you eat and drink during your long bike rides, races and events?
You may have heard that fitness develops during recoveries and not during your workouts. Here is a bit more detail on the subject and the reasons why recovery is so important.
So, why is rest and recovery needed for you to get fitter and faster? Training is a process of stressing your body to create a response and then waiting for it to respond and build up stronger before stressing it a bit more so that it responds again. Each of these stress/response cycles is a step towards increased fitness with the response occurring during periods of recovery and adaptation.
I’ve been thinking about how people get fitter and stay fitter, in fact how we get better at anything, whether that is developing skills, being happier or achieving amazing sporting goals. It is all about creating and maintaining good habits. I thought it would be useful to share some of what I have learned from over 50 years in sport and my experiences as a professional running and cycling coach. So, why do you get fitter by developing good habits?
Last week, I wrote an article about how to set the intensity of your interval training sessions and made a video about why you need interval training to help you get faster, so I thought it would be a good idea to explain why you should be doing interval training in more detail, to help explain in more detail how it will help you to get faster at your running, cycling or swimming. So, why do you need interval training to get faster?
One of the ways I have found most helpful in ensuring that I complete my training is having a solid routine that I can use again and again. Spending time establishing this routine has been part of what has helped me train regularly even when my motivation has been low.
Whilst I was pondering about things one evening, as I often do, I started thinking about why I got into running and cycling. I realised that although I like to train hard and do the best I can, there are many reasons that make entering and taking part in races or formal events worthwhile.
So how flexible can you be with a training plan? Well, the more you train the harder that gets; if you train three times per week it’s relatively easy to swap a rest day round, if you train ten times a week it gets a bit more complicated.
I’ve just sat down and planned my races from January through to August 2020. While I was doing so I began to really appreciate some of the benefits of this plan and how it helps achieve my running goals.
So why do I need to plan so far ahead? The main reason for planning in this way is that it really motivates me to train and get excited about the year ahead. In addition to this, however, there are other benefits for such advanced planning which help me to achieve my goals and feel good about my running.
So do you really need to run twice a day to be a good trail runner? Well, speaking from experience you can get really fit by running twice a day and it does have lots of benefits. However, you can also very quickly overdo it and become over-trained and/or injured. There are also other ways you can get fit without running twice a day. I thought I’d share a few of my own experiences, along with some reflections on the research I have done to help you decide whether running twice a day is right for you.
I first started running on the roads near my home to keep fit; these were quiet country roads with very little traffic and lots of greenery to see. When I went to university I ran the Great North Run for charity, where I found myself running through the city and suburbs. On moving to Skipton I (eventually) joined the local running club where I was introduced to some off road running, including my first off road half marathon. At this time I was still also doing some road races and working on good 5km and 10km times, but somehow, in training, my legs would always take me onto the trails where I could immerse myself more in nature. It was only when I began working with a coach and he asked me why I was training on trails yet my goals were all road based that I had the epiphany that really, the thing I liked doing was trail running. So what’s the difference between road running and trail running? And what does it take to convert from the road to the trails?