I hope you had a good, restful, Easter weekend. Yet again, we have missed some races that are a normal part of our calendar, particularly the Good Friday Crown to Crown 5k, which would usually end with a very enjoyable Club lunch at a local Harvester. Oh well, next year…
As noted last week, actual races are being replaced by virtual races. I managed to complete the NHS Active Challenge several days early. I know quite a few other members were also taking part in the Challenge. If you did it, how did you do?
Well done to Cristina and Trevor Cooper, who completed their Ironman VR2 Challenge at the weekend. Over 23,000 athletes took part in the Challenge, which consisted of a 3k run, 40 bike, and 10k run. The event had to be completed between 6.00pm on Friday and 11.59pm on Sunday.
Meanwhile, some of us have been taking part in 30 minute HIIT sessions, kindly led on Zoom by Debbie Coyle. The sessions involve short bursts of very intensive activity, and are not for the faint-hearted, but you certainly feel a lot fitter afterwards. Debbie posts details of sessions on the BRR WhatsApp group, so look out for them if you want to take part – all BRR members welcome, but you must participate, not just laugh at the rest of us puffing and panting!
For those of you who are following the virtual running club training plan, this week’s plan is here: 200414 – virtual running club training plan. This week is ‘peak week’ in the plan’s 4-week mesocycle (a training block in a longer training period). The first two weeks of the cycle built the training load gradually, with the peak in the third week. That means that this week is the hardest but it is followed by a rest week. This approach helps you get the best training effect from sessions, where you are able to build up your fitness, and then take a break this means your body is rested and fresh and has had time to make the physiological adaptations (i.e. muscles recovering and strengthening) so you can come into the next cycle feeling fresh. Mesocycles are also a good way of breaking up training, building structure and maintaining motivation which is more crucial than ever right now!
This week includes hill sprints. Hill sprints are great for building up fitness and strength. Just find a hill that you think you could keep a good pace going to the top of (or pick an achievable point on a bigger hill) and go from there.
Focus of the week – arm swing
As I’m always saying at track, arm swing is very important to good running technique. If you start doing odd things with the top half of your body then your legs will have to compensate for this, reducing how effective they can be. This often comes from having tension in your shoulders or upper body, which is often made worse by sitting and hunching over a PC, in a vehicle, or just in front of the telly all day. A good arm swing comes from having nice relaxed shoulders, and driving your elbows back pushes you forward and counteracts natural rotation in the hips. Finally, your arm swing actually can control your stride, so if you become hunched and have shorter swings your stride will become shorter as well, equally if you focus on longer more powerful swings your stride will stay the same – better arm swing means better running! When you do the intervals/hills this week, focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and your arm swing strong – this will mean you keep good technique to the top. Some pointers:
- Relax your hands and shoulders
- Move your arms in one plane of motion – they should not be swinging round your body and creating forces that push you sideways rather than forwards
- Your left arm goes forward when your right leg goes forward and vice versa
- You swing your elbows back: at the front of the swing your elbows just come in front of your body, and on the back of the swing there should be a triangle between your back and your elbows.
- Maintain an angle in your elbows between 80-100 degrees (ideally 90), like an L-shaped lever. Any bigger and your arms create a pendulum effect which will slow you down, and any smaller restricts your ability to swing.
- Your head position is important to your shoulders, so again try and look ahead of you rather than down at the ground. This will keep your head up high and prevent you hunching over.
Have fun and keep safe.