One of the best parts about running as a sport is the constant drive to push yourself harder, longer, and farther than ever before. Even those who start out running "as exercise" or "just for fun" soon get sucked into the competitive urge every runner feels. Whether it's getting home a little faster from your run or entering a marathon, you always want to try to do a bit better. Shaving a few seconds off your time might not sound like much when you start. After a while, though, you'll understand just how much hard work those seconds represent!
So how can you push yourself to train harder for better results? Well, consider training like the most elite runners in the world: Olympians. Olympic athletes post incredible times and break world records every four years. It never stops being amazing! Just because they're competing on the world level doesn't mean they don't have to practice hard, though. Training like an Olympian may not earn you a medal, but it can help you improve. From bettering your form to improving speed and stamina, there are plenty of benefits you could see. So how do they do it ? and how can you? Let's look now at how to set up an Olympic-style training regimen for runners.
Check your gear before you start
Before beginning an intense Olympics-inspired workout, you'll want to make sure you're geared up for the job. Running puts stress on your body in many different ways. Dressing appropriately and having the right supplies will lay a foundation for success in your efforts. You must also consider the temperature outside and when you will run.
These might all seem obvious considerations, but they are even more important when assuming a tough workout schedule such as this one. Make an investment in really solid lightweight running shoes. As you rack up the miles, having a smaller amount of dead weight on your feet will really help reduce fatigue. Not sure what you really need? No worries, because it's easy to figure out with some help from the web.
Easy-to-read online guides including those provided by Runner's World make it easy to scope out your basic needs. Don't forget to ask an employee at a sporting goods store to help you locate the correct products. Excellent shoes, lightweight clothes made of the right fabric, and some good sunglasses will put you at the starting line. A sturdy, lightweight water bottle is a good idea, too!
Work the muscles you're going to need on the track
Running might provide tone to your legs, but pounding the pavement by itself isn't enough. You will have to hit the gym, too. Olympic runners work out their muscles in all kinds of ways. This extra workout not only helps to develop stamina on the track, but it also increases strength and power. Stronger legs can power through strides faster. It can boost your sprinting speed and ability.
Overall, though, hitting the gym before or after your run is just an all around excellent way to push your body to its limits. A well-structured workout will help you build up the strength you need across your body. Weight lifting, including power cleans and barbell squats, work out key muscles in your legs and core. Additional ability in these areas will come in handy when you're pushing hard during a race.
Sled drags are an incredible form of resistance training which will help you develop further as well. Don't forget your lunges, either. Olympians combine all these exercises to enhance their range of motion and flexibility. With all that in mind, it's time for the real practice.
Build an intensive daily running schedule
Working out in the gym is just the tip of the iceberg. Don't forget ? you're here to run. That's what you're going to do! Now it's time to work out the schedule you'll follow each week. Olympians plan a lot of variation into their weekly runs. It's not just running straight for five miles! It's not all running around a track, either. Before we dive into planning your weekly run, take a moment to think about a few activities which can help you develop.
Stair sprints can help you improve speed, and they'll work out your heart as well. Even as you huff and puff your way to the top of the stairs, your body is building up its ability to handle that kind of activity. Doing knee drills and other stretches before you run will help you warm up and work on your muscles at the same time. Now, what about the running? You'll want to include many different forms to develop across a broad spectrum.
Though Olympic runners may focus some days on their core area, they too know the importance of varying their routine. Interval training at intermediate distances should be a focus one day. A day entirely dedicated to sprinting practices should also be on your calendar. Don't forget the long haul distance runs you're used to, too. Structure your week in a pattern that works for your own personal schedule. You'll start shaving seconds off your time before you know it.
Fuel your body the same way an Olympian does
Developing and sticking to this Olympian runner's routine isn't the only thing you need to do. You've got to give your body what it needs to keep on going through this tough schedule, too. That means proper nutrition. Have you ever thought about what an Olympic athlete eats? A lot goes into an Olympic diet, but it starts with a solid, healthy breakfast. Kick the day off with lean proteins to get your body ready for the day ahead. Lean protein makes an excellent dinner choice, as well. Stock up on the chicken breasts, salmon, and low-fat content beef to provide a base from which to build.
Get plenty of fruits in your diet, too. The vitamins and minerals contained in them will help boost your recovery and get your body working harder. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Remember to hydrate consistently throughout the day as well, just as you normally would. Some Olympic athletes refuel every four hours.
When burning as much energy as you do with this workout, you must replenish your supplies constantly. Also, remember to help your body recover from the workout with carbs and proteins. You'll often see Olympic athletes enjoying a shake or drink right after a hard race. Your body responds better to the stress of exercise when it has good energy to burn.
Don't forget the critical value of rest
Finally, as much as you may love running, remember to give it a rest from time to time. You'll need to build rest breaks into your workouts as well as your weeks. Without a break from the exercise, your body doesn't get a chance to heal, rebuild, and strengthen itself. Even Olympic athletes, competing at the highest level in the world, don't spend every day running and working out. Any endurance athlete ? and any sports medicine professional ? will tell you that rest won't have an adverse impact on your fitness.
As long as you don't drop your routine for longer than seven days, you'll be just fine. Not only that, but you may even notice it's easier to get back into things when you return to the track. Why? Sleep encourages muscle repair and growth, and resting those muscles gives them a chance to bounce back. Pushing yourself too hard can result in injury, which will definitely throw you off your game. Plan rest days into each week. Just one day is OK if you think you can handle it, but try to sprinkle two rest days throughout your workouts. That should give you adequate time to prepare for the next day's work.
You can train like an Olympian if you want
Kicking your running regimen into top gear doesn't have to be difficult. With a little homework and planning, anyone can do it! Modeling your workout after Olympians affords the benefit of knowing it's a proven method. When you want to get ready for that big race in a few months, this is certainly the method to choose. It takes drive and dedication, but in the end, you'll be running faster than you did before. Start yourself on the path to honing your physical fitness even further today. Will you go for the gold?