As an athlete, versatility is so important. Being able to adapt to any situation in sport requires a good balance of athletic traits including stamina, speed, flexibility, and agility.

To improve versatility, an athlete must mix up their training program. Run training is a great way to improve an athlete’s versatility and ultimately improve overall athletic performance.

Running training is very versatile. Sprint and hill training can improve speed and strength in an athlete, whilst long-distance builds endurance and cardiovascular efficiency. Having a strong cardiovascular system has shown to be linked to a healthier immune system, which is crucial for athletes. It also allows an athlete to perform at their best for longer periods.

Carli Lloyd, one of US Soccer’s biggest stars, is a great example of how athletes use run training. She incorporates 10 to 12-mile road or trail runs into her weekly program alongside her resistance and football training.

Ready to run? Hold up!

Before you tie-up those laces and hit the road there are a few things that you need to consider.

What kind of athlete are you?

Are you a power-based athlete such as a weightlifter or a sprint cyclist? Or are you an endurance-based athlete such as a swimmer? Most sports, like soccer and basketball, are a combination of both.

For athletes wanting to make gains in their chosen sport, it is important that your run training matches the demands that are required of you when you perform your sport. For example, sprint cyclists would benefit more from short, powerful runs such as sprint training, whilst swimmers would be better suited to long-distance running to build endurance.

Do you have previous injuries?

Consider any previous injuries that might be affected by a run. Always monitor how your body feels during a run and never push through injuries that are causing pain.

How experienced are you at running?

If you are a regular runner or your sport involves a lot of running movements, you are probably already ahead of the game. Except running for enjoyment or recovery, your runs should aim to push you physically and mentally. As an experienced runner, aim to increase your distance or the intensity of your runs to get the most benefit.

Are you a newbie runner?

You need to start slowly. Essentially, beginners should start with a walk to run program. Breaking up a run with short walks can help ease you into longer runs and build stamina. Focus on the minutes run, not the miles, and slowly increase the time as you get more comfortable. You should consider investing in a decent pair of running shoes. A good pair of running shoes can minimize the risk of injuries and can make your run more enjoyable.

Beginners can sometimes face several challenges when they first start running. Here are some of the challenges that beginners might come across.

Common Challenges that New Runners Face

Sore muscles

Many new runners experience aching muscles the day after a run. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS and is a completely normal part of the body adjusting to the new demands being placed on it. The pain will usually last a few days before the body returns to normal. Massage and ice can be used to help relieve the uncomfortable achiness of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Lack of motivation

Even experienced runners face a lack of motivation at times. It’s not always easy to be enthused about running, especially if it’s cold and wet outside. However, most of the time, the hardest part is just leaving the house. Once you are out and get into a rhythm, the run becomes enjoyable. And remember, the serotonin and dopamine that is released whilst exercising leaves you feeling on top of the world afterward.

Some ways to boost your motivation include:

  • Listening to music or a podcast
  • Mixing it up - try the trails, hit the pavement, or stay indoors on the treadmill.
  • Track your run - running apps like Strava can give your run more purpose and challenge you to improve each time.
  • Run with a friend
  • Sign up for a race – challenge yourself and have a goal in sight.

Now that you have the information, let’s get into it!

4 Week - Walk to Run Training Program

This program is designed for complete beginners and is a progressive program that will get you running for 30 minutes non-stop by the end of week 4.

For training you lower body strength try this 20 minutes guided video:

Final Tip – Breathing Preparation

One really important tool that many newbie and experienced runners overlook is the importance of breathwork. By practicing breathing techniques and training the respiratory muscles, athletes can increase their vital lung capacity – the amount of air retained by the lungs. This can lead to significant running and sport performance improvements.

Pursed lip breathing and belly breathing are two techniques that can improve lung capacity.

Pursed Lip Breathing

Inhale slowly through the nose for two counts. Exhale as slowly as possible through pursed lips. This should take at least twice as long as the inhale.

This technique keeps the airways open longer and releases trapped air within the lungs. It can help relieve shortness of breath.

Try to practice this 4-5x per day.

Belly Breathing

Most runners unknowingly breathe from their chest. This limits the amount of oxygen uptake and can lead to chest tightness. Belly breathing can help athletes by increasing the amount of oxygen that is inhaled, allowing the body to work more efficiently.

To practice this technique, lie flat on your back, and place the palm of your hand on your stomach. Take slow, controlled, deep breaths into your belly. As you inhale, your hand should rise and fall with the belly.

Practice this technique morning or night, or right before heading out for a run.

Breathing Trainer

Whether you are a beginner to athletic training og professional athlete, you might be on the look for some easy assistance when it comes your training your breathing muscles.

Using a simple breathing trainer you can keep track of your efforts through data-driven respiratory training system. Using the Airofit breathing trainer, you can exercise inspiratory and expiratory strength, vital capacity, anaerobic threshold, revitalization etc. Having strong breathing muscles helps you avoid any muscle fatigue that might limit your performance goals during a run.

Which breathing methods do you prefer to use with your training? Let us know in the comments!