"I can't run very far before needing to walk. How can I improve my run/walk ratio?"
I’m new to running and I’m loving it, but I find that I can’t run very far before needing to walk. I’ve hit a brick wall with how far I can run before this happens. My cardio fitness has improved out of sight, so I’m confused. I’d love to complete a race in 2012, so I’m trying to improve my run/walk ratio. Do you have any tips? – Kayci
COACH MEL RESPONDS:
KEYS TO BEGINNER RACING
Firstly, as a beginner runner, your walk/run race strategy is fantastic.
To improve your run/walk ratio, try this running program:
Start with 2–3 sets of 3 min run/3 min walk
Build to 4 min run/2 min walk
Build again to 5 min run/1 min walk
Gradually increase your running time with each session. So, in your next session add an extra 1–3 sets (you may go back to 2–3 min walking between).
At first you’ll find you need more time to recover from the run part. But as you get fitter your heart-rate won’t go as high for the same pace. So if you’re running at 6 min/km pace, and to begin with your HR is 165, four weeks later at the same pace your HR might be 160. How? Your heart gets stronger, you build more capillaries in the body (allowing better oxygen delivery to working muscles), therefore becoming more efficient. That will be a great feeling when you continuously run for 5km.
Secondly, when we first begin running, it’s important to understand that the body needs time to adjust ¬– not just fitness-wise (i.e. heart-rate, breathing), but all the muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons. When we move from walking to running, we have essentially loaded our legs by five times our body weight! Imagine picking up a 20kg dumbbell, if the last time you went to the gym you were working with 4kg dumbbells!
I absolutely recommend to all beginners a strength program. Why? 1) Minimise injury. 2) Improve the effectiveness of your muscles and your coordination.
Make sure your strength training assists your running muscles (doing bicep curls aren’t helpful). Focus on the core and glutes – there are lots of resources on this website (e.g. The Perfect 15-minute Workout [hyperlink: http://www.runnersworldonline.com.au/default.aspx?s=newsdisplay&id=2561]). Alternatively, talk to a running coach and ask them to demonstrate exercises.
Aim to run three days a week, with rest or cross-training between sessions. The body recovers and adapts during a day of resting from running.
Muscle soreness can be attributed to micro muscle tears – when given time to repair, these make you stronger. Don’t forget to stretch, eat well and have massages for optimal repair!
1 GROUP WORK If you’ve hit a wall, join a running group or run with a friend. Studies have shown we perform better in group environments.
2 GO FOR GOAL I believe it’s crucial to have a goal, be it an event or distance. In my experience, the runners who miss the most squad sessions tend to have no specific goal. Entering an event helps you avoid slacking off – you can’t say, “It doesn’t matter if I miss this week,” because you can’t when the race is two weeks away! Start out with 4K or 5K events, allowing 10–12 weeks for training, depending on your exercise history. Do a few of these before stepping up to 10K. Rome was not built in a day, as a marathoner is not built in a month!
3 CONSISTENCY PAYS Keep consistent and you’ll reap the rewards of feeling and looking great. Enjoy the constant challenge and excitement of your first or next event.
Tell us your key to staying consistent in the comment section below.