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Fine-tune your greatest fitness tool-running-with these truths
Two short runs are better than one long one
Forget the ‘no pain no gain’ mantra and go for a quickie with a clear conscience. Comparing the effects of a single daily 30-minute session with two 15-minute sessions over 24-weeks’ training, researches at the University of New Hampshire found that double-training boosted VO2 Max by 7.7 percent, compared to 3.6 percent with the single session.
The more you sweat, the more unfit you are
If your pores start pouring the minute the tread-mill starts turning, don’t panic. “After repeated training, your body becomes more efficient at cooling, so you start sweating earlier and produce more of it,” says New Delhi-based fitness instructor Vesna Pericevic Jacob. This makes it even more important to replace fluids. Isotonic/sports drinks are better than water as they’re formulated to restore the electrolyte content in your blood.
Weight training won’t help your running
Don’t assume you can outrun the bouncer. University of Illinois researchers found that men who completed a 10-week weight-training programme (with no running) were able to maintain a set pace for 12 per cent longer than before their gym exertions. The best muscles to target are quads, abs improve your running efficiency.
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Lactic acid stops you In you tracks
Most runners blame lactic acid for jelly legs, cramp, post-run soreness, the dreaded “burn” – pretty much everything except blisters and Third World debt. But recent research has established that lactic acid can actually help keep you going. Lactic acid is a partly broken-down carbohydrate molecule containing lots of energy. If we run hard, our bodies don’t have time to break down glucose fully, so it’s broken down as far as lactic acid, which issued to provide more energy. University of California studies found interval training can beef up you cells’ energy furnaces-the mitochondria-to burn the wrongly-maligned compound more efficiently and boost performance.
A cup of coffee is rocket Fuel for runners
That espresso hit won’t just drag you through hung-over mornings. It’ll also power your pavement pounding. A recent Birmingham University study found drinking coffee before a long run can boost endurance by 26 per cent “you don’t need a lot of caffeine to get the maximum effect,” says lead researcher Asker Jeukendrup. “Just 2-3mg per kg of body weight-about one cup of strong coffee.” Several top marathoners actually suck coffee beans as they run.
Fat slows you down
“Fat gets bad press and runners have an almost pathological desire to reduce body fat,” says Dr Arthur Steward, an expert in the relationship between anatomy and movement at the University of Aberdeen . “But fat plays a crucial role in maintaining energy balance, repairing tissue and providing injury-preventing shock absorption for feet and organs.” If you’re training hard, ensure you’re carrying a little body fat, advises Dr Stewart. This will help you stay healthy and injury-free.
You run faster in the afternoon
Ever felt like the treadmill was going uphill in the morning? Our bodies have natural cycles called circadian rhythms, causing our energy levels to fluctuate greatly throughout the day. And according to James Waterhouse, professor of biological rhythms at John Moores University in Liverpool, virtually all the factors that influence running peak 9-12 hours after waking. Which means 4-7pm is your peak performance window. Another reason for an early dash from work.
Warm-ups should be gentle
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That late dash for the start line could do you a favour. University Aberystwyth research found that strenuous warm-ups can produce quicker times for races up to 10k. According to lead researcher Dr. Mark Burnley, this is because it encourages your body to recruit more motor units, which then power you through your run. Dr Burnley recommends that you cover 1.5km at 75-80 per cent effort, 10 minutes before a race.
Speed training is the only way to boost speed
“The biggest problem with amateur endurance athletes is they don’t fully establish aerobic endurance before moving on to speed work,” says Mumbai-based sports medicine consultant Dr Anant Joshi. “Training slowly at first will reap greater rewards in the long run.” To build up your aerobic ‘base’, you need to recruit more muscle fibers by running slowly. If your heart rate rises when running at your steady pace, go slower. Run 80-90 per cent of your kilometers at this slow pace initially.
Lengthening your stride makes you run faster
The classic gear-shifter may leave you stuck in neutral. A US study confirmed stride length among college runners decreased as they became more experienced and faster. A good guide is to shorten your stride until you can manage 175-180 steps per minute.
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