How To Progress Your Running During The Pandemic


How To Progress Your Running During The Pandemic

Third Space Elite PT Henry Howe is here to provide a step-by-step guide.

Running has become an outlet for many of our Third Space members during lockdown. It’s a panacea for not just cardio health and fitness, but also joint health, cognitive performance and mental well-being. Not bad for putting one foot in front of the other.

If, like me, you’ve spent a month building up to a few runs a week, then the hard part is over. You’ve formed a new habit. Now, to make it really stick, your next goal should be to push it further. Get stuck in a rut and the excitement you feel for your next outing will quickly run away from you. The tips below will help you reach the next level.

Build Your Engine

This requires you to take it up a gear. The intensity of your runs can be split into training zones, or working effort, and are graded from 0-100%. Mixing up these training zones over the course of the week will help you to recover better, increase your overall running speed and ensure that your training doesn’t get boring.

And that means going slowly sometimes. Simply put, if you only drove your car around in 4th and 5th gear then at some point you’ll need a new gearbox. Including lower intensity running workouts is key.

The protocol I recommend is Polarised Training (PT) zones. This splits your runs into three distinct working intensities; roughly 0-65% effort as zone 1, 65-85% as zone 2 and 85%+ as zone 3. In PT you minimise your use of zone 2 and train almost exclusively in Zone 1 (easy work) and Zone 3 (hard work). This is for two main reasons:

  1. The most stimulating and beneficial workouts we do are Zone 3 sessions. Removing Zone 2 work allows you to go harder and earn a greater physiological adaptations in your Zone 3 efforts because you’re not tired.
  2. Good technique and biomechanics are key in running to stay injury-free. Maintaining form is far easier in long periods at low intensity and short periods at high intensity.

So, how may a training week look for someone running 3 times per week?

  • Day 1 & 3: Zone 1, low intensity steady run.
  • Day 2: Zone 3, high intensity kilometre reps.

Before you go out I suggest you find a loop nearby of around 1km. Perform a low intensity warm-up for 10 minutes. Then complete three 1km loops with 1-2 mins recovery. Remember, this is your Zone 3 session so you need to push hard. Time yourself, as this will become crucial to progressing your training. After 3 weeks add another kilometre rep.

Build Robustness

The other thing you can do to take your running to the next level – if you haven’t already – is introduce a strength programme. It will reduce injury risk and improve performance – not to mention add some variety to your exercise programme. Strength for running should prioritise single leg exercises. Incorporate this body weight programme weekly.

Strength Routine

Bodyweight Split Squat (3 sets x 8 reps)

Lateral Box Squat (3 sets x 8 reps)

Side Plank (3 sets x 30 sec)

Single-Leg Hip Thrust (3 sets x 8 reps)

Pallof Press (3 sets x 8 reps)


Don’t Over Do It

During lockdown you might have noticed you respond better to training than normal – you’re likely sleeping more and eating a little better too. As a result it’s easy to get carried away and start training more. However, the demands of running are pretty high and there are a number of factors that influence why we become injured. The most common cause being poor load management. Using some simple rules such as not increasing your weekly mileage by more than 5%, and ensuring you keep a day off running between workouts can help support your body in resisting injury.

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