Running expert Max Willcocks shares his best advice for refining your running skills to take your training to the next level.
Max Willcocks is a trail and ultra runner with a background in strength and conditioning. He is also a qualified nutritionist. Max can usually be found searching for the solitude of mountain trails and wild adventures, all in the name of training for some of the worlds toughest ultra and trail races.
Train on hills
Everyone knows hill running is good for you but do you know why? Running hills helps develop leg strength, and due to the incline you will be building leg strength along a larger range of motion. What does this mean? You will be improving your arc of efficiency, the range of which your muscles can work comfortably. The action of running up hill also requires more knee drive, the benefits of which you will feel when running back on the flats. Mix up your shorter hill sprints to develop strength and also longer hill reps to improve your cardiovascular system.
Run at an uncomfortable pace
Have you ever heard that most people run their fast runs too slow and their slow runs too fast? Ultimately sometimes we’re guilty of training in too much of a middle ground and not pushing our abilities. The best barometer for your fitness will be to run a 1.5-mile time trial as fast as possible. This will also give you a good idea of your threshold pace for your quicker runs. If you’re going to go on a recovery run or just a slow burner then there is nothing wrong with really relaxing the pace, you won’t gain anything by running 10/15 secs faster - you have to remember that the goal is strength and endurance.
Take your minerals and vitamins
The easiest way to derail your training is to get ill. Ultimately this can come down to nutrition and one of the best way to make sure you’re up to speed is by taking some supplements. Two of the most important supplements are vitamin C and Iron. Putting in high mileage weeks can really deplete your immune system. Also make sure that you are eating enough foods which contain iron, as a lack of iron in your diet can lead to fatigue. Consult your doctor if your training is making you feel tired to the point that getting out of bed in the morning is exhausting.
Strengthen your core
Good running form relies on strong abdominal muscles to maintain correct posture. This means strong lower abdominal muscles. Swiss ball roll outs will build your lower abdominals so that you can maintain a good lean while running. To hold this posture for long periods of time without any pelvic tilt you are going to need very strong core and abs.
Pick up your heels
The heel pull through is largely dependent on your hamstrings and hips. To increase the length of your stride without over extending and landing with your foot too far in front of you think about your heel pull. During the drive phase, which is when the foot strikes the ground and creates force, focus on a high kick back. This is only applicable when doing interval or tempo running, however should result in a more ‘effortless’ stride. Over reaching with your lead leg will result in higher impact loads and ultimately increase the chance of injury.
Max will be designing an exclusive running programme for Balance Festival. Stay tuned for more details!