Our Accredited Exercise Physiology team shares their tips on how to make the most of your daily runs and how to set SMART goals so that you can achieve your fitness goals sooner!

The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused disruption to all our exercise routines in one way or another. This inability to attend our regular Pilates group or drop into the gym has resulted in a lot of us resorting to using our local bike/footpaths and taking up the dreading run as our primary form of exercise. If you are like me and have not run regularly for the last few years, you are probably in disbelief at how hard it is, and how much harder those PB’s are to come by.

Running is an amazingly simple, cost-effective, and rewarding form of exercise that boasts enormous benefits to our physical and mental health. Although running can be as simple as throwing on the joggers and walking out the door, we will share some tips you can take on to make the most of your daily runs and achieve those PB’s a little quicker!

Firstly, have you got a goal in mind for your running? We want you to write down your goals before we continue. If you are not familiar with this, we are going to go through it now. The SMART principle is used as a tool to establish a solid goal.

S – is the goal you are setting SPECIFIC?

M – is the goal you are setting MEASURABLE?

A – is the goal you are setting ATTAINABLE?

R – is the goal you are setting REALISTIC?

T – is the goal you are setting within a TIME FRAME?

Now we have got the goal established we can look at getting into the running itself. An exceptionally large emphasis from me is to start your running with some form of structure or intent in mind. To make this simple, we are going to run through two common scenarios that we Exercise Physiologists see and different ways to structure your runs.

Example One

You are new to running and are not too sure of how you should start. Firstly, remember that we all started somewhere! But a quite simple way to ease into it and not overcook things is to use an interval-type structure. This includes using a set distance of time for your running, and a set distance of time for your recovery (either resting or walking). This is what it can look like:

  • Using a watch, aim to run for 1 minute continuously. At the completion of that minute return to a walk or have complete rest for 3 minutes. This gives you a 4-minute total interval, and you can aim to complete this 5 times through to give a total of 20 minutes.
  • This process can be repeated using the distance method for those who are fortunate enough to have a GPS to track the run. As appose to time, you may choose to run for 200m, and rest for 300m. And repeat that five times for a total of 2km.
  • Notice how the rest period is longer than the work period in both examples. We use this ‘ratio’ to progress the intervals, so you would aim to cut down the rest period in relation to the work to progress (e.g. using the time method, you would increase to a 1.30-minute run, and a 2.30-minute rest, still giving you a 4 minute interval period.). Eventually, the work period will outweigh the rest period and you will be well on your way to reaching your goals!

Example Two

You are a seasoned runner and have been stuck in the same routine for a long period of time without seeing the normal progressions in your times or distance. When this occurs, it can be as simple as adding variety to your runs to restart the progress again. This variety can come in an abundance of forms, but I am going to take you through two of my favorite ways to do so.

  • First off, using a descending set. To perform this, you will need to find your desired running pace. An example of this is, if you wish to run a 25-minute 5km, you will have to run a 5.00min/km. This will be your pace for the descending sets of running. How the sets work, is that you will start with a 500m run at this pace, rest for between 30-60 seconds and repeat for 400m, then 300m, 200m, and 100m to complete the first set. I would recommend completing this set at least twice through. This form of running structure aims to adapt your body to running at the increased intensity, and over time your body will condition to it and you will notice a significant improvement in your running ability.
  • The second running set uses a time basis for your running intervals. For this example, you are going to want to run at a faster pace than your goal, using the example above I would aim to hold a pace of 4.30 – 4.45 min/km pace. Once you have established your pace, you then choose your time intervals, I will use 2 minutes for this example. At the start of every interval you are going to run 250m at the pace set, once finished, you have the remaining time as recovery. So, if you complete the run in 1.20 seconds, you have 40 seconds until you repeat the process. I would recommend repeating this between 10-20 times depending on your goals.

We really hope these tips can be beneficial to you and aid in improving your running! These tips and guidelines are broad and not specific to you as an individual, so if there are any pressing concerns with your running or you are seeking further, more tailored advice then chatting to an Exercise Physiologist is your best bet.