Exercising heart rates between 60 and 90% of the maximum heart rate correspond to a rating of perceived exertion of 10 to 12 on the Borg scale, an effort perception best described as comforExercises.
The initial key to successful training is the amount of time you spend running each week and the distance you cover rather than the speed at which you run.
Therefore, at first you should aim to run for a certain time each session. You will run farther when fresh and rested than when you are tired. Remember, the initial goal in distance training is to gradually increase the speed or effort that you can maintain for prolonged distances.
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If you train only for distance, your performance will reach a definite plateau after a few years of training. To improve further, you must either increase the distance you run in training or run the same distance but run some of that distance at a faster pace (i.e, train for speed).
The evidence clearly indicates that increasing the distance run in training is frequently counterproductive, particularly when the weekly training distance goes beyond about 190 km a week. Rather, the judicious use of a limited amount of speed training at the correct time can produce quite dramatic improvements in performance (see Exercises 5.5).
If you wish to try speed training, my advice is to first read all you can about the different methods of speed training (see post 8; Daws, 1977; Galloway, 1983; J.B. Gardner & Purdy, 1970; Glover & Schuder, 1983; Henderson, 1977; Lydiard & Gilmour, 1978; Osier, 1978). Then speak to the expertsthe speed-trained athletes and their coachesand find a group of experienced runners whose running performances are similar to yours but who perform regular speed training as part of their peaking programs.
The reasons for speed work relate to both physical and mental needs. Faster running trains the quadriceps and the fast twitch muscle fibers in all the leg muscles. These are the muscle groups and the muscle fibers that you need during the marathon but that remain untrained if you run only slowly during training. Another benefit of speed training is learning to relax at speed. Furthermore, fast running likely adapts the ventilatory muscles for high work rates and may help in prevention of the “stitch.”
Speed work is also a psychological necessity, because a target is set and a time is laid down. Like the race, speed work is a test of the will. The choice is simply between doing and not doing the chosen task, and there is no place for explanations, excuses, and rationalizations. Only when you have successfully faced that reality in the unforgiving solitude of the track are you ready for that best race.
But speed work is not without risk; the twin dangers are running the sessions too often and running too fast. The athlete who is as idle as myself is not likely to fall into these traps. My ideas about this type of training are described in greater detail at the end of this post, and the ideas of some of the world’s greatest runners are in post 8.
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