What we can learn from Olympic Runners

by kbarry on August 10, 2012

Who hasn’t sat on the couch watching the Olympic runners circle the track in world record times, win gold medals and wish that we were the ones out there?  I know I have.  Olympic athletes are the most fine tuned running machines on the the planet, spending countless hours on training, technique and a little dose of natural ability.  Their training techniques can be adopted to everyday runners to make us not so Olympic caliber runners better during our 5ks, half and full marathons.  Here are three examples of training techniques from different distance Olympic athletes that we can use in our everyday training.

Sprinters – Weight Training
Sprinters use their explosive power to get them down the track as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Longer distance runners may say “I’m not a sprinter so I shouldn’t train like one” but that’s not the case – we all want to run faster and sprinters are the fastest out there.  A large part of a sprinter’s training is weight lifting.  Weights help build lean muscle which strengthens your legs, core, arms making you more efficient when running and helping to prevent injury.  Sprinters like Allyson Felix incorporate weight lifting into their training 3-4 times a week to help build that power.  Weight training should an important part of every runner’s training plan.

Middle Distance – Interval Training
Middle distance runners are that in-between runner that needs the speed of a sprinter but a touch of endurance from a long distance runner.  Most runners will agree that the 400m and 800m are tough races to run because of the combination of speed and endurance that they require.  One of the most important aspects of middle distance runner training is the interval workout.  An interval workout is running for example 8x400m with a 200m walk/jog between each internval.  Interval training pushes your leg muscles to their peak, increases your VO2 max and pushes that lactic threashold allowing you to run harder and faster during your races.  Gold medalst in the 400m Sanya Richards-Ross spends most of her time on the track doing interal runs to improve her 400m times.

Long Distance – The Long Run
Long distance runners push the limits of endurance to run distances most people don’t even feel like driving.  The cornerstone of  long distance marathon athletes like Ryan Hall are the long runs.  Long runs can be up to 20 miles to train for marathons and half marathons and shorter for half marathons and under.  Even if you’re running a shorter race you will want to incorporate a long run into your training that will help build your endurance and finish strong during your races.  When running a 5k or 10k it may not seem like you need to do long runs but getting a 8-10 mile run in during your training will help improve your times.   

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