You’d soon find yourself hitting a plateau if you don’t have a game plan (read: same speed and distance every time).
The solution? Vary the intensity and types of training runs – from long and slow to short and fast – as this will boost your running performance, says Dr Jason Chia, head of the Sports Medicine and Surgery Clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
One way to track this is by monitoring your heart rate. Depending on your fitness objectives, there’s an optimal heart rate you should train at to achieve the best results. This target heart-rate zone is usually expressed as a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR).
Now get in the right zones for your runs!
LONG, SLOW DISTANCE RUN (LSD)
Target heart-rate zone: 70 to 80 per cent of MHR
This slow and easy run helps you get used to running long distances by keeping you on your feet for one to two and a half hours. For beginners, the goal is to run continuously for the stipulated time without worrying about the total distance covered. And resist the urge to go faster or you might end up quitting too soon, says Anthony Sum, running chief of running club Team Fatbird.
Target heart-rate zone: 80 to 90 per cent of MHR
Shorter but harder than LSD, tempo runs typically make up the bulk of your training. They’re done at an effort level that’s just below the body’s ability to clear lactate, (a natural by-product of the body that causes discomfort in muscles). This will help improve stamina so that you can finish the race at your targeted time without feeling tired. As a gauge, you should be breathing harder, but not to the point where you are wheezing or breathless.
Target heart-rate zone: Alternate between 60 and 90 per cent of your MHR as you vary your speed.
Swedish for speed play, fartlek is a form of interval training that involves alternating between fast and slow pace during the session. This trains your body to be able to accelerate even after slowing down during the race, explains Anthony. If you’re doing a 5km run, for example, run at tempo-run intensity and pick up speed at 800m intervals. Keep the sprint pace for 200m before returning to tempo pace.
EASY/ RECOVERY RUN
Target heart-rate zone: 60 to 70 per cent of MHR
Aimed to increase blood flow to the muscles and prevent fatigue and injuries, you’re meant to go easy on this one. You should have no trouble conversing comfortably with your training partner throughout the run.
This article first appeared in Shape.