How it works
The big number
This number allows you to estimate how hard the upcoming training will be because that value is not only determined by the intensity of the training but also its length. Therefore, it is possible that a tempo run has a higher value than an interval training because it is much longer.
The scale is 0 to 5 with 0 being “no training”, therefore, “no effort”; 1 being “very low effort”; 2 being “low effort”; 3 being “medium effort”; 4 being “high effort”; 5 being “very high effort”.
Training and sickness
The immune system protects us from a large number of diseases. It is strengthened through the right amount of regular endurance training, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. It is weakened through an imbalance of training and recovery, bad nutrition, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Basically, you should only train when you are healthy. Training when you are sick weakens the body even more and delays the recovery. Furthermore, training when having a virus infection is really hazardous and can damage the heart!
If you feel neither healthy nor really sick, outdoor movement can often work wonders. In such a case, go for an easy run and try to sleep as much as possible.
Our heart pumps oxygen-carrying blood through the whole body. The oxygen is absorbed where it is needed and utilized in the energy generating process. Destination and speed of blood flow depend on the need. At rest, e.g. when sleeping, the blood flow through the veins is slow and the heart rate is low. A high amount of blood can be found in the stomach in particular.
When running, the situation is different: oxygen is needed in the active muscles, especially in the leg muscles. The faster you run, the more blood is required. Breathing and heart rate adapt correspondingly.
Endurance training leads to a better performance at the same heart rate and a lower heart rate at the same performance.
When training with a heart rate monitor, note the following:
- Don’t be a slave to the heart rate monitor! Try to develop the feeling of your body and guess your heart rate. You will be surprised about the increasing accuracy of your predictions.
- Rules of thumb like 220 minus age are very inaccurate. Gender, body frame, and vegetative factors (the “spirit”) have an effect on the maximum heart rate. As a consequence, persons of the same age may have a different maximum heart rate.
- Cold and heat have an effect on the heart rate during a training. The higher the temperature, the higher the heart rate.
- When running uphill, the heart rate is higher compared to running on flat ground. The difference depends on running technique. The same is true for alternative sports. Note, however, the fact that more often than not, you don’t have to support the body weight in other sports. Therefore, the average heart rate is 10 beats lower when riding the bike.
- The heart rate reacts to vegetative factors. If you are nervous, your heart rate goes up. Therefore, it is no surprise when at the start of a race your heart rate is already way high.
Eating before the training/race
The main difference between a runner’s nutrition and a non-runner’s nutrition is quantity. Quality and quantity of the supply of nutrients should be as follows:
1. Proteins: 12-15% of total energy supply
2. Depending on amount of training and power
3. Carbohydrates: 50-60% of total energy supply
4. Primarily complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates right after a training or race
5. Fat: 20-30% of total energy supply
6. Focus on quality: more vegetable fats than animal fats, unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids
Before the training: last easily digestible meal about 3-4 hours before you start running. Additional small snacks at least 1-2 hours before.
Before the race: no experiments! Last easily digestible meal about 3-4 hours before you start running. Additional small snacks at least 1-2 hours before (don’t eat too much at a time). Less than 1 hour before the start only carbohydrate gels with enough fluid.
The food that you eat before the training or the race can be used only after it has been digested and the nutrients contained have been absorbed. This means that you should plan the time of the food intake so that the nutrients are available during the activity. The digestion time depends on the kind and amount of food. Basically, food with a high amount of fat, protein, or dietary fiber lengthens digestion time and can increase the chance for digestive problems during exercise. Bigger portions take longer to digest than smaller ones. Each person has to test a little bit in order to find the ideal time of food intake. Food tolerance is usually better in low-intensity activities or sports where your body is supported (e.g. cycling) compared to sports like running where your stomach is “jiggling”.
The meal before the race should be seen as a chance to fine tune the carbohydrate and fluid balance as well as guarantee for well-being and confidence.
Eating after the training/race
After the training/race: the meal after the training is the most important of all. In a nutshell, you could say: the better the after-training meal, the better the next training. In the first two hours after training you should replenish fluids, sugar/carbohydrates, and proteins, thus accelerating recovery. Of course, after a race you may indulge yourself in a treat after abstaining for weeks or months.
Special case marathon: recovery starts right after crossing the finish line. Of course, first of all with fluid replacement. Only three to six hours after the race the losses should be completely replaced if possible. Furthermore, eat easily digestible carbohydrates as soon as possible after the effort, preferably combined with proteins because that way the glycogen deposits are refilled quicker. This also helps stabilizing your immune system that has a temporarily reduced functionality due to the marathon. Fast carbohydrates are quickly absorbed by the body. In addition, this also reduces the activity of stress hormones that abet the before-mentioned weakening of the immune system. Moreover, insulin is responsible for the storage of carbohydrates in the muscles and the liver, promotes the growth of protein structures, and optimally initiates recovery by impacting other hormone systems.
One word in regards to alcohol: alcohol not only causes the loss of your body’s fluids but also hinders the release of the two hormones testosterone and HGH (growth hormone) that are so important for recovery.
The purpose of a training camp is to increase the performance level. The body is deliberately put in “underrecovery” by increasing the training frequency. However, the adaption (supercompensation) in the following rest week is good or even better compared to a week of “normal” training.
An adequate increase of the training volume and the adherence to the intensity in each training are crucial for succeeding. Basically, you can say that in a training camp no one has ever been running too slow. On the other hand, several runners went too fast… It is worth mentioning that a rest day is recommended, too. Since more often than not, not only the training volume but also the recovery is increased in a training camp, the running mileage can be increased by (maximum) 50%. Alternative sports are always possible as an addition as long as the intensity level is low.
If it is an altitude training camp, you have to go through a process of acclimatization to altitude to let your organism get used to the special conditions. At an altitude higher than about 1,000 meters above sea level the partial pressure of oxygen is lower, which means that less oxygen reaches the lungs and, therefore, increases the training stimulus. This lack of oxygen, in turn, induces the body to react by building more red blood cells whose function is the transport of oxygen in the blood. Other adaptions are breathing, the cardiovascular system, blood, and energy metabolism.
Don’t set high and high-volume stimuli at the beginning. Increase the volume with basic endurance runs only as of the fourth day. You should adapt intensive workouts: you can, well, should run 5 seconds slower per kilometer for the effect you are looking for.
By the way: at altitude both the appetite and fluid needs are higher. You have to be careful about that. Otherwise, you risk to hit the wall before the training camp is over.
If you do a one-week training camp, simply increase the volume by increasing the training frequency:
|Before||During training camp (recommendation)||Rest days (recommendation)|
|3 runs||5 runs||2 rest days|
|4 runs||6 runs||1 rest day|
|5 runs||8 runs||1 rest day|
|6 runs||9 runs||0 rest days|
|7 runs||10 runs||0 rest days|
If you do a two-week training camp, simply increase the volume by increasing the training frequency:
|Before||During training camp (recommendation)||Rest days (recommendation)|
|First week||Second week||First week||Second week|
|3 runs||5 runs||6 runs||2 rest days||1 rest day|
|4 runs||6 runs||6 runs||1 rest day||0 rest days|
|5 runs||7 runs||8 runs||1 rest day||0 rest days|
|6 runs||8 runs||9 runs||1 rest day||0 rest days|
|7 runs||9 runs||10 runs||0 rest days||0 rest days|
What to wear
Running when wearing functional apparel is twice the fun. Test it and get to know the benefits of the different sports apparel fibers, no matter if it is cold, warm, moist, dry, or wet. By the way, the days of cotton are over in regards to sports apparel. It soaks the sweat and makes you feel chilly.
When you start running, you should feel cold the first few minutes. After maximum 10 minutes when you are warmed up you should feel totally comfortable.
|22+°C dry||short pants||singlet|
|22+°C Regen||thin, short||short sleeved, thin|
|17-22°C dry||thin, short||short sleeved, thin|
|17-22°C Regen||thin, short||singlet||short sleeved, thin|
|12-17°C dry||thin, short||short sleeved||short sleeved, thin|
|12-17°C Regen||thin, long||short sleeved||short sleeved, thin||gilet|
|8-12°C dry||thin, long||short sleeved||long sleeved, thin|
|8-12°C Regen||thin, long||short sleeved||long sleeved, thin||west with lining|
|3-8°C dry||thin, long||long sleeved||long sleeved Running-Sweater||headband||thin running gloves|
|3-8°C Regen||winter tight||long sleeved||short sleeved Shirt||water-repellent west||hood||running gloves|
|Minus 3-3°C dry||winter tight||long sleeved||long sleeved Shirt||running jacket||hood||running gloves|
|Minus 3-3°C snowfall||winter tight||long sleeved||long sleeved Shirt||running jacket||hood||running gloves|
|Minus 15-3°C dry||short tight+winter tight||long sleeved||long sleeved Running-Sweater||running jacket||headband + hood||thin running gloves + running gloves|
Running in the heat
Outside it is 30 degrees and the sun is burning. Running makes neither sense nor is it fun in these conditions. Doing it in the morning or at night instead makes total sense because training under extreme conditions is an enormous challenge for the body. The fluid replenishment can be difficult, deficiency syndromes are the consequence.
If you are not able to run in the morning or at night but only during the day, you should do it in the woods. Not only do the leaves provide shade, they also evaporate water which leads to an enjoyable climate.
Note that running in the heat tends to lead to a higher heart rate than normally because the body needs to be cooled down additionally. A slower pace is recommended. This is also true for a race.
Headgear makes only limited sense. You may avoid getting sunburned but on the other hand it can cause heat illness. The body can release a big portion of the heat through your head and your scalp. Therefore, the goal of headgear is sun protection and at the same time guaranteeing heat release.
Running in the cold
Running during the cold months is quite appealing: snow-covered fields, frozen puddles, twinkling snow crystals, or steaming lakes. But is running in low temperatures even healthy? Basically, it can be said that you don’t have to worry when running low-intensity in temperatures around the freezing point. When you increase intensity and you are no longer just breathing through the nose which preheats the air, bronchia problems can develop. Cold bronchia causes cough and respiratory distress.
If temperatures are considerably below the freezing point, it is sensible to lower the intensity, let the bronchia get used to the cold, and skip the intensive workout. It is the right thing to do, even if cross-country skiers are still racing. Some of them are asthmatics for a reason.
There are several alternatives: if you don’t want to skip an intensive workout, you can run on the treadmill, fly on the spinning bike, or do an aqua-fit challenge.
Hilly runs or running up one hill is strongly recommended. It is not just a change but it helps develop a strong(er) and (more) efficient stride that benefits you when you run on flat ground. Moreover, different step lengths (uphill shorter than downhill) and landings (uphill on your forefoot, downhill on your heel or your forefoot) allow to better spread the pressure caused by running over the different structures.
When running downhill you should slow down a bit and avoid sections that are too steep if you can. When you do an interval or a tempo run you should choose a mostly flat course.
A long step length is one of the biggest mistakes of beginners and often results in injuries because bigger forces affect the passive structures when the body’s center of gravity is exposed to bigger variations. The professional runner sets his pace by adjusting primarily the cadence, secondarily the step length. For his “normal” runs he takes rather short steps. If he runs fast, he first increases cadence and only after that step length. Thus, the same way as the cyclist who uses the small ring in early season and pedals through the countryside at a high cadence. In summer, he shifts the chain on the big ring and still spins his legs at the same speed. Now he is flying.
Running is a complex activity that needs to be learned. Therefore, when preparing for a race, when you want to improve your fitness, or when you start running an integrated training is recommended. This means you don’t “just” run and make your engine more powerful but you should also think about your chassis.
We can strongly recommend the following addititonal drills that are indispensable pieces of our training puzzle.
A good warm-up is half the battle for a successful training and injury prevention. Blood is transported to the active muscles and the active and passive musculoskeletal system is prepared for the coming effort.
Dosage: Do every exercise for 30-45 seconds. Rest for 20-30 seconds between each exercise.
In the long run, only powerful, intact foot muscles can prevent you from long-term problems like deformations, pain, and mobility restrictions and help you reach your goals. Therefore, you have to strengthen your foot muscles. The simplest version is walking barefoot on grass, in the sand, or – those who do it on a regular basis – in the forest. This optimally strengthens all the running-specific muscles in a natural way. A lot of runners combine a steady run with a barefoot sequence on the grass. Besides the change, you get the desired additional training effect for your feet as well as the calf muscles where the important toe muscles are located.
Additional foot drills let you strengthen specific muscles systematically. You can do these exercises before or after training or when brushing your teeth or watching TV. What counts is you do it.
Dosage: Do every exercise for 20-30 seconds. Walk barefoot between each exercise for a short while and focus.
An optimized technique helps you prevent injuries and, more important, run faster. This is mainly due to the fact that the muscles used in running work together more efficiently and harmonically. Therefore, you need less energy for the same performance.
Every training session ends with strides and coordination runs. They make the movement more efficient which also optimizes the neurological management of running at a faster pace. There are several versions:
1. Normal stride: over a distance of 80 to 100 meters, constantly increase your speed but only to the extent you are still able to control the body movement.
2. Coordination run with kicks: run 80 to 100 meters and increase your speed 4 times for 4-5 steps.
3. Coordination run with short and long steps: run 80 to 100 meters at a constant pace but two different step lengths and cadence, respectively. (e.g. alternating short steps/high cadence and long steps/low cadence every 20 meters, 4 times)
4. Coordination run at different speed: run 80 to 100 meters, alternating speed 3 times: 20 meters at a medium pace, 20 meters at an easy pace, 20 meters at a very high pace, 20 meters at a high pace.
Dosage: ideally, you do every exercise for 10 to maximum 20 seconds or for 20 meters, depending on the exercise. What’s important: quality over quantity! The recovery between the exercises is important and should be at least as long. All technique training sessions end with strides and coordination runs. Do three to five of them with a 60-second rest.
Strength training not only reduces the risk of injury but the running feeling also gets better. At the same time, you will experience two more positive things: first, strength training increases your basal metabolic rate. This means the energy need of your body even with no activity goes up, which in turn has a positive effect on your body weight. Second, you will both be able to run faster and recover faster after workouts. Equipment like the Thera-Band, XCO, or MFT disc add some change, set a new stimulus, and increase motivation.
Dosage: do every exercise for 20 to maximum 60 seconds. At the end of an exercise you should feel you made a big effort. Rest for 60 seconds between each exercise, doing some rope skipping or another exercise if you like.
Exercises for muscle tone reduction
Running as well as our everyday habits cause functional deficits of the musculoskeletal system. These exercises should help resetting the normal muscle tone, thus preventing injuries and increasing the range of motion available in our joints.
Dosage: do the exercises after your training, ideally after a 4-hour break. Hold the stretching position for 1 minute, then change side or exercise.