Whether you're planning to run an ultra-marathon or just want to ace a 5 km dash around the park near your house, every run is the same when it comes to making it successful — even the pros will tell you a successful run is a structured run, from start to finish. We spoke to Nike + Run Club Coach, Matty Abel, to teach us his ways so we can help you nail your longest run.
POPSUGAR Australia: In terms of speed, how should we break up a run?
Matty: This all depends on the overall outcome of the run, for instance on an easy recovery run we might look to keep our pace consistent throughout our run. However, on a faster run we might look to start off a little easier and progressively build our speed for a fast finish.
PS: Why is our running style so important?
MA: Running should be easy and enjoyable; however, our running style can sometimes affect how we run. Having a poor running style may cause us to use more energy than required on each foot strike, over time making us fatigue a lot earlier than we should. Having a poor running form will also increase our chances of becoming injured. If we look at top athletes like the Nike Breaking2 athletes, their running style will be flawless, using as little energy as possible and return for investment on each foot strike — something many of us strive for.
PS: How do you fight through fatigue early on in the run?
MA: Some days are going to be tougher than others and this might be due to a long working day or back-to-back sessions and fatigue can be really demotivating. On these days, I always choose to run with a friend or a social group to help get over the first couple of kilometres, generally you'll start to feel good after a couple of kilometres. If this isn't an option, putting on your favourite tunes will help you tick over the first few.
PS: . . . And fatigue towards the end of the run?
MA: Focus on your form. As we fatigue our form tends to drop off, which makes running a lot harder, this is also a prime time to become injured. Simple things like thinking about fast feet, pumping the arms and looking forward will help with this. Nutrition also plays a big part with fighting fatigue in longer runs, you will notice the Breaking2 athletes will receive nutrition every 5-10 minutes during their run.
PS: What should we be doing during our last few minutes of a run?
MA: This all depends on the overall outcome of the session. However, most sessions I coach my runners will back off their running in the final minutes to start winding things down. The whole purpose of this is to start the recovery process, bring the heart rate down and shake out the muscles.
PS: Drinking fluids, should this happen throughout the run?
MA: On an endurance or longer run this will all be personal and I always recommend drinking to thirst. If it's a hotter day, you may need to drink a little more, on a cooler day a little less. Also, if you're taking in nutrition on your longer runs, you will need hydration for this to break down in the stomach. A lot of running-related stomach issues tend to happen when we're dehydrated. Before a run, I wouldn't drink too much as you'll be stopping for a few toilet breaks along the way.
PS: How should we be fueling our bodies for a run?
MA: Most runs under 90 minutes can be done in a fasted state. However, if the intensity is going to be increased for the upcoming session we might want to have some form of carbohydrate around 60-90 minutes prior to training (this can be in the form of a banana, for example). Post-training is the most important time to get some nutrition in as it's where our recovery really starts and sets us up for our next session. A 4:1 (carbohydrates:protein) is a common and proven ratio for a post-training meal, whether that is whole foods or through a recovery shake.