Why do I need to do interval sessions?
If you really want to improve your running speed then interval training is the key. A runner who always runs at a steady pace will generally only ever be good at running steadily. By running steadily you improve your endurance capacity, tone-up and often lose weight, but you don’t get faster. If you want to run faster, you have to train faster. The key is to run at speeds faster than you would race at. However, you can only run at these speeds for small chunks of time, so break up the distance into manageable intervals with short recovery periods in between.
What is the best way to improve my stamina?
Stamina – or endurance – is the bedrock of your running and the foundation upon which you build all other sessions – which means it is extremely important. To improve your endurance, you need to carefully and gradually increase the distance of your longest run over a period of several weeks and months. Look to complete a long run at a comfortable, conversational pace once a fortnight and use the 10% rule to ensure that you don't push too far too soon. To adhere to the 10% rule, only increase the distance of your longest run by 10% each time. This way the risk of over-training or injury will be far less likely.
Sometimes when I run I get a stitch. How can I prevent or deal with this?
A stitch is a cramp in the diaphragm (the wall of muscle between the chest and abdomen), which is caused by excessive movement of the internal organs when running. It is a harmless condition – although very uncomfortable – and can be resolved by stopping running, or alternatively slowing your pace and pressing hard or kneading with your fist against the site of the discomfort for about 15 seconds.
A stitch can be caused by several factors, but the most common are poor running form and not breathing correctly, so your first check should be your running technique. The next step is to change your eating habits by avoiding running too soon after eating and avoiding big meals before training – particularly foods that are high in fat and sugar. You should also make sure you warm up thoroughly. Another tip is to follow a programme of core stability exercises to strengthen your deep abdominal muscles, and to practise deep breathing through the belly as well as exhale forcefully – which can help to stretch out the diaphragm muscle, thereby alleviating spasms.
How often should I change running shoes?
With every step you take, the mid-soles of your running shoes are subjected to a compression force of approximately three times your bodyweight. Hence, these will degrade over time and lose their shock-absorbing properties. Additionally, exposure to light and abrasion from pavements further damage the shoe structure. Obviously, the heavier you are the greater the cumulative damage will be – but irrespective of your size, look to replace your training shoes approximately every 500 miles.