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Guest Post – How Do Olympic Runners Train?

Usain Bolt famously broke the 100m Sprint World Record celebrating 20m from the finish line. When quizzed on his decision to slow his record breaking run he responded,

‘I would like to break it again next time’.

  This show of athletic dominance and incredible running ability is likely to be remembered for generations and steeped in legendary status. Although we appreciate this athletic prowess and the dedicated training regimes athletes’ gruel themselves to perform the seemingly impossible, we very rarely shine a light on the details of the training.

So as a platform to inspire ourselves to achieve like these champions, let’s examine how Olympic Runners train.

Workouts – A significant amount of resistance training is required to build muscles and strength and this type of exercise can either focus on strengthening muscle groups or condition the whole body. Training will incorporate long distance running to figure out the endurance of the body and this regime can gradually be compressed to shorter speed work outs. This method ensures there is not fatigue in the runner and all muscles have a larger endurance.  Successful runners also keep a log book of their workouts documenting the miles, time and pace they run to ensure how their body responds after each training distance.

Pace – High intensity workouts in short durations can help develop pace whilst running faster than your normal pace for that run will build stamina. A good method used by sprinting athletes is to train intensively for two days, followed by two days gentle training so that the body and mind is more acclimatized to short, sharp busts of pace.

Nutrition – Nutrition is critical to the success of the athlete as this fuels the body to perform. Propelling the body forward buns calories and a strong iron intake will prevent the runner from getting tired. Iron delivers haemoglobin in red blood cells which transfers oxygen through the body to lungs and muscles. A lot of iron is lost through sweat so it is advisable to have a diet including pork, lamb, seafood, spinach and orange juice.  Orange juice provides Vitamin C to increase iron absorption whilst calcium and Vitamin D are also vital nutritional components. Those running long distances would be advised to increase Vitamin E intake and plenty of liquid is essential for the body’s performance.

Fitness – During long distance runs it is useful to take breaks to reduce fatigue and the risk of injury. An average long distance run should probably not last more than 3 hours without some respite from the training. Treadmill running allows you to focus on pace and can be underestimated as a training tool. The machine can monitor your heart rate and movements and simulate different terrains and challenges.

Goals – Aside from the physical conditioning, healthy runners will set realistic goals in their emotional outlook on life. One of the key facilitations of the Olympic champion is to possess the winning belief. A professional athlete will develop confidence in their ability as a person and a runner.

Perfect you’re Form – Perfecting your ability will provide daylight between you and the average runner and turn you into an athletic champion. Plan schedules meticulously, and learn the strengths and of your body and its ability. Acquiring discipline in your workout can help you achieve new heights and power through that extra bit of training each day.  If you are inspired by a particular athlete, see if you can model your style on theirs.

Guest author, James Barnett, is a researcher on behalf of Powerhouse Fitness documenting contemporary fitness training and development techniques for senior professionals.

1 Comment

  1. Nathan

    Good article and a lot of this is true. I am a 2.19 marathoner and one of the biggest tactics I teach my readers and those I coach is the importance of training at and below goal race pace. Knowing the difference between pushing too hard and running too easy is key. The higher the level, the more focused you have to be. If an athlete wants to hold 6 minute mile pace for the marathon distance doing 22 mile long runs on the weekends at 7.30 pace isn’t going to do the trick and like you said in the article there are other parts of training that create success..i.e. nutrition, sleep. What are you doing the other 24 hours of the day?

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