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With the majority of the female population of the UK, or London at the very least, both signed up and pumped up for this year’s Nike Women’s Race Series 10k, we figured sharing race day preparations and training journeys would be a fab way of keeping each other motivated and trained to perfection for the big 6.2 on June 20th. Get involved by sharing your tricks, tips, and even failures over on Twitter and Facebook and join our collective of runners striving to be the best versions of themselves! 

Whether you’ve joined a crew for June 20th, are training for another impending 10k race, or are even signed up for a marathon – these hacks can help you get the most from your running training and see you smashing those sought-after PBs. Here are our tried and tested, not-so-secret secret tools to get you your fastest 10k ever:

The Stick

We hear it time and time again but it’s often the first part of training to be neglected, despite being vitally important when it comes to a balanced and effective training programme: Recovery is key.

It’s easy to finish a fantastic training run feeling high on how awesome you are then hop straight into the shower and head off for lunch to treat your ravenous muscles to some much needed refueling. But skip on the post-run recovery and you’re setting yourself up for all kinds of trouble later down the line. ‘Post exercise, it is a great idea to help your exhausted muscles with a session of rolling. This is a secret weapon in any athlete’s routine’ says Workshop Gym’s Performance Specialist, Tom Puntis. ‘Triathletes will often spend up to an hour rolling through their tight muscles. Not only does this improve circulation to help the body reduce lactic acid, it also improves the body’s ability to repair muscle damage from exercise. Remember, exercise is fantastic for the body but toned muscles can also become restrictive if not properly stretched.’

Indeed, stretching, rest, sleep, and nutrition are all essential during training. You can put your heart into your running workouts and do everything right with exercise but if you fail in recovery you wont reach your best. Neglecting attention in any of these areas not only denies your body the chance to perform optimally but also sets you up for imbalance and injury. Not cool.

It might seem counter-intuitive to be inflicting tear-inducing pain upon your already sore and depleted muscles but working out those knots is essential for a fully-functioning, PB achieving bod. Tight fascia and muscles cause inflammation within the body which is a fast-track to illness and injury. Releasing this tension allows improved blood-flow so oxygen can reach muscles easily in order to start the recovery process after you’ve gone and beasted them on that training run.

Regular self-myofascial release (MFR) also improves flexibility which reduces risk of injury and makes you speedier as you are able to get full range of motion from your joints so muscles can work more efficiently to power you along that race course.

This is where The Stick becomes your new best friend. To quickly and effectively administer some self-MFR release after your run, apply pressure upon The Stick’s bendy frame onto points of tension within your muscles and hold until the tightness has released. The Stick is a convenient alternative to a foam roller as it’s portable and doesn’t require contortioning into questionable positions and holding plank while you get to those tricky areas. Although we would of course never advocate not holding plank when the opportunity arises, sometimes it’s just not practical!

Treadmill-Based Classes

There’s a reason the treadmill has earned itself the ‘Dreadmill’ moniker. It’s mind numbingly boring, no doubt about it. Why on earth would you spend valuable training time on the belt, staring at that evil red timer and willing it to just… move… faster when you could be outside getting your vitamin D fix and exploring your surroundings?

If you have your eyes on a Personal Best though, the treadmill becomes an invaluable training tool which can save you precious time during training and knock off time on that race clock. Research continually shows that training for both endurance and speed requires a lot more than endless moderately paced long runs multiple times per week. To really add some speed to your heels you have to be adding interval sessions to your training. Interval training, or adding short bursts of speed followed by recovery, is a massively valuable method of improving your running. The t/m can be one of the most effective ways of monitoring your speed during your runs and seeing progression over time, which is also a huge boost for motivation. But we all know that pushing ourselves to go to the balls-to-the-wall, ‘I’m going to throw up’ limits that proper speed training requires can be a tricky little thing and a whole lot of willpower is needed to keep ourselves going when we just want to quit.

Enter treadmill-based group fitness classes. As soon as you chuck those dreamills into a red-hued room of blaring bleats, structured interval programmes and Queen of the Treadmills herself,  Barry’s Bootcamp’s Anya Lahiri, you have yourself a totally different treadmill workout that you could actually, maybe, perhaps, probably  *gasp* enjoy!

A whole host of effective treadmill classes have popped up over the city of late – the best, though, have to be:

Barry’s Bootcamp – the monarch of HIIT group fitness. If you think you know how to push yourself you have no idea until you get yourself to one of Anya’s sessions. The hour-long classes incorporate sections of treadmill running, where the speed and incline are cranked up to the max, with active recovery in the form of floor-based resistance training, which is also an imperative part of race training. If you’re not including resistance work and cross-training into your plan, you’re doing it wrong. But you can let Barry’s sort that for you.

Tread and Shred, Equinox – For those who want to focus solely on the actual running, hit up Equinox’s legendary Tread and Shred class. The 45 minute workout utlises the gym floor’s treadmills and participants are instructed over headphones attached to portable radios. The trainer walks around correcting form and motivating visually (think dancing and lots of ‘thumbs up’ gesturing!). Throughout the class the instructor will remind you how to adapt the session to your own goals whilst ensuring you push yourself so you leave having accomplished more speed and/or distance than the week prior.

Compression Wear

Investing in some good quality compression gear is a fantastic way to boost both recovery and performance. Graduated compression clothing, which hugs your muscles tightly to reduce vibration, has been proven to boost exercise performance before, during, and after workouts through improved circulation, muscle containment and faster recovery.  The best benefit? Reduced muscles soreness – bye-bye DOMS!

For the best quality compression wear hit up athletes’ favourite brand 2XU for functional workout apparel made from the latest technical compression fabrics. The 2XU Women’s Compression Performance Run Socks are an excellent piece to wear both during and after training and can be styled with your best running shorts and worn undetected under your office wear while you recover!

The Hip & Healthy online store is also bursting with the best in funky compression leggings to support those muscles while you train and, let’s face it, look fierce while you do so. Online shopping purchases have never been more justified!

Music

The beauty of the run is that you can adapt your training to suit your personality and goals. Jogging along the river and through the forests with just the sounds of nature and your own pounding feet can be a meditative, calming and rejuvenating way to reconnect with both nature and your own mind. If you are following a structured running plan though, which includes speed sessions and lots of solo runs during the week, music can also play a huge role, not only in keeping you motivated but in turning you into a tarmac-burning speed demon! It’s been shown time and time again that adding beats to your workouts can boost performance by, according to Dr Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the effects of music on exercise, as much as 15%.

Lucky for us, then, that the Nike Women’s 10k Series will be blasting the best tunes over the course! Simulate race day by picking yourself up a pair of Yurbud Inspire 400s. Ergonomically designed for women’s ears, Yurbuds use Twistlock technology which makes them guaranteed to stay in your lug holes even when you kick for that sprint finish. The ear buds are also sweat and water-proof and are complete with on-cord command centre for easy control of your playlists while you move.

Then play DJ and compile a perfect playlist to encourage you while you are out giving it your all. Choose tunes with a BPM (beats per minute) which matches the paces of your training runs and concentrate on running to the rhythm to really utilize those beats to your advantage. 180 steps per minute is often lauded as the magic number you should be aiming for for the most efficient run but anything from 160 upwards will have you feeling faster. No, Let it Go isn’t going to cut it here, sorry…

Our fave 180BPM running tunes:

Throwback: In da Club – 50 Cent

Beast Mode: Lose Yourself, Eminiem

Retro: Bye Bye Bye, N’Sync

Attitude: Missy Elliott, Get Ur Freak On

Indie: MGMT, Brian Eno

Motivation: Placebo, Running Up That Hill

Rock: Everlasting Love, The Black Keys

Remix: Blurred Lines, Master Bob 180BPM remix

Guilty: One Direction, Kiss You

image courtesy of nike.com.

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