Team New Balance Manchester, for those of you who don’t know, is an elite endurance running team of eight based just outside of Stockport in Greater Manchester – and they’ve given us some of their best running tips.
The team is made up of top runners who are dedicated to their training; they cover 100 miles a week each, and use Life Leisure’s facilities to help them gain strength, condition their bodies and recover from their punishing routines.
So, are you interested to know some of their best training and recovery tips? Members of their team have had their say on what they do to improve as runners, so see below for more – and don’t forget to take notes.
Train with others
“The reason we have eight athletes living and training together is because this method, of athletes training together in large groups, has been proven as successful in the USA and East Africa. We live a very simple life – running, sleeping, eating together,” says Steve Vernon, coach of Team New Balance Manchester.
“For runners, no matter what level you are at, training together is an excellent way to motivate yourselves, share the suffering, spur each other on and develop a sustainable training routine,” adds Andy Brooks, Fitness Manager at Life Leisure.
Work on strength
“We table in two to three strength and conditioning sessions each week per athlete. Endurance athletes don’t go to the gym to get big and strong, but to build power and to make themselves more stable and robust. Stability is a massive must for a runner; the more stable and symmetrical you are, the less injuries you will sustain, and you’ll be able to train harder, whilst pushing yourself further,” explains Vernon.
“If you’re into running, no matter what age or ability you are, putting aside one session a week for strength and conditioning training will help protect you from injury when you’re out for a run. Different people will need different exercises to help work on weak areas, so always ask your coach, gym leader or PT for advice. However, some very basic strength and conditioning exercises that will help any runner are squats, lunges and planks,” says Brooks.
Properly warm up
“You don’t want to go straight from a sedentary state into any intense activity; warming up prepares the body for exercise. If you don’t warm up, you are more likely to get problems with injury. We do a dynamic warm up before any exercise – this usually takes between twenty and thirty minutes – but the less intense the exercise is going to be, the shorter the warm up can be,” explains Ross Millington, Team GB Olympic runner and member of Team New Balance Manchester.
“Unless you’re running 10k lengths and above at a steady or fast rate, you don’t always have to warm up for 20-30 minutes,” advises Brooks. “However, whatever exercise you’re doing, it’s always best to spend five to ten minutes getting the blood flowing. The best way to warm up before a run is walk gently for up to five minutes, then up the pace and stride length for another five; then finish with some dynamic stretches. Try and avoid static stretches before running, as they have been linked to an increased injury risk.”
Jonny Mellor, elite runner with Team New Balance Manchester, states: “Staying hydrated is extremely important, whether you’re an elite athlete or a recreational runner. Even being slightly dehydrated can have a big impact on your performance. It can also affect you in your day-to-day life – causing headaches, dizziness and lethargy. Dehydration hampers recovery and puts you at a greater risk of injury. The more you exercise and the warmer it is, the more you need to drink.”
“It’s always good practise to stay hydrated, whether you’re exercising or not,” adds Brooks. “When out and about or at the gym make sure you have plenty of water or low-calorie sports drinks with you, especially if you don’t have easy access to a tap or shop.”
Think about nutrition
“It’s easy to overcomplicate nutrition – thinking that you have to eat certain things at certain times of the day. As elite athletes, we try to keep it simple when it comes to our meals and just try to ensure we’re getting the right balance of foods,” claims Eli Kirk, Team Wales Commonwealth Games runner and team member.
“We always make sure we’re getting a good balance of carbs, protein, some healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables. Usually I run before breakfast and then come back and have porridge – I’ll add frozen berries for antioxidants, some protein powder and some peanut butter for healthy fats. It’s pretty simple really; you don’t need anything too fancy. And we also like the odd dessert; we don’t deprive ourselves!”
Plan your recovery
“The key for any serious runner to improve and operate at their fullest potential is recovery and adaptation. For example, we’ll have a hard run in the morning, followed by some strength and conditioning work. Then we’ll have an easy run in the evening, so we’re not training hard again,” says Vernon.
“In addition, we have specific hard days and specific easier days – if you don’t have those easier days, then you’re not recovering enough and allowing your body to adapt. In order to help your body recover and adapt it’s important to keep an eye on your nutrition and keep yourself hydrated.”