The Two Oceans Half and Ultra Marathons will be taking place on 16 and 17 April, respectively, and like every year, it will be a sold-out event. Runners from all over the world are participating in one of the country’s most beautiful races and some are taking it on; as their first.
The beauty of running is that it’s a simple act of one foot in front of the other, a natural transition from couch to 21.1km; however, it takes patience, determination, strength training and a lot of running. It’s certainly not an easy feat.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, who was the first-ever women’s Olympic Games marathon champion, says it best when she says, “I believe in goal setting; first you set a long term goal, accompanied by a short term goal as well as an intermediate goal. I believe in never compromising on these goals. You need to set different goals within your levels of success.” “Each goal looks different for everyone, but they are all attainable,” says Exercise Specialist at Ignite Fitness Eduan James. “Training for a 5km, 10km, half marathon or the Ultra Marathon is at a difficulty level for different people, but with the correct training – both endurance as well as strength training, it’s possible to achieve. At Ignite Fitness, we welcome every body with every goal, and we make sure you grow alongside your success,” he adds.
Here, Eduan has identified key training techniques you can do – at home or at the gym – to support your running progress:
The Ignite Fitness team have detailed five SAQ – Speed, Agility & Quickness – drills you need to improve running dynamics and prime your body for high-end performance.
A-Skip: A-skips sharpen your overall form by emphasising foot placement and knee drive through the propulsive phase. They are an excellent drill for hamstring activation and correct movement patterning.
Tip: Try not to focus on distance but instead, on rhythm and fast foot contact.
How To: This drill is a dynamic progression from high-knee walking. Lift lead-knee to waist height. When it reaches the highest point, there is a small hop forward.
Keep your toes pointed up on your lead leg (dorsiflexed ankle).
Forcefully step down with a mid-foot strike – aim to make a noise when contacting the ground.
Repeat by alternating legs.
B-skips are a development from the A-skip, which further improve your form by focusing on your knee drive and leg extension.
Tip: Stand tall and keep your arms relaxed.
How To: Mimic the A-Skip until your knee is at waist height.
Kick your leading leg out in front of you.
Drag your leading leg back underneath you whilst maintaining a dorsiflexed ankle.
Aim for a mid-foot strike by maintaining a slight forward lean.
Bounding is used to create a more powerful leg drive upon contact with the ground.
Tip: Do not overextend your stride. Your stride length should increase but as a result of your increased power when contacting the ground, not as a result of your overreaching.
How To: Start running at a comfortable pace, and when ready, start to strike the ground with more power on each stride and aim to gradually increase your stride length.
Maintain good form, with a slight forward lean.
This is a drill that improves your running cadence by teaching your leg muscles (predominantly hamstrings) to fire faster. This drill also encourages a mid-foot landing. It can be an effective progression from the Functional Balance and High Knee Walking drill.
Tip: Focus on reducing your ground contact time by lifting your feet directly up underneath you towards your butt.
How To: With your feet at hips width, lower your body down into a half squat position. Lift up your heels, so you are on the balls of your feet.
Start running as fast as you can on the spot.
Strides – whilst technically not a drill – are controlled injections of speed during a regular running session. The aim is to allow you to practice the previous abstract drills in a real running scenario and are therefore usually performed after drills.
Tip: The key is to practice the acceleration while maintaining a very relaxed posture (shoulders and arms relaxed with wrists brushing your hip bones).
How To: Run 60-80m at a reasonably fast pace, but not an all-out sprint.
Walk back after each set of strides to re-focus.
For more, please visit website: www.ignitefitness.com.