What to Track as an Amateur Runner and How to Change Your Workout to Improve Performance
It’s never easy to motivate yourself to workout, but it’s especially hard when you aren’t seeing any results. Oftentimes when athletes see no results, they increase the difficulty of their workouts, which can result in injuries. So what is the best way to see or make progress as a runner and prevent injuries? We asked Michael Olzinski, a run and strength coach, what the most important things to track as an amateur runner are. He recommended tracking five things: run frequency, cadence, pace, average heart rate, and elevation.
RUN FREQUENCY: In order to drive adaptation and progress while running, one of the most important variables to track is how often you run. A lot of athletes get tied to how much time or how many miles they run each week, but what’s more important is that they stay consistent on a week to week basis. Runners shouldn’t force themselves to hit a certain number of miles each week, a light 2 mile run can serve more function than a 6 mile run with its sole purpose being to hit an arbitrary weekly goal.
CADENCE: Cadence, the total number of steps per minute, is the best way to ensure you are running in the safest and most sustainable form on a regular basis. Having a slow cadence leads to increased opportunity for running-related injuries and is a one-way ticket to hitting a plateau. Average runners want a cadence between 150 SPM and 170 SPM. Working on cadence through warm-up drills- such as fast feet, butt kicks, high knees, and skipping- is one way to guarantee you run fast and healthy.
PACE: A lot of times athletes obsess over their pace. While I’m not telling you to overly-obsess about it (and don’t think you should), it can be very valuable to track sparingly. You should have a local and familiar loop that you can do when you are feeling good. This is where you can push yourself and work on moving the needle of your performance barometer.
AVERAGE HEART RATE: Tracking your average heart rate seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t know the benefits that come from targeted heart rate workouts. Instead of running at your best pace and farthest distance every day, incorporate low stress runs along with high stress or training runs. This variation will help prevent repetitive stress injuries and give your body recovery days after tough workouts.
ELEVATION: Last but not least, if you don’t have hill running in your weekly routine, you should. Doing hill workouts or endurance runs in the hills is a great metric to look at because it doesn’t allow you to worry about pace or mileage. Running at elevation will increase your stamina at lower altitudes, VO2 max, and increase performance overall. You may not be able to train as hard, but there are a lot of benefits to elevation gain.
**Rhone has recently launched a Running Club! The Rhone Running Club is a place for runners (or those beginning to run) in the Rhone community to enjoy the pursuit of progress together. Log your miles, climb the leaderboard, and find a sense of community as we run together. Keep an eye out for upcoming running events and let's continue to run forever forward.**