Basic Skills Involved in Running Events

sporty woman jogging outdoor
A woman is running on a path. (Image: fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images)

Participating in and performing reasonably well in most running events requires a few key skills. First, you need to develop fundamental strength to complete the event and be competitive. You also need a sense of timing, or pacing, so you expend your energy effectively. The ability to sprint or drastically increase your speed when needed helps immensely. Finally, you need to maintain a form that is both conducive to running well and comfortable for your body.

Endurance

Whether running 100 m sprints or 10 k races, you will need to establish a base level of endurance to compete effectively. The level of endurance required of you will vary depending on the distance of the event you run. Longer events such as the mile, two mile, and longer runs require endurance to simply finish the race. This endurance is built by practicing runs at equal or longer lengths, concentrating on distance before speed.

Pacing

When running longer distances, ration your energy, so you don't spend it all in one portion of the race. This plays into endurance. A pace is usually a small section of your overall distance, run at an ideal interval time, combined with subsequent intervals, to produce an overall ideal race time. This can be as simple as running a quarter mile in 90 seconds, four times in a row, for a total of a six-minute mile.

Sprinting

Sprinting is Important to moving up the ranks in competitive races and finishing strong. You should practice sprinting both from a standstill to build strength, and during a run to build a feel for the momentary strain of sprinting while already under duress. The latter is interchangeably referred to as interval training or the Fartlek method. You can practice this by integrating intervals of short bursts of speed for 60 to 180 seconds into your distance workout if you are a distance runner. Sprinters running events in distances of 400 m or less will want to focus more on increasing overall speed and high-capacity endurance.

Recovery

One of the most essential skills of a event runner is recovery. This includes cooling down, stretching, proper care and rest. Cool down with a five to 10 minute jog after any running event. Once your heart rate has decreased, begin stretching. Thoroughly stretch your legs, including your hamstrings, calves and quads. If you have any soreness, ice the affected muscles and minimize strain until the pain subsides. Finally, every serious training or competition regimen should include at least one day off for rest.

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