Run into 2008

2007-10-18

Running into 2008
Running into 2008
The intensity of summer is subsiding, the season is beginning, motivation to perform is high. These are the reasons that I am writing this series of articles aimed at assisting and persuading our players to increase fitness through running this autumn and winter.

Reasons
I think the non-rugby reasons for running are well known. A couple of rugby reasons are: If you are out of position at any point in the match, and cannot run to get back in position, your lack of fitness is harming the team! Tired players are lazy and clumsy. How many times have you seen a team that sparkles for 50 minutes, then starts to commit handling errors and choose dull options? Good fitness can get you through the 80. Leg speed (backs) and strength (forwards) can increase with run training.

I think that everyone could identify personally with at least one point, and I often suspect the gaijin of falling fowl of the second point. The effects of lack of fitness are occasionally more subtle than simply deep breathing. When exhausted, many body systems suffer. For example the muscles in your arms are less responsive, your mind is less capable of quick thought, your core muscles are less capable of supporting unexpected forces. The results of these are errors, fouls and injuries, all subtly linked to lack of fitness.

Preparation

So now I hope you have decided to do both yourselves and the team a favour by trying to raise fitness. This first article will aim to explain how you can prepare for a year of regular running, dealing with equipment, motivation, nutrition and progress. Suggestions for running sessions and various exercises will follow later. For the time being, try and prepare as thoroughly as possible, you will make it easier for the future.

Equipment
Running must be one of the cheapest possible sports to participate in. Nevertheless, attempting to thrift it completely is a false economy, with potential results of physio bills and decreased motivation following. For an activity which will cost in general 0円 per hour, it makes sense to invest a little to make it pleasant. Another bonus is that the more you spend, the more you feel guilty for not using your new stuff.
First off is the obvious - shoes. If you want to skip the following which advises which shoes to buy, take a good hard look at the shoes that you plan to run in, and ask:

  1. Does the outer sole still have all its tread?
  2. Is the outer sole worn through in a wedge shape at the front or the back?
  3. Have I used them (for sports or leisure) for more than 1 year?
  4. Do they fit?
    1.  Is there about 1cm from end of big toenail to end of shoe?
    2. Does the foot stretch material over width of shoe?
    3. Does the heel enter, and can it move inside, but not slip when laced?

For those buying new shoes, fortunately there are ample running shops around Tokyo.  Asics is also one of the worlds top brands for running shoes, and will almost certainly produce at least one shoe which will fit you. Try the following test to help yourself choose a shoe, if you don't want to ask an assistant, Check this helpful link.


Additionally, be warned of buying too light a shoe. For the time being, buy a shoe labelled as run training, cushioned, support , stability etc. Avoid lightweight, racer etc.
In addition, spending some money on sports clothes will make it more comfortable in both the heat, and the rain and cold of winter.  Don't forget that the easier and more pleasant you make running for yourself, the higher the chances of you making that regular session.

Suggested clothes are:
Vest, lightweight shorts, cap and sub glasses for hot weather
Thermal shirt, shower and wind proof jacket, hat, gloves (tights optional) for colder.
A final note on socks. Try and run with the same socks in hot and cold, especially if they are the socks that you wore when you went out to buy your shoes - that means they should fit well.

Route
Finding a nice route is difficult in Tokyo. You probably know where your greenest area lies already, and I suggest heading out there for your run. As a general guide, try to find tarmac routes over concrete (it is more forgiving on your feet). Try to vary the route if you find yourself getting bored with it, but try to have at least one regular route (we need that to monitor progress).
In central Tokyo, the favourite running spots that I have seen are around the palace, Yoyogi park , Ueno park and along the rivers. If I lived or worked near central Shinjuku, I would probably treat myself once a week to a 1 hour run around Shinjuku Gyoen (in my honest opinion about 200 yen for a close-to-perfect running environment is well worth it).

Nutrition
The guide is probably similar to your preparations before a match. Not eating for about 2 hours before a run is a usual guide, but different people might vary. If you feel sluggish as you run, or suffer from stitch greatly, try to increase the delay. Coffee or tea 1 hour before running can help you to feel active, and to some extent will help your muscles operate.
After running, you should eat and drink soon after you finish your stretches. Water or sports drink will rehydrate you (this is still very necessary in winter!) , and simple sugars (chocolate, banana) will replenish your reserves. This is not wholly sufficient however, and the ideal is to eat a full meal within about 1 hour after returning.
After getting into running, you might notice a tendency to healthy choices in your dietary preferences. This is due to you be coming aware of how choices will affect how you feel as you power through your session. Don't be surprised if you tend from chips and beer to salad and juice on Wednesday night as you start running regularly on Thursday morning.

Motivation
Probably the most critical part of this guide, motivation is what makes the difference between achieving and not. There are a few techniques which I have employed in my years of sporting endeavour which I will relay:
Tell us. Boast to your teammates about your efforts, your goals and your progress.  If you achieve, you will receive congratulations from some, begrudging respect from others. If you start to let it slip, you will prefer to get it back on target than suffer the shame of announcing it to your team.

Compete. If there is someone who has recently beaten you at the bridge run, offer to humiliate them ruthlessly the next time we record times. If your opponent has any y chromosome at all, they will resist humiliation by getting themselves in shape and making a proper battle of it.

Schedule it.  Re-arrange a permanent spot in your week when you can fit it in without the possibility of something else intruding on the time, and giving you an excuse to miss the session. If you are a person who often refers to the schedule, this will have almost instant effect. If you are a person who tends to remember what tasks you have, after a month or so of regular running, you will start to feel that something is wrong if you don't complete the training you planned.

Award yourself. It is a great thing to improve your fitness and your running speed. If you meet your goals, reward yourself with something appropriate, like that specialty decayed eel candy you know you like.
If you listen to music as you run, save listening to your favourite music for a few days before your session, and then allow yourself to enjoy it just as you get started, or whilst you are running. This will hopefully get you in the positive frame of mind which will make you fly through your session.

Monitoring Progress
In order to have any idea if goals are being achieved or not, and to find out which training method works and which doesn't, progress should be measured. Try and work out which of the following you will employ, prior to beginning your training plan. We will refer to it quite frequently, so it is important to choose it early. It must be something that is reliable and consistent, and not inconvenient to record. One of the following is good:
Heart rate monitoring. HRMs are becoming cheaper these days, and are currently the most useful readily-available sports tool. If you fancy buying a heart rate monitor, make sure that the chest strap fits you, that the buttons are easy to press whilst running, and that it is shower proof. (Shower proof generally means that it will be more resistant to the inevitable sweat invasion).
Stop watches and marked routes. Make sure that your stop watch is also easy to start and stop when running or exhausted, and if you don't wear your glasses when running, that it has a large display. Back light is also important for winter. To use the stop watch, you must have found a route where you can easily recognise some markers, and that won't be disrupted (e.g. by a set of traffic lights.)
Challenge. A less consistent method, but more fun. If there is something tangible which you can compare your performance to, use this. An example might be a regular train (can you make it to the far bridge and back before the next train arrives at the station?).

Ready?
Is everything clear? I hope that this makes it obvious how to get yourself ready to get into training. The advantage is that we are starting at just the right time of the year. Autumn will be a great time to run, warm but not too hot, sunny and with beautiful trees (where available). It is better starting now than as a result of a new years resolution when the pavements are icy and the rain doesn't stop for weeks. I hope to hear from those of you who are taking to the streets, and will be bothering those of you who haven't.

Any questions, please speak to me at training, or via email.
Andy



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