5 things we can learn from Olympic Runners

If you are like me, you have probably been catching as much of the running Olympic Games action as you can. As I sat down to pen this Mo Farah has just defended his 5000m Olympic Gold medal, which he won in 2012 at the London Olympic Games.

Whether it be the track or the Marathon on the road, there is no end to inspiration from watching the world’s best, do what they are best in the world at doing-running fast.

While it can at time feel demoralising to watch these amazing athletes (Olympians) seemingly effortlessly run fast lap after fast, or post remarkable times-it can also be incredibly motivating. I find I just want to get my shoes on, push hard in training, and discover my running limits (withe the occasional commentator’s voice calling me every stride!).

But aside from the motivation and inspiration that the Olympic runners provide us with, they can also provide us with key learning and insights into what boosts running performance.

Here’s 5 learnings that we can talk from Olympic runners:

1. Running fast requires consistent training. In all cases Olympians best running form is found on the back of many constant years of training. I once heard Australian Marathon legend Steve Monaghetti say that running fast required him to run twice a day for 10 years-there was no luck, just genetic talent mixed with consistent work. While running fast is not just a function of volume and more volume, it is a function of running consistently.

2. Injury avoidance can be bolstered by there being no major reductions in running load through-out a running year. Olympians will typically take a most a week of two of reduced loading over the course of a year of running. In contrast many recreational runners, will take months off from running. What is interesting is that recent research into the role of load management on sports injuries, supports that keeping loads constant through-out a year can be injury protective. By comparison the cycle of complete rest with return to running that many recreational runners cycle through may in fact be problematic.

3. To run fast and avoid injury, runners need to perform some form of strength training regularly. As a physiotherapist I have long been a proponent of runners completing small amounts of strength training regularly throughout a week. This does not necessarily heading off to a gym, much of the exercise I prescribe can be completed inside of 10 minutes from home. The frequency of strength training exercises is proportionate to the distance a runner is completing in training; the more mileage, the more regular the exercises need to be.

4. Olympic runners avoid training fatigued. This is a key difference between professional athletes and recreational runners who are training and holding down work and often times family duties. As a recreational runner still seeking my best performances across the marathon distance, juggling running a busy physiotherapy practice (POGO Physio), and a growing family (now two girls), I find getting the ideal rest between sessions incredibly tricky. For example running fatigued can increase the impact forces with hip adduction during the stance phase of running, increasing the likelihood of developing ITB and knee injury.

5. Olympic runners pay attention to their coaches. Accountability helps anyone looking to improve performance. You will always hear a successful Olympic runner pay homage to their support crew, quite often beginning with their coach. If you are a recreational runner void of a coach or program, yet you are looking to improve your running performance, now may be the time to look for coach and discover your new limits.

All the very best with your running!

Brad Beer

Physiotherapist

Founder POGO Physio

Author Amazon Running & Jogging Bestseller ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!

P.S recentlly caught up with one of Australia’s greatets ever mens runners Craig Mottram on my podcast-to enjoy the episode click HERE>>