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How to prepare for your first distance run

Get ready for your first 5km or 10km the right way. INTERSPORT gives you a breakdown of the preparation stages and how to train for your first marathon.

Performance diagnostics for runners

How do sports medicine professionals analyse athletic performance, and why does it matter? Learn more about performance diagnostics for runners.

What is trail running?

Trail running can be a great alternative to urban running. INTERSPORT introduces the benefits of trail running and how to get started.

How to prepare for your first distance run

Progress from leisurely neighbourhood jogs to longer distance runs and full marathons with the right training plan.


Get ready for your first longer distance runs with the right training schedule

Your adrenalin is already pumping and you still have months to go before crossing the finishing line. Marathon training is a gradual process that takes time, dedication and plenty of preparation. Finding a training plan that fits into your daily routine is the key to staying motivated and reaching your marathon goals.

To train for a race of any distance, start by creating a weekly training schedule. Prioritise your training during this time and do at least 4 weekly sessions that include the following: 

  • A moderately-paced run of a short to average distance
  • One long run
  • Relaxed jog
  • Fast-paced training or tougher workouts to practise interval training, tempo runs, hills, circuit training and other exercises to increase your cardio capacity for long-haul runs

Mixing things up in your routine will help you improve your performance and reach your marathon goals.


Key tips on training for a 10km race

Congratulations, you’ve made the commitment, created a training schedule and now you’re on your way. Following your training plan, it’s now time to up your base mileage by varying your exercises within your regular routine. Increasing your base mileage at a rate of 10 percent per week is a healthy and effective goal. Training for a 10km race can be intense, so remember to integrate rest days or scale back your mileage once every couple of weeks to allow your body to recover. Cross-training activities such as yoga, hiking, biking, martial arts and swimming are great ways to stay active while giving your body some rest.


Things to consider when moving up to marathon training

Getting ready for your first marathon is all about conditioning and finding out what works best for you – and this takes time. For races between 5km and 20km, give yourself on average about 10 weeks of training time. For a full marathon, plan on slotting in about a year of preparation to be fully trained and prepared for long-haul runs. Running a few shorter races is also an excellent way to prepare physically and mentally for your first marathon. Whether you’re going for a shorter race or a full marathon, following this easy-to-implement training plan will help you feel prepared to run your first marathon with confidence!

Performance diagnostics for runners

Here’s how to understand performance diagnostics used by sports medicine professionals around the world – and why they matter for runners.


What every runner should know about performance diagnostics

For all kinds of runners, precise analysis of performance in areas including endurance, strength and coordination can be beneficial, sometimes even essential. Objectively understanding your performance abilities allows you to develop an individualised, targeted training plan. And you can avoid over-training and injury. Here’s a look at the most common tests performed by sports medicine professionals – and how to leverage the results in your training.


Testing for endurance

VO2 max test

VO2 max is the maximum volume of oxygen you use during intense exercise. Basically, the more oxygen available for you to use, the more energy you can produce (and the better you run).

The test itself involves wearing a breathing mask while exercising at progressively increasing intensity on a treadmill. The result – measured in millilitres of oxygen used per minute, per kilogram of body weight – indicates your cardio fitness and endurance level.

While VO2 max is partly genetic, it can be improved with training. But a very high VO2 rate (i.e. high aerobic endurance) is not everything: many factors ultimately determine performance, including mental preparation, nutrition and more.


Lactate threshold test

In simple terms: our muscles are always producing lactate, which is usually removed by the body. When training at a certain intensity, lactate increases rapidly and accumulates: this is your lactate threshold (LT). To test it scientifically, you exercise on a bike or treadmill at progressively increasing intensity. Your pulse and the lactate concentration in your blood are measured throughout. The results show the precise point at which lactate levels spike (and at which heart rate). For runners, the key is to know your LT running speed – and use it to guide training. By training at, or just below, LT pace you’ll eventually be able to run faster before reaching your LT. Tempo runs at this pace are a popular method of LT training; a good monitoring device is definitely useful here.


Strength and coordination testing

Strength is an important, but often neglected, factor for runners. Serious running performance just isn’t possible without greater overall strength. Some strength tests are quite straightforward, such as the jump test. Experts also measure torso strength, balance and more. Gathering data like this is useful for developing strength training routines that address both existing weaknesses and injury prevention. Simply put, performance diagnostics provide objective information to help runners run better. If you have a goal in mind, and want to plan strategically to achieve it, understanding (and monitoring) the most important physiological factors can be a game changer.

What is trail running?

There are so many reasons to try out trail running! Here INTERSPORT introduces the benefits of trail running and how to get started.


What you need to know to start trail running

What is a running trail? A trail is pretty much any path that is not a road! Trails will often have natural features and great views. A trail could be a small path in your local park, but generally they are located outside towns and cities in the great outdoors.


Trail running vs. urban running

If you consider yourself more of an urban runner, trail running can feel a bit daunting at first. But there are so many reasons to get pumped for trail running! You don’t have to deal with all that traffic, congestion and pollution - trail running allows you to exercise and recharge by communing with nature.

Some benefits of breaking out of the urban jungle and finding a nearby running trail:

  • Changes in terrain make for a more challenging workout
  • Softer surfaces are easier on the body, especially the joints
  • You connect with nature while getting a rigorous workout


What do I need to start trail running?

Simply try going for a run along the trail of your choice, it might be as easy as doing some off-road running in your local park to start with. The good thing about trail running is that you can get going with minimal equipment: trail running shoes, water and an adventurous spirit are enough! Start slowly, choose a simple path and avoid more challenging trails on your first few runs to find out if trail running is for you.


Taking it to the next level

As you start to take on more trails, keep in mind that obstacles such as rocks and undulating surfaces will present more stress on your legs and feet. Train your legs 2-3 times a week with strength-building exercises. Around 15 minutes per session using your own weight or extra weights should do. Minimalism is key when it comes to trail running gear. However, as you advance to more hilly and technical trails, you may want to invest in trail running shoes with tougher soles, a durable water bottle and a GPS device to measure your run – and find your way home if you get lost.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go out and hit your first trail!

Wearables for Runners

Running wearables help you keep track of and improve your athletic performance. Choose the right wearable for you with helpful tips from INTERSPORT.

Add variety to your running workouts

Take your running to the next level by varying your training. Here are 5 easy ways to add variety to your running routine and improve performance.

Simple steps to prevent and treat blisters

Tips on how to prepare against blisters for your next run. INTERSPORT offers simple steps for runners to prevent and treat blisters.

Wearables for Runners

Accessorise your runs with useful wearables to help you keep track of and improve your performance.


Are you an optimiser? Train more efficiently with wearable running tech

Running is often considered a minimalist sport in terms of equipment needed. A pair of good running shoes, appropriate running gear and some water will usually do the trick. Nowadays wearable running technology is being added to the list of exercise essentials to help you reach your training goals. Read on to find out more about the benefits and features to determine if using a wearable is right for you.


Benefits of exercising with a wearable tech device

Wearables collect and evaluate information about your athletic performance and daily activity. They provide details on your running style, your level of fitness and are also packed with features to improve your workout. You can gather information on your running speed, steps taken and your pulse, which means you can adapt your heart rate to your current fitness requirements. More advanced wearables even have the option of creating or receiving forecasts and routines for your ideal run, based on your personal metrics. Often these devices are also linked to an app, so you can easily view your stats when monitoring your runs and activity throughout the day to help you stay on track. Bonus!


Choosing fitness tracking features that are right for you

The features of running wearables can range from basic all the way to high-tech. Although wearables may not seem necessary if you consider yourself an old-school runner, many runners aiming to improve their performance won’t leave home without one. Here’s a list of fitness tracking features to consider when selecting a wearable that meets your needs.

More basic systems might include:

  • Tracker to count your steps, distance, heart rate and calories burned/consumed
  • Notifications on your stats and times in real-time
  • Reminders to keep you motivated

More high-tech devices can also include fitness tracking features such as:

  • Sleep tracker
  • Customised features to show a variety of personal metrics
  • Workout suggestions and forecasts
  • Customised interfaces
  • Music
  • Built-in GPS navigation systems


Gear up for your next run with a sporty and stylish design

Designs come as watches, armbands and wristbands – and the market continues to create ever-more advanced technologies and styles. You can choose between sleek and personalised designs to wear throughout your day, or more sporty options that serve as a perfect companion during your run. Now that you know the features and benefits, which wearable elements are right for you to help improve your running performance?

Add variety to your running workouts

Variety is the secret sauce that will make you a better runner. Here are 5 simple ways to build variety into your running workouts.


Supercharge your running routine: 5 ways to add variety to your training

Running the same old route every week might be convenient – but it won’t take your running to the next level. Eventually, you’ll plateau. A simple way to improve performance is by adding variety to your training. Giving your body varied challenges will take you to a higher level of mastery – as a runner and as an athlete. So how can you add variety? Here are 5 key areas to focus on.


1. Vary duration

Add longer runs to your routine, gradually increasing total duration and building your endurance. Find ways to include both long, easy runs (during which you can carry on a conversation), as well as long “tough” runs at a sustained faster pace – or with fast intervals – in your training. Essentials to take along include a running watch and convenient storage for necessary items.


2. Embrace speed training

Speed work helps you get faster – and improves your skill overall. Incorporate it into your training using strides where you accelerate almost to a sprint, but not quite, for about 20 seconds. Include several repetitions during your usual run. Interval sessions (such as six 1-minute sprints, with 2-3 minutes of recovery jogging) also work well. Ease into speed training gradually and train lightly on the following day.


3. Try different routes and terrains

Trails, roads, tracks and hills: running on varied terrain engages your muscles in different ways, improving your form and strength. Running in nature is a mood-booster, and with well-fitted trail running shoes you‘ll reap the most benefits. The track is perfect for speed workouts. Hill workouts – multiple sprints uphill, with recovery on the downhill – are incredibly effective. The key is to mix it up.


4. Add strength training

Strength training improves performance ability and reduces your risk of injury. Aim for 3-5 sessions per week. Bodyweight-only exercises are sufficient at first. As you get more advanced, use weights to see greater results.


5. Dabble in other sports

For running purists, this might seem daunting at first. But exercises like swimming or cycling can combine well with running. You’ll ensure all muscles in the body are strengthened and will get more out of running in the long-term. With varied running workouts, you can reach your highest potential as a runner. A balanced training plan will help you challenge yourself further – and you’ll enjoy it more, too.

Simple steps to prevent and treat blisters

Enjoy a blissful run – not a blister-run – with these tips on blister prevention and first-aid for runners.


Simple steps for runners to prevent and treat blisters

Blisters are like the proverbial fly on the wall: tiny, but really annoying! These small yet irritating visitors are caused by friction created when your skin rubs against your socks or shoes. The body then produces a liquid beneath the skin to protect the affected area. But do not fret! There are ways to prevent and treat these tiny nuisances so you can continue running pain-free.


How can I prevent blisters as a runner?

There are generally two main causes of blisters:

  1. Friction
  2. Wet feet

Keep the blisters at bay with these simple steps:

Choose socks and shoes that fit: wear ergonomic socks along with a pair of running shoes that leave about a thumbs-width of space between your toes and the shoe’s toe box. Make sure that your entire foot and all your toes have enough space.

Sock material makes a difference: cotton is wonderful and light, but when it comes to running it retains sweat and other fluids. Synthetic materials or wool-blends wick away the moisture from your body to aid blister prevention.

Moisturise, powder, protect: coat your feet with petroleum jelly, a lubricant or absorbing powder before longer runs. Padded tapes and bandages on susceptible areas are also a great option for creating a protective shield between your skin and sock.


You've got a blister. What now?

If the blister shows signs of infection or is located in a difficult area (under the toenail for example), it’s best to get treatment from a professional. Otherwise, here’s how to treat blisters on your own.

Small blisters:

If your uninvited guest (the blister) is neither painful nor preventing you from walking, you can simply leave it and apply a blister adhesive to cushion any impact or friction. Small blisters will often heal on their own. However, if you’re experiencing discomfort, follow the steps below.

Larger blisters:

Large blisters need to be drained. To do this, wash your hands with soap, sterilise a needle with rubbing alcohol, puncture the blister in a few different locations and push out the liquid with your fingers. When the blister is drained, you can apply a bandage to prevent bacteria from getting in. Make sure to air it as often as possible.


Enjoy blister-free runs!

Next time a blister crops up, it is sure to be in good hands (yours!). Or better still: follow these preventative steps and remain blister-free during your runs!

Cold winter runs: our tips for training and running in the dark

Don’t let the cold or dark keep you from what you enjoy! A pre-dawn jog or foggy evening run can be safe and enjoyable with the right clothing and equipment.

Running for weight loss: 4 essential tips

Running is a simple yet effective exercise option for burning calories, blasting fat and improving fitness. Follow our tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your running routine.

Strength training for runners: a guide to getting started

By combining running and strength training, you can achieve faster times and better stamina. We explain why you need to spend at least one workout a week improving your muscular strength.

Cold winter runs: our tips for training and running in the dark

Runners run—that’s what makes a runner a runner. There’s that little voice inside you that whispers, even when you’re tired: Keep going. As a leading retailer for running gear, INTERSPORT understands this. We know your drive and will to perform don’t stop just because the mercury drops or the sun goes down. Cold and dark both present special challenges to runners. However, the right attire ensures that running remains a safe and enjoyable activity, even when outside conditions are less than optimal.


Keep your core warm

Dressing for the cold can involve a bit of a balancing act. The trick? Dress warmly enough to maintain comfort, but don’t overdo it. After all, runners generate their own heat! We recommend running tights and a warm jacket that will allow for movement and won’t add bulk. For winter runs, look for clothing made from functional fibres that are water repellent or waterproof. Cuffs on the sleeves and hem also keep the wind out and your body heat in.

Cover extremities

What about exposed areas like ears, neck and hands? We know you feel the cold here, long after your core warms up. We suggest covering up with items that will maintain a dry feel, even as you sweat. INTERSPORT offers a variety of hats, neckbands and gloves, all designed especially for runners that wick away moisture and sweat. The right socks are also key. A pair of wool-blend running socks do a lot to keep feet warm without sacrificing comfort.


Be safe

Daily obligations often require runners to get in their distance before dawn or after dark. However, if you run in the dark, it’s important to increase your visibility to motorists. We suggest wearing a piece of bright clothing made of reflective material. In addition, wear a headlamp so you can also see as well as be seen.


Be secure

A running rucksack is a great way to keep keys, ID, or even a phone safe and secure. An added bonus: You can easily carry anything else you need for your run. If a pulsating soundtrack is your motivation, just use one earbud or have the volume low so you are always aware of your surroundings.

In other words, there’s no need to hang up your running shoes just because winter is here or the sun has gone down. With a few adjustments, you can run safely and comfortably in the cold and dark.

Running for weight loss: 4 essential tips

Workout trends come and go, but running remains among the best exercises to burn calories and lose weight. Here’s how you can make running part of your lifestyle – and achieve your weight loss results.

Tip #1: Make running a regular habit
Running for weight loss only is effective if you do it often – about 4 days per week is best. The first step, though, is to make running a regular part of your life. Decide on the right time of day (morning, afternoon, evening) and block out the time in your calendar, just as you would for any other appointment.


Tip #2: Start slow
Especially if you are new to running, the key is to start slow, both in terms of speed and duration. Even just 20 minutes a day at first, with a combination of walking and running, can be helpful for beginners. After 1-2 weeks, build up to 30 minutes of continuous running at a medium pace. Once that feels comfortable, you’re ready to move on to the next level.

Tip #3: Not all running is equal
A common mistake is running for the same duration at the same intensity, week after week. Your body adjusts to this level of activity, and you won’t lose weight. Running to lose weight is most effective when you run at a higher intensity. Try sprint interval training, for example 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 3 minutes of active rest (i.e. moderate jogging). Repeat this 5-6 times. By running faster, you build more muscle and will keep burning calories even after your run is complete.

Tip #4: The secret is in the mix
To lose weight (and keep it off), the secret is to combine different types of running plus strength training. Your weekly plan should include a combination of long runs of at least 45 minutes to build endurance, sprint-interval workouts for ultimate fat-blasting, and strength training. Aim for two 15- to 20-minute strength training sessions per week.

The Bottom Line…
Running for weight loss requires some strategising and a well-rounded approach to be most effective. But if you stick with it and eat balanced meals, drink plenty of unsweetened fluids and get quality rest, you will look and feel better than ever.

Strength training for runners: a guide to getting started

If you love running, you may be tempted to get out on the road (or the treadmill) more to improve your strength and stamina. However, one of the most effective ways to increase your athletic performance is actually weight training. A regular gym session as part of your weekly fitness schedule can make you stronger, faster and possibly help to avoid injuries.

What’s the best strength training regime?
Weight exercises that target your core, lower back, glutes and leg muscles will improve your performance, and we recommend a balanced routine to maintain overall fitness. A gym workout can replace one of your runs or be a bonus to your weekly running plan.

The correct approach to strength training for runners
When working with weights or resistance training, you may be tempted to keep breaks between sets fairly short, say 30 seconds or a minute, to maintain the elevated heart rate and feeling of working hard you get when running.
However, unlike running, which uses energy aerobically, strength training’s energy relies on ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine). This energy system concentrates on high intensity, powerful exercises and only lasts between 10 and 15 seconds. What’s more, ATP-PC levels need at least two to three minutes to reach optimum levels again so take your time between sets to recover.

High reps or high weights?
You’re already building muscle endurance when you’re running, so you will not see much improvement with low weight/high rep resistance training. Instead, aim for 6 to 10 repetitions at a weight that you can safely handle but feels heavy. By working out with heavier weights, you will maximise your strength gains – but don’t worry about “bulking up”, this just won’t happen.

Don’t forget your recovery days
You may be tempted to schedule a strength day on one of your non-running days. However, we recommend that you combine training on one day – a submaximal run in the morning coupled with strength training later in the day. This gives a good balance to your hard and soft workout days and allows your body to recover.


Enjoy the run!
With your increased strength, you’ll be able to achieve faster times and greater endurance on your runs. So don’t forget the gym session as part of your complete running workout routine.

A quick guide to running outdoors vs. on the treadmill

When running outdoors is not an option, is it worth running on the treadmill instead? Here’s what you need to know.

4 of the craziest ultra marathons

Ultra marathons are the ultimate test of endurance – physically and mentally. Whether you think they’re inspiring or just plain crazy, discover what some runners around the world are signing up for.

Meal prep basics for runners: 3 steps to success

Even if you follow the best training plan, it won’t be effective if you don’t fuel your body correctly. Discover the best food for runners and create the foundation for achieving your best performance.

A quick guide to running outdoors vs. on the treadmill

Many runners agree: you can’t beat that invigorating feeling of running outside in the fresh air. But sometimes, the weather or other factors make running outdoors impossible – even for the most devoted athletes. On the other hand, there are those who love the dependability of the treadmill. Whether it’s a necessity or if you’ve always been a fan, the good news is that a treadmill workout can be useful and effective, especially if you keep a few key things in mind.


The benefits of outdoor running
Running outside has a slight edge over a treadmill workout. The arguments for outdoor running are hard to beat:

  • It is psychologically uplifting. Spending time outside has a proven mood-boosting effect (which is also very motivating).
  • It stimulates a variety of muscles and is more challenging. You can run both uphill and downhill. Running on varied terrain builds more muscle and develops balance and coordination.
  • It burns more calories due to wind resistance (at least compared to running on treadmills without an incline. More on this below.)


Treadmills have advantages, too
While outdoor running has a lot to offer, there are also reasons to opt for a treadmill workout. Treadmill running is beneficial because:

  • The weather can’t stop you.
  • You can choose from different programs and track your progress.
  • There is less impact on your joints.


How to get a great treadmill workout
When using the treadmill, here’s how to ensure you get a quality workout:

  • Set the incline to at least 1%. This helps to mimic the conditions outdoors so you can burn more calories.
  • Think about speed. Whether running inside or outside, effectiveness comes down to a simple fact: the harder you work, the more calories you burn.
  • Make treadmills your speed-training tool. Think of treadmills as a convenient way to focus on speed training intervals. Experiment with the preset options or try out different speeds and inclines. Above all, challenge yourself.

Running has so many health benefits, the main thing is to have a running training plan that motivates you. Cultivating both exercise habits – treadmill and outdoor running – will give you the ultimate in flexibility, variety, and long-term fitness benefits.

4 of the craziest ultra marathons

Running a marathon is an epic athletic achievement by most people’s standards, requiring incredible discipline. And yet, there is a kind of extreme marathon that is even more gruelling: the ultra marathon, defined as any organised footrace greater than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42km). Going even beyond the challenges in some popular obstacle course races, like the Tough Mudder, ultra marathon participants must cope with things like extreme temperatures, unforgiving terrain and mind-boggling elevation changes – for days.


Marathon des Sables
This ultra marathon or “expedition race” takes place in the Sahara Desert. Participants must complete 156 miles/254 km in 6 days. Consisting of various stages, each of which can be up to 86.2 km in one day, participants must carry their own supplies except water. They do this in temperatures of up to 120 degrees, with sandstorms and humidity to contend with as well. About 1,000 people participate each year.


Hardrock 100 Endurance Run
Calling itself “a test of runners against the mountains”, this ultra marathon held in southern Colorado consists of 100.5 miles on a loop course at high altitude over highly rugged terrain. The elevation change overall is 66,100 feet (over 20 km). Among the challenges participants deal with are altitude sickness, sub-zero temperatures and rapidly changing weather. The maximum time allowed for completion is 48 hours.


This 153-mile/250 km annual race from Athens to Sparta requires running for 36 hours. Here, speed is everything. Along the race there are 75 checkpoints. If you don’t meet certain time criteria, you’re disqualified.


The Barkley Marathon
Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe this trail race. Held in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, participants cover 100 miles on a 20-mile (32 km) unmarked loop. The loop must be run 5 times at up to 12 hours per loop in a total of 60 hours. Except for water available at two points, there is no assistance. As if all this was not brutal enough, it also involves ascending and descending an elevation of 120,000 feet (which is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest – twice). There are also a few quirky twists: runners must find about 10 books along the way and tear out the page number corresponding to their race number to prove completion. Out of about 800 people, only 15 have completed this race.

Meal prep basics for runners: 3 steps to success

Luckily, finding the ideal runner’s diet does not have to be complicated. All it takes is an understanding of some basic principles, which you can then adapt according to your personal requirements. Follow these steps to make meal prep easy.

Step 1. Focus on whole foods
Eating whole foods means foods that do not contain any added sugar, salt and/or preservatives. Think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and lean meats. The best whole foods for runners have a high nutrient density and include eggs, bananas, blueberries, walnuts, salmon, avocados, spinach, and oats, to name just a few. Foods like these should be the building blocks of all your meals and snacks.

Step 2. Balance your food groups
Your body needs the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats for optimal performance. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins help build and repair muscle, while healthy fats help your body work better overall (assisting in the absorption of vitamins, for example). So how much of each do you need? This varies according to the intensity of your training. In general, the more intense your training is, the higher your carbohydrate intake should be. This is especially true in a marathon training diet, for example. Spread your protein intake throughout the day to stay satiated.

Step 3. Plan ahead
Once you understand these basics, you can create meals you enjoy. Stock your fridge accordingly and experiment. By planning ahead, you can avoid mindlessly grabbing an energy bar whenever hunger strikes. Meal prep does not have to be elaborate, however. Some excellent quick staples in a runner’s diet include smoothies, whole-grain muffins (which you can store in the freezer and take out as needed), or low-fat yogurt topped with fruit. Cook up something versatile like brown rice or quinoa. Store it in the fridge to add into leafy-green salads or eat it with a side of baked chicken breast for lunch or dinner over a few days.
A nutrient-rich runner’s diet will ensure your body always has the energy it needs. Of course, don’t forget to hydrate. And finally, listen to your body’s cues and be flexible. If you feel good overall, you’re on the right track. If something is off, continue to calibrate until you find what works for you.

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