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Heading out for that road run might do more harm than good – Here’s some tips on how to save yourself some pain.

As an athlete who plays a field sport, you’re going to be required to run….shock horror. Despite this, longer running sessions are not the best way to go about preparing for your upcoming season.

When footy players are looking to improve their fitness with running-based sessions, many don’t run in a way that develops their fitness so it translates into on-field performance.

When a rugby player heads out for a road run, there’s a few things that are likely going to happen:

  1. They’re going to spend >90% of the run with their heart rate in zone 4 and 5
  2. Their calves and shins are going to blow up
  3. A lot of chaffing (especially for forwards)

When your heart rate is out of control and you’re seeing numbers in the realm of 170+ bpm you’re not developing the aerobic base (the intention of a longer road run). To do this, heart rate should stay ~140-150bpm for most people. Lower if you’re older.

When someone who doesn’t do a lot of long continuous running goes out to pound the pavement, it makes sense that all the lower leg muscles are going to flare up. This then has a negative effect on the rest of the training week as your rugby training and gym sessions are then compromised.

A high level of fitness, cemented with a strong aerobic base is necessary for field sport athletes but running may not be the best way to go about developing it. Here are a few pointers for developing your aerobic base as a rugby player:

  1. Opt for off-feet modes off exercise (bike, rower, swim – if you’re competent)
  2. Keep your heart rate under control the whole time – you should be able to have a conversation
  3. Aim for 30+ minutes of continuous exercise and increase as you get fitter
  4. 1-2 sessions per week on top of your more intense conditioning sessions
  5. All year round (in-season/offseason/preseason)

If you can manage that, your aerobic base will improve, meaning you can push harder in the high-intensity running efforts at training, you will recover faster, and you’ll enjoy your footy more – you won’t spend every break in play seeing stars with your hands on your knees.

Have a crack and some off-feet conditioning and save the running for the shorter, harder efforts….we will detail that part in the next one.

If you’re looking for a coach to help you reach your goals and run you through a tailored program designed for you, get in touch with us today!

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