Thursday, 19 May 2011

Football: Running before you're walking

Following a running programme is a great way to improve your aerobic ability for football. A 10km run uses a great amount of aerobic energy, a key aspect of the energy demands in football as mentioned in an earlier blog. It is also roughly the distance an elite football player can expect to cover during a game. But with the need for variations in pace and intermittent bouts of sprinting, a combination of strength and endurance are very important too.
For these reasons, the primary focus of any running programme should be boosting anaerobic threshold, improving aerobic endurance, and developing strength to minimise fatigue during the event. The anaerobic system will also be trained- through the use of Intervals (VO2 max). This all serves to improve Lactate threshold allowing you perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.

The three key sessions that will be used to prepare for the 10km are a Tempo run, Fartlek training, and Intervals.

Tempo Run
This session should be completed once weekly, and is aimed at improving aerobic endurance, strength and fatigue resistance. This run should ideally be completed at a high intensity for the duration of the run (best pacing).

Fartlek training
This weekly intensity session has two components to it. The speed portion of the session is conducted as a series of high-speed efforts ranging from 400m in length. These efforts are aimed at improving your maximal speed and running economy. This improved running economy will filter down to slower speeds as well. Each speed repetition is conducted in a fresh state, to allow holding good posture, and achieving high speeds. Focus on being fast, tall and in control of your technique. This will then hopefully translate into a good running technique whilst in possession of the ball as well.

The second part of the session is conducted after 4-5 minutes of easy running to allow recovery from the speed repetitions. These VO2 intervals are slightly longer, ranging in distance from 600-1000m in length. The aim is to boost your VO2max., sustainable running speed and increase your understanding of pacing. Between each effort a short recovery of between 90 seconds and 2 minutes is had, thus only partial recovery is allowed. These sessions will be completed on the track initially but can then be progressed onto the playing field itself.

This is slightly longer intervals done at a speed a little slower than fartlek. The aim is to improve anaerobic threshold, strength and running economy. These should not be done too hard, as this negates the purpose of the session - by doing 4-7 minute intervals the session becomes quite stressful. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is another aspect of Interval training but should not be performed with fartlek training to prevent fatigue.

Recovery run
Supplement sessions with some lower intensity recovery runs. These runs can be completed 1-2 times weekly and should consist of 40-60 minutes of easy running. They should not be stressful at all, and in most cases you should finish the run feeling better than you did at the start.

Warm-up and Cool down
All sessions should begin with a 10 minute warm-up. This will be made up of 6 minutes of easy jogging followed by some dynamic lower body stretches. Inclusion of agility drills such as high knees and butt kicks are also good for the speed sessions. It is also essential to complete an 8-10 minute cool down at the end of each session. This will serve to enhance recovery. In the programme details below, the duration of the weekly long run includes 10 minutes of warm-up and 10 minutes of cool down for each stated running time.

Baechle T.R; Earle R.W. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.) Human Kinetics


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