In the world of distance running, we’re constantly trying to figure out what makes one runner better than another, and what separates the best of the best from the rest of the pack. There are a lot of factors that create a good runner, including efficiency, VO2 max and aerobic threshold, but lately, experts have been focusing on a new piece of the puzzle: fatigue resistance. There is relatively little research into fatigue resistance, and little is known about how or why some seem to have more of it than others, but one thing is clear: if you can improve it, you’ll be a better runner. Check out these tips for increasing your fatigue resistance to smash your PB in your next race.
Hills make your legs stronger and more resilient, which becomes extremely important in the last few kilometres of your race, no matter what distance you’re training for. Strong legs allow you to push through fatigue to maintain your pace and are necessary if you plan on unleashing a killer finishing kick.
On top of training hills, the other way to get strong legs (and a stronger body in general) is to hit the weight room. If you want even more muscle adaptation, try doing your strength work after your run, when your legs are already tired.
This means eating enough food (especially carbohydrates) and drinking enough water. Training when you’re underfuelled or in a glycogen-depleted state worsens fatigue resistance, and teaching your body to run in that state does not translate to better fatigue resistance once you suddenly give your body what it needs. This is especially true for female athletes. If you want to practice maintaining your pace in the later stages of your run, give your body what it needs to do that.
Inject some speed into your long runs
No, you don’t need to do this all the time, nor should you. But periodically scheduling a long run with a faster section at the beginning, middle, or end, can go a long way toward teaching your body how to push through fatigue.
If you want to perform well on race day, you need to give both your muscular and neuromuscular (a.k.a. your brain) systems a chance to fully recover. Your neuromuscular system often takes much longer than the rest of your body to bounce back after a hard effort, which is why a proper taper ahead of a race is so important. Even if your muscles feel good on the start line, if your neuromuscular system isn’t fully recovered, you’ll likely feel the effects later in the race.
We repeat: do not overtrain. This can happen either because you’re running too much, or because you’re not recovering properly between sessions. More than likely, it’s a combination of both. Either way, if you’re constantly doing too much and not giving yourself the chance to fully recover between hard sessions, you will eventually deplete your body’s resources and your fatigue resistance will tank. Know the signs and symptoms of overtraining, and if you see them in yourself, it’s time to make some changes.