There are a lot of variable that would go into figuring out what would be a perfect run. First and most importantly it would be determined by what you are trying to accomplish. I perfect training run for a 5K would be vastly different than a perfect training run for a marathon. Neither of those would look like the perfect run for weight loss or a race. There are some common factors that I think we can all shoot for that would be part of a perfect run for most any goal. I have narrowed it down to 4, see if you agree.
First off you need to get a good stretch in. I am notoriously bad at this. I have never been a flexible person and I pretty much gave up on stretching back in my high school basketball days. I do make the attempt to get my achilles stretched out good before a run, but that’s only because I can feel how tight it is and I’m nervous that someday it’s going to be a big problem. So don’t necessarily take my lead on stretching. Stretching is an important part of a perfect run. Not only does it loosen your muscles to help prevent injury but it also gives you a few minutes to get focused on what you want to accomplish with your run.
You need to have a plan. If you want to run hard make that decision before you start and decide how hard. If you want a long slow run than decide how long and at what speed. If you are at a race pick a goal time and go for it.
#3 Negative Splits
Third would be to build not fade. When running you want your body to learn that it can still go at the end of the run. Splits is a term that you will hear a lot when you are around runners. A split is section of a run that is measured and timed. It could be miles, it could be laps, it could be 400m really it can be any distance that you repeat and time. If you use a gps app or watch it is most likely measuring your splits in miles. So if you run 5 miles you have 5 splits. Each split has its time and the total run is all the splits added together.
What you want to work towards is having negative splits. This is where each split gets faster than the one before. If you have never worked to accomplish this or paid attention to splits before I will warn you now this is not easy. As you run your muscles begin to use up their stored energy. So you will naturally start to run slower if you don’t adjust your effort to keep a consistent pace. What is being asked of you with negative splits is to actually run faster at the end when your body is much more tired. That means you have to make it work much harder.
The most common thing for runners to do is take off too fast. If your goal is to run a half marathon with a 9:00 pace then you don’t need to take off at a 9:00 pace. Start off slower. Let your body get warmed up and then slowly start increasing the speed. In a perfect world a 9:00 pace would probably have a 9:30 first mile and 8:30 last mile. Your overall pace should increase as you go not decrease.
#4 Cool Down
Your body is probably feeling a little rough at this point. If you accomplished #3 (negative splits) then you have your heart racing. Your muscles are on full alert and you are out of breath. It may seem like a good idea to collapse on a bench (or the ground) but your body needs to bring itself back to normal slowly. A cool down jog or walk will let your heart rate return to normal and your breathing recover. This should be done opposite of the negative splits. You want to reduce the speed gradually as you go and finish at a slow walk that has you back to normal.
I am sure that there are situations where these steps won’t apply, but in general if you can accomplish these 4 steps your body will be less likely to get injured and over time your stamina and pace should improve.