We had a chance to speak with Gemma Steel, the European Cross Country champion. Gemma has recently enjoyed her most successful year of competitive running to date, smashing three of her PBs before clenching the European Cross Country title. On the back of this achievement, Gemma has given a few tips of her own for anybody else who enjoys running.
- Finding your feet. The fact is that results won’t and can’t come overnight. You need to be patient with things; patient with your training, patient with the races and patient with your progress. When I first began running, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to run too fast, too quickly. By setting off quickly and giving in to the natural adrenaline, I built up a lot of lactic acid in my legs which was a long term hindrance. A big tip I would give is to use the first mile as a warm up and control the adrenaline from the start.
- Nutrition. There are no two ways about it, without proper nutrition your running will always be hampered. It is vital to get the right amount of carbohydrates and protein in order to unlock your full running potential and also to recover from running properly. Personally, I am quite fussy in what I eat and find it hard to reach my nutritional requirements from my diet alone. Sports supplements can be a great way around this, I personally use Forever Living products and have noticed a drastic improvement since taking them on. The Forever Lite protein shakes and Argi + are the two supplements which have helped maintain my endurance and recovery the most.
- Training. My own training has changed a lot as my goals and targets have got bigger and bigger. I would say that for those who are running purely for the enjoyment of it, three training sessions a week is great. It is enough to see improvement but not so much as to run the risk of injury. Generally, I try to train around two minutes slower than my race pace. What’s important with training is that you’re hitting all the different heard rate zones which is achieved by varying the pace of your training sessions.
- Goal Setting. Motivation is one of the biggest factors in running. The nature of trail running is that training can become quite monotonous so you need to make sure you’re always having fun with it. Throwing in the odd race here and there can be a great way of setting your sights on something and having some short term goals to hit. From a running perspective, nothing beat race fitness so having these targets in the form of races can only help you from an endurance point of view.
- Perspective. My final tip can probably be attributed to most sports; keep perspective. There is a lot to be said about a ‘pat on the back’ after shaving a second off your PB and I am a firm beliece in reinforcing training rewards. Some people put a pound in a jar every time they go to the gym and after three months have £60 to treat themselves with. I personally will indulge in my favourite snack or dinner occasionally as a reward for hard work. However you want to do it, rewarding yourself and enjoying yourself is a huge part of maintaining perspective with your running and is absolutely crucial.
There you have it; the top five tips from somebody best placed to give them. For more information about Gemma or to track her progress, follow her on Twitter @GemmaSteel4 or to find out more about the supplements she makes use of, visit www.foreverliving.com.