Are you training to run fast or to be a F.A.S.T. Runner?

Race season is upon us! That time of year where we gear up for spring races and plan our fall race schedule. Many of us pull training programs off the internet, while others try to replicate what may have worked in the past. Some of us will hook up with a local running group or hire a personal running coach.

All of these scenarios may yield positive outcomes, but what if they don’t? How do you know what makes a good training program especially when training for anything needs to be specific to your goals or weaknesses? There’s no one training plan that works for everyone and sometimes what worked in the past, doesn’t necessarily work again in the future. Age, recover time, life responsibilities among many other factors can get in the way of efficient and effective training. That said, there are overall principles that make up any good training program.

The running experts at SPARK Physio have taken these core principles and designed what the running world will soon use as the benchmark for all training programs:

Welcome to F.A.S.T. Running. This framework will guide a runner through an entire season of running, no matter the race distance. Choose your start point, choose your distance and the program is built tailored to your specific running needs. So what is F.A.S.T. Running? I’m glad you asked…

To become a F.A.S.T. Runner you enter the Foundations phase. It’s important for runners to first know where they are so they can plan where they want to go and how to get there. This phase of training includes gathering baseline physical measures of strength, endurance, mobility and running efficiency by way of our Combine testing. Goal setting follows which allows the SPARK Running experts to design a program tailored to achieving those goals, but most importantly instilling the right habits to create the ideal process of training. Within this phase, runners learn optimal running form, lifting techniques, prep and recovery routines along with fueling and footwear needs.

The next phase is the Athletic phase. This builds upon the principles and habits set during the Foundations phases to further sharpen speed, continue building endurance and strength and maintain mobility while introducing power and agility movements to improve a runner’s speed and resiliency to injury. This is also the time more intense speedwork is introduced into the running portion of training. Runners aren’t athletes you say? You will be after this phase.

The third phase of FAST Running is the Sport-Specific phase. This is the fun part where runners get to put all their hard work into action. Whether it’s race day for the road runners or champion season for high school athletes, this is the time to shine. This phase focuses on race day strategy while keeping all cylinders of speed, power, strength and endurance firing for the highest likelihood of success when it matters most.

The finale? Pat yourself on the back and relax with the Transition phase. This is the time to reflect on the past season of training and race outcomes while giving your body some TLC through active recovery techniques. Now new goals can be set while tweaking the previous plan to modify what didn’t work, keep what did and experiment with new training techniques. Because as we say at SPARK, “The only wrong way to train is without a plan.”

Dr. Ivy L. Jordan, PT, DPT, CSCS, HKC                                   

Performance Physical Therapist / Running Performance Specialist 

Dr. Jordan received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. She competed for four years in cross-country and track and field while attending UMary with areas of specialty in the 1500/1600m, 3000m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase. She continues to be an avid runner who has a strong interest in working with the running population, whether it’s achieving a personal record or taking the first step towards joining the running community. Dr. Jordan is also a high school cross-country and track and field coach specializing in distance events.