A professional hurdler has revealed exactly what breathing techniques, shoes and stretches she relies on to get the most out of her training – and the food she relies on to repair her muscles.
Liz Clay, 25, is an Australian 100m hurdler who is currently placed 72nd in the world for the sport, a place she has held for 23 consecutive weeks.
The youthful blonde from Queensland is in the gym three times a week for two weight sessions and one plyometric workout, which involves jumping.
Liz Clay, 25, is an Australian 100m hurdler who is currently placed 72nd in the world for the sport, a place she has held for 23 consecutive weeks
The youthful blonde from Queensland is in the gym three times a week for two weight sessions and one plyometric workout, which involves jumping
This is essential for any runner as it helps strengthen your Achilles tendons and feet as well as helps with power development.
‘These sessions often include exercises like box jumps, medicine ball throws, squat jumps and bounding,’ Liz told FEMAIL.
‘They do however place a lot of load through your legs, which needs to be taken into account when planning out a week of training. Pilates is also a great low-impact option for accessory core and glute activation work.’
A great way to improve your running, according to Liz, is by doing drills on a lighter day or before you run.
Drills such as high knees, A-skips and B-skips help improve your technique and create muscle memory patterns – the more you do them, the more likely they are to transfer over to your running.
‘Drills are additionally a great option when you feel like getting out and training but don’t want to over-do your mileage,’ she said.
A great way to improve your running, according to Liz, is by doing drills on a lighter day or before you run
She always does a hamstring stretch on a fence or chair, pigeon stretch for glute and hip range, a quad stretch kneeling on one knee, lat stretch holding onto a high bar or door and a calf stretch on a stair or wall
Her favourite way to warm up and warm down from a session is by stretching her major muscles.
She always does a hamstring stretch on a fence or chair, pigeon stretch for glute and hip range, a quad stretch kneeling on one knee, lat stretch holding onto a high bar or door and a calf stretch on a stair or wall.
She will hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice on each leg or side.
Aside from stretching the best way to avoid injuring yourself is is to allow adequate rest between sessions.
‘Rest and recovery is severely underrated and running everyday will probably do more harm than good, especially when starting out,’ Liz said.
‘In my case, within the last year we have added a mid-week rest day into the program meaning I rest Wednesday and Sunday – the quality of my sessions have improved dramatically since doing this.
LIZ CLAY’S BEST RUNNING TIPS:
1. Make sure your shoes are right for your foot and cushioned enough for the distance you are running: At the moment I am loving doing my warm up and drills in my Under Armour HOVR Phantom 2 running shoes and then changing into my Under Armour HOVR Sonic 3 running shoes for faster reps.
2. Warm up: Your feet and calves take a beating when you run – ensuring your warm up includes some foot strength and activation exercises is essential for when you plan to strip up in speed or distance.
3. Food is fuel: Make sure your body is fully fuelled to get you through your session is another essential. Recently, I have been incorporating a little more fat into my breakfast to keep me fuller for the whole duration of the session – avocado on toast is my go-to here.
4. Stretch: As a sprinter, I place a lot of emphasis on stretching before I run but more importantly after and during my warm down. This always makes me feel better in the following days of training.
5. Snack: For snacks I have been mixing up my lunch by having protein pancakes and yoghurt instead of the usual pasta or rice. Protein packed snacks are the easiest way to ensure my protein intake is high enough to help my recovery throughout the week.
To help keep your feet cushioned it’s imperative that you wear the right size shoe – and type – for the distance you’re running
‘Foot injuries can be a huge issue for runners as well, as your feet and calves take a beating. Ensuring your warm up includes some foot strength and activation exercises to avoid lower limb problems.’
To help keep your feet cushioned it’s imperative that you wear the right size shoe – and type – for the distance you’re running.
‘I wear the Under Armour HOVR Phantom 2 running shoes for mid to longer distances – they have a stretchy, sock-like fit, supportive on the midfoot, durable and have a flexible outsole,’ Liz said.
‘I then change into the UA HOVR Sonic 3 running shoes for faster reps as they provide the smoothest ride and have a lightweight cushion and breathable upper.’
While the way you breathe while running is entirely dependent on the individual, runners should always try to breathe through both their nose and mouth when fatigued.
‘During recovery between sets or reps I like to practice nasal breathing however, this can get pretty tough when you are really gasping for air,’ Liz said
‘During recovery between sets or reps I like to practice nasal breathing however, this can get pretty tough when you are really gasping for air,’ Liz said.
‘Nasal breathing has several benefits including the air being warmer and more moist which helps it enter the lungs a lot smoother; your nasal passage filters out unwanted particles in the air; and most importantly allows more oxygen to get to active tissues.’
Liz’s food diary changes every week but she’s always ensuring she gets enough protein for muscle repairing – and to keep up with her rigorous schedule.
Some weeks I use a meal prep service for lunch and dinner, which includes loads of healthy meals – among my favourites include protein pancakes, turmeric chicken curry, and black rice chicken poke bowl.
On weeks where I am cooking myself breakfast looks like a third of an avocado on gluten free toast or two Weetbix and oat milk with banana and honey, plus a coffee.
Post training she’ll enjoy a True Protein shake with glutamine and a snack of YoPro yoghurt or a protein bar.
Lunch will be tuna, rice and veggies or a salad with dinner leftovers.
‘I always try to make something new or different each week for dinner,’ Liz said.
‘Lately I have been making pork meatballs and spaghetti, lasagne with turkey mince or classic chicken pesto with buckwheat pasta.
‘My dinner is dependent on what training I am doing the next day and whether it needs to be a light meal or needs to fuel me up. In addition to my diet I always add in ZMA (Zinc/Magnesium supplement), some BCAAs for recovery and a vitamin C supplement.’