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All you have to do is google training plans and there are millions, these are cookie cutter plans aimed at the mass population. Do they work... for sure.
For a first race I think they are great to bring structure and steady progression to your training.
But for the runner who has done a few races you know what your body can and cant do.
My first Ironman and Ultra Marathon plan I followed to the T rain or shine, Injury or not.. come on we have all done it.
How ever I know what my body is capable of, back to back marathons during my 75km training plan I soon discovered that personally is unnecessary and certainly for a nearly 50 mile race.
1. Long Run
2. Hill Reps
3. Tempo Run
4. Easy/Recovery Run
5. Speed work
6. Cross Training
Long run: It doesn't matter if your training for a 5k or a 100 mile race the long run is a staple in most training plans. If you run too slow you wont produce a stimulus for adaptation and if too fast you run the risk of not being recovered in time for your next session. Some long runs are broken down and include x amount of miles at race pace others are a consistent effort. Long runs tend to be completed at a low heart rate a simple way to workout where you should be is 180 - your age. Another little tip to start on the slower side is 50% of your 5k pace so 30 minute 5k is 6 mins per km go for up to 9 per km.
Hill reps: So here is where you work hard. This works your whole body Heart, Lungs, Skeletal system and muscles. You can do these outside or on a treadmill aka the DREADMILL. Running uphill builds muscular strength and endurance because the major muscles have to work harder to propel your body up the hill. Your using both speed and resistance. The slope of the hill targets the gluteus, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, core and upper body similar to weight training allows you to build more muscle. You can reduce injury whilst working really hard due to running up the hill your stride will shorten reducing impact which will also help build stronger bones.
Tempo Run: This is a faster paced workout also known as a lactate threshold run. Often described as comfortably hard. During tempo runs your body produces Lactate and hydrogen ions the by product of metabolism which makes the muscles acidic leading to fatigue you know that lactate burn. The better trained you are the higher you push your threshold meaning your muscles become better at using these by product's so they let you keep running hard and fast. So are you going hard enough? aim for 30-40 seconds to your current 5k pace or 15-20 on your 10k pace. Using heart rate aim for 85-90% or on a scale of 1-10 you should be 8/9.
Easy/Recovery Run: These give your mind and body a break, forget pace and splits and just enjoy it. These are placed after an intense day. Easy runs help build endurance so their not wasted miles don't worry. This should be at least 2 minutes slower than race pace. You might have to work on slowing yourself down at first these runs are structured to build endurance and strength and at times simulate race day fatigue. 80% of your miles each week should be at an easy pace.
Speed work: Speed work doesn't just make you run faster, It makes you fitter, increases the range of movement in your joints and makes you more comfortable at all speeds which will ultimately help you run harder for longer. Always ease into speed work the fastest way to get injured is run as fast as you can for a period of time. Always start with a 10 minute jog and some dynamic stretches or strides. For a beginner this could be 6 minutes hard effort followed by a minute walk. For an advanced runner it could look like 5x 400 with a 2 minute recovery or even 10x 200 with a 400 recovery. There are 100's of variations just mix it up. For short races do short intervals for longer races do longer intervals.
Cross training: This is anything but running and usually non-impact something like cycling, swimming or weights. Cross training helps balance your muscle groups and allows you to focus on specific muscles. It reduces your chance of injury, It breaks up the running plan and stops you getting bored. It also allows you to continue training with certain injuries.
Once you know how to structure a plan you can make it however you want. Whether you have 3,4,5,6,7 days to train you can make them count.
I'd Include 1 speed session, 1 tempo session and 1 long run days rest between.
4 days to train?
1 speed session/Hills, 1 tempo session, 1 easy run and 1 long run
5 days to train?
1 speed session/Hills, 1 tempo session, 2 easy runs and 1 long run
6 days? If you feel the need to do more then keep it super easy.
x training? even at home is great do on rest days or after a run but not back to back days.
Programme do's and don'ts, lets keep it simple.
1. Never increase mileage by more than 10% a week
2. Don't follow up a speed session with Hill training and vice versa
3. Make easy runs actually easy
4. If something hurts address it don't ignore it.
5. Your long run should be a low heart rate
1. Have goals in mind
2. Fuel for your training
3. Get the right trainers go to a local shop get an analysis
4. Train in the kit your wearing on the day
5. Learn to stretch and foam roll.
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Written by James Maybourn