We started our series on building your own training plan a couple of weeks ago now and in Part 1 we discussed some of the finer points of what you should be looking at if you're wanting to create your own running training plan. In today's post we are going to look at what I believe to be the three key training sessions you need to have incorporated into your training plan to make sure you are constantly improving.
We have covered these types of runs before, but it's worth going over them again to remind ourselves of the benefits and reasons for adding them into our plan.
This should be the first essential training session in your training plan and needs to be included, no matter what distance they're training for. Speed work helps a runner improve efficiency, strength and speed. Speed work needs to be performed at around a runners 3km or 5km race pace, but for a relatively new runner, a runner "SHOULD NOT" be able to hold a conversation while running at this pace.
I usually do my speed work after an easier day of training and usually run repeats of 800m at my 8km goal pace. A good example of a training session could be - Warm up for about 2km or 15 minutes at a very easy pace with 2 or 3, 50m strides in between - Perform 800m to 1600m repeats with 200 to 400m of walking to recover
This type of speed work is great to be included in your training plan every week, but if you are training for a longer run, you may want to cut this back in the 3 or 4 weeks before your goal race. It helps to improve a runners endurance and directly works to improve VO2Max.
A tempo run can also be known as a lactate threshold training, as the goal is to run at a pace where your body is clearing lactate at the same rate in which you are creating it, with the pace usually being about 30 seconds per kilometer slower than your 5km pace. This threshold means you are running at a pace that is fast enough to allow you to gain fitness and speed, but slow enough to allow you to keep running and not cause you to have the heavy legs you would usually feel when running at a faster pace.
Tempo runs provide a bigger benefit if you are training for a longer race like a marathon or half marathon as these races are determined more by the amount of lactate your body can clear. If a runner performing a tempo run, tries to talk, they should only be able to speak three or four words at a time, and should not be able to talk comfortably.
A tempo run should usually last for about 30 to 50 minutes and should be at a pace that the runner can hold for about an hour. It doesn't have to be in one long run either. You could also run 4 x 10 minute tempo intervals with a couple of minutes break in between.
Even if you don't plan on running a marathon, you still need to include a long run in your weekly training plan. The benefits of a long run is you will increase enzymes in your muscle cells and grow capillaries that allows more oxygen to be delivered to working muscles. You also strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments. I am pretty sure that any runner, no matter what distance they are training for, would benefit from these changes. A long run, performed at the correct pace will also help a runner utilize fat as a fuel source and improve their aerobic endurance.
Your weekly long run should be over 60 to 90 minutes but I always suggest that it not go longer than 2.5 hours, as you are running the risk of injury once you are running these further distances. Your weekly long run will also provide you with a mental aspect of being able to conquer longer distances and does play a good part in gaining confidence before longer races. Like I always say though, you shouldn't let this discourage you before a race...if you can consistently run a third of the distance of your goal race, you will be able to finish your race.
This post has gone through a lot of information and covered the key workouts you should be doing on a weekly basis to hopefully be making progress in your running. For our final post in this series, we are going to bring all of our information together and look at how you should start to think about your training season.
About the Author Hey I'm Vince, an Aussie living in New Zealand, trying my best to make the most of the time I have. I work as a Software Engineer but love to run and all aspects of it, including geeking out on the latest science to help get the most out of my body.
Written by @run.vince.run on behalf of the @runningproject