A lot of running articles are focused on how to start a running programme but this feature is all about how to push on to the next level.
You have completed your Couch to 5K training plan. You may have run your first five kilometre or 10 kilometre race. In fact, you are feeling pretty confident as a runner. So how do you move to the next step? That could mean faster times or longer distances or both.
Building blocks of a running programme
Whether you are looking to knock seconds off your pace or move up to half marathon or marathon distance, the building blocks of your new running programme should be about increasing your aerobic capacity. This means the ability to keep running for longer.
At the same time, training your muscles and bones (musculoskeletal system) is important so that your body can cope with the extra load you are putting it under.
While the ability to keep going for a long time is the foundation of distance running, being able to tap into your anaerobic fitness is also important. Preparing your body to tackle hills, sprint for the finish line or simply up the pace a bit is all part of the runner’s fitness toolkit.
Within your weekly training sessions, you need to be including elements of aerobic work, anaerobic work and strength training.
Training at a lower intensity
Aerobic training take the form of a steady run in which your heart rate stays below 130bpm. How long you run for at this pace and how often depends upon what you are aiming to achieve with your running. If you have a specific event in mind, then that should be your focus. If it is simply for fitness, then you may approach your training differently.
Aerobic training can also be used as a recovery from a high intensity workout. You may incorporate a longer run at a lower pace with some sprints or hill runs, or you may simply use the long run the day after an intensive session.
What follows is a generalist week’s training, but with advice from fitness experts such as the Kelsey Kerridge personal trainers, you can adapt and modify to tailor your running programme.
Session One: A long, steady run at a pace that allows you to talk as you run. Aim for 40-45 minutes of continuous running.
Session Two: Do a 10-15 minute steady run warm up. Following some stretching, do 10 x 100 metre sprints with a walk back recovery. Follow this with a 10-15 minute recovery run.
Session Three: Weight training in the gym, focusing on the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves but ensuring your core, back and arms also receive attention.
Session Four: A threshold session. This involves steady running with bursts of speed that take you into the anaerobic zone. Aim for 40 minutes of running, with 8 x 45 seconds of hard running interspersed. Ensure your heart rate has returned to a comfortable rate before you start each hard running repetition.
Session Five: Speed and endurance session. Run 5 kilometres at a pace that is above easy running but not at threshold speed. You should be working too hard to be able to talk but at a pace you can sustain for 5 kilometres. For example: if you can comfortably run a 6 minute kilometre, aim to run at a 5.45/k pace.
Take time to recover
As with all exercise regimes, this running programme should include stretching and or yoga as recovery activities. Build these into your running programme to ensure your hard-working muscles get the care and attention they need to propel you to longer distances, quicker times and a really enjoyable step up in your running endeavours.