Core Runs

 Whether you’re an elite athlete, or an absolute beginner, these core runs are the running ingredients you need to create the perfect menu of success.

From beginner to elite level you can apply the guidance below to your microcycle of training (a week to 10-day block).

The only thing that changes as you progress is the volume (how far) and the intensity (how fast) of your running. 

LONG RUN 

Build endurance and aerobic fitness by running (or for beginners walk/running) a slow easy long run every week, from 30 minutes for 5K to three hours for a marathon.

Benefits
Boosts your aerobic endurance by improving V02 max (maximum oxygen uptake).

Intensity: Run at six to seven out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

TEMPO RUN

Run (power-walk for beginners) for up to 20 minutes to an hour at a pace that feels comfortably hard to get used to running faster for longer. Optimal training is progressive, so this is a good one to measure if you can cover more ground in the same amount of time (week three and week six). Tempo or threshold running is great race practise and you can easily fit it in by doing a parkrun, with 10 to 20 minutes warm up and cool down either side (go longer either side if you’re marathon training or feel you need to build your endurance). The definition of this longer sustained pace running can also describe threshold marathon training runs of up to 10 miles at marathon pace, or even longer tempo intervals of such as 3 x 2 miles.

Benefits
This type of running raises your lactate threshold. This is the top end of your aerobic zone, the point before you go into anaerobic (i.e. without oxygen, sprint zone). The higher your threshold, the longer you can sustain race pace.

Intensity: Run at seven to eight out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

INTERVALS

Anything from power walking hard/easy between lampposts 10 times to dedicated track sets fall into this category. Intervals are usually based on short bursts of time, or repetitions around a 400m track, such as 6 x 800M with one minute recovery (which could be 6 x 3-4 minutes for the intermediate runner). The best way to include interval or speed training into your schedule is to join a running club track or road session.

Benefits
Short, sharper, faster high intensity intervals will help you run faster and boost your overall fitness. Speed work will increase the number of type-two muscle fibres (the ones that help you run fast); strengthen quads and improve the strength of the breathing muscles.

Intensity: Run at eight plus out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

RECOVERY

Easy runs run at a conversational pace will help boost your overall aerobic fitness and the more you add in the fitter you will become, particularly for longer distance races. However, don’t just do recovery for the sake of it, make sure you plan these easier runs into your training package.

Intensity: Run at five to six out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

OPTIONAL SESSIONS TO SWAP WITH INTERVALS OR TEMPO RUNS

CIRCUIT RUN

Do this run on the track or on grass. Warm up for 20 minutes. In this run you will combine short, fast bursts of running in a circuit to increase leg turnover/cadence, muscle reactivity and strength endurance, and improve running form and economy and race speed. Between each circuit you will recover for six to seven minutes, because there of lactate build-up.

Aim to do three circuits of six to eight exercises, such as below (as recommended to me by running coach Martin Cox).

  • 30m fast
  • 10 jumps from the ankles
  • 30m fast
  • 10 skips
  • 30m fast
  • 10 side skips with arm circles
  • 30m fast
  • 30m butt kicks
  • 30m fast
  • 30m high knees
  • 30m fast
  • 30m hopping
  • 30m fast
  • 10 squat jumps on the spot

Jog for six minutes and repeat the circuit three times.

HILL SPRINTS

When: During an easy run 

The aim of hill sprints is to improve leg strength, foot speed and muscle elasticity, and develop the capacity of the nervous system. Hill training also improves stride length and stride frequency. During easy running you recruit only 30 per cent of muscle fibres, and always the same 30 per cent – the others are ‘resting’. So hill sprints will remove deficiencies within, and improve the basic overall quality of your muscles (by recruiting the highest possible percentage of muscle fibres including the hard to activate fast-twitch fibres). The steeper the hill, the shorter the sprint. Run easier grades of 10 to 15 per cent sprint for 12 to 15 seconds; and with very steep hills of 20 to 30 per cent, sprint for only eight to 10 seconds.

  • Stretch before you start and do the first two sprints a little slower than the rest to warm into them.
  • Jog on flat ground to start.
  • When you reach the hill it is important to run explosively but not so hard that you sacrifice good form.
  • Keep your body upright, drive with your arms, and try to think about high knees and a high frequency of leg turnover.
  • Allow two to three minutes to walk or jog back down to the start of the hill. Don’t start the next sprint until you feel totally ready to go again (this is not endurance training, it is strength training). Repeat six to eight times.

STRIDES

You can include 20 second strides after a 45 minute steady run and some stretches to flush out residual lactic acid and boost your running economy and mechanics. These short strides include plenty of recovery (around two minutes) and require you to run hard, but not flat out, focussing on form: be relaxed, land on your midfoot, make sure you have good posture. In their book, Advanced Marathoning Pfitzinger and Daiels recommend marathon runners include 8-10 stride reps of around 100m  as part of medium distances runs at least twice a week.

Cross Training: It’s great if you can include weight training, swimming, cycling, walking in addition to running. Don’t be tempted to try to combine running training with super hard circuit classes – choose yoga, stretching and maintenance weight training.

AND DON’T FORGET TO PLAN IN REST & stretch

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