Principles of Training

I have been asked how I produce training schedules and what benefit we get from each type of session. Over the years I have gathered information from; books and articles, in particular Jeff Galloway's Book on Running, conversations with other runners and coaches and experience. I use this information with the requirements and constraints of the club and the members to produce a club schedule. The club schedule is a base, which aims to improve the running standard, to the benefit of the club in road and cross country races. Saying that, the more interesting part of coaching is adapting the schedule to suit individual situations and goals. Feedback from you is important in developing me as a coach and the schedules produced.

The following lists, in no specific order, or in any detail, components and rules used in producing schedules. I am happy to discuss any points further and hopefully it will encourage debate at the club.

1. Long runs develop endurance. Long runs should be done every two to three weeks. The distance should be gradually increased by up to 4 miles per session. The final long run should be over distance for the goal race. 13+ miles for 10k, and up to 30 miles for marathons.

2. Hill training builds strength. Hills strengthen running muscles while they are running and therefore is better than other forms of resistance training. The hills gradient should be 10-15%. They should be run at 85% effort with jogs down between efforts. If you need more rest, take it. Build up the number of reps gradually.

3. Speed work enables you to run faster. Each workout pushes the body further than it went the previous session. The rest period between sessions allows for rebuilding. The number of reps will build until they simulate race conditions. Build to 20 x 400 for 10k, 13 x 1 mile for marathons.

4. The best way to train is to aim for a goal race. The first stage is base training which consists of easy runs, accelerations during daily runs twice a week and long runs every other week. The second stage introduces hill training. The final stage introduces speedwork. Races can be done during training as speed sessions or time trials, but discipline is required. After a taper period the goal race is done to prove the training. The process can then be repeated with new targets.

5. Rest is an important part of training. For every hard day there should be an easy day. Have a rest day once a week. A rest day can be a slow run. An easy week every third week will give your muscles time to recover.

6. Run a minimum of three times a week. There is a dramatic increase in fitness in running three as opposed to two days. Over 95% of aerobic capacity is gained in training 5 days a week.

7. 1 day recovery is required for each mile raced. Racing and hard speedwork should be avoided until you have served your time.

8. Improvement is based on quality of your speedwork and the length of your long run.

9. Weekly mileage will increase as you progress but mileage alone will not guarantee success. Excessive increases are more likely to cause tiredness, illness or injury.

6 Mile Training Schedule

Over the years I have used this schedule. I used it when I was running my best times and I have used it since to get back into running after illness, injury, disillusionment etc. The basic principle is to run a minimum of 6 miles a day. This avoids the problem of deciding whether to run or not. A minimum week would be 7 easy 6 miles runs - 42 in total. I would then build in speed, hills and long runs. A typical week is shown below with 3 weekend options. The weekend options are typical of when I raced half marathons. The first week I would do a 20 mile run, the second up to 13 mile reps and the third a Half marathon. Note I would allow myself a short run the day before a race. This would usually be to Bedmond and back (3.25 miles) in race shoes at race pace.

Typical training week

Monday: 7.5 mile time trial
Tuesday: Speed session
Wednesday: 9 miles
Thursday: Hills or Fartlek
Friday: 6 miles slow (Rest day)
Saturday: Mile reps or 7 mile or 3.25 easy
Sunday: 7+ miles or up to 20 miles or Race