As we drift through the last of the summer sunshine and into the autumn months, I find myself yet again, at my favourite season for running.
This year though, i've decided things need to change and have had a complete training overhaul, designing myself something that resembles a program with a little bit more structure.
Now i'm not usually the structured sort. I tend to run intuitively and advocate moving your body in a way that feels good. For the past few years of running, this has led to, what i feel personally, are quite unhealthy habits. I've hit a plateau with my distance and speed that has left me running without any kind of purpose, plodding along and not really getting the most out of my potential. It's time for a change.
" S o w h a t ' s t h e p l a n ? "
The focus of my training is to achieve my endurance related goals, so naturally i'm wanting to steadily increase my volume. The secondary aim is to speed up a little bit (although, admittedly i'm not too fussy about this one...).
So i've spent some time researching exactly how to run more often, in a safe way, avoiding injury and getting the most out of my training. I'm building my aerobic threshold and developing a stronger base of mileage that theoretically will facilitate running further and faster when the time comes.
To do this, i have to run slowly. & i mean reaaaally slowly.
My ego has well and truly gone out the window and i'm not hitting any strava PR's anytime soon. We go slow and we don't care what people think.
(There's an awful lot of science and theory backing up this concept of training, so if you're interested, i'll signpost to some resources at the end of this post).
In a nutshell, running in your aerobic zone has a physiological effect on the body that allows you to run further & still build fitness. Add in a little bit of speed work now and again, and you should see measurable improvements. Build a strong base, develop the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and increase volume - the magical formula to unleashing some longer and faster runs.
The other thing i'm committing to is resistance training. Twice a week, every week, to strengthen my muscles so they are ready for the inevitable hills i'll be forcing them up.
My training split looks a little like this:
2 x easy paced, hilly, mid distance run
1 x easy pace, flat, mid distance run
1 x easy pace, hilly, long run
1 x speed session/intervals (no more than 10% of weekly mileage)
2 x gym workouts (1 upper, 1 lower) with stretching/mobility work
+ some climbing, of course.
When i started this format of training, i was doubtful about running so very slowly and the effect it would have, but already i have noticed some changes.
One of which being, it's actually really pleasant to run slow, be able to chat and appreciate my surroundings.
The second change, and probably the most significant is that my mindset towards running feels completely fresh. Usually when trying to stick to a 'training plan' i'd become demotivated and bail on my runs but knowing i'm mostly out jogging along through the peak district, exploring new trails and not exhausting myself within the first 5 minutes has been a game changer for my head. It comes back to the simplicity of running for me, one foot in front of the other, feeling like the movement is so natural.
It also makes the faster interval sessions feel like a fun reminder of what my legs are capable of.
I'm keeping a fairly detailed log of my training over the next few months so will be sharing more as i develop. I'm also taking a monthly time trial to measure my progress.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the impact a little dedication can have.
the uphill athlete (book)
the extramilest show podcast - #3 Dr Phil Maffetone interview
crushing iron podcast - running slow to get fast
the rich roll podcast - killian jornet
the maffetone method (book)