What is the best way to prepare for your upcoming race? How much running do you need to do? What kind of running do you need to do?
So many questions! When I hear about how much training some of my friends and colleagues do, I sometimes feel lazy or that I must be doing something wrong but I’ve always found that in 3 runs a week I can do some great training and get some decent results.
How does this break down?
1 interval session
This is usually a 1 hour session, including various intervals of varying times/distances depending on the time of year and the race I am preparing for. When doing intervals, I usually aim to run for a set time at a set pace rather than a set distance.
1 tempo session
The length of this run is usually also about an hour but may be as long as 90 mins if training for a longer race and include up to an hour running close to my intended race pace.
1 long run
Once a week I like to run from 20-25km almost year round, and up to 30-35km at specific times of year. These runs are an important part of any training plan
This all adds up to between 50-60km per week which I have found to be enough for me.
Just starting out?
You can still follow the 3 runs a week, but start out wherever you can, either walk-running or jogging for 15 mins and building distance up slowly (after returning from injury I would usually run two runs at say 20 mins, then increase the time for the third and fourth, then again for the 5th and 6th, etc). Do not try to increase speed and distance at once, but rather build endurance (slow running) first. This is also a good method for those wanting to lose weight because once you are running longer distances you are forcing your body to burn fat for fuel 🙂
More experienced, interested in cross-training or do you want to run something longer?
If I am training for a marathon or half marathon then I would also include 2 strength sessions, where I would include exercises like squats, single-leg squats and lunges as well as some upper body exercises. Usually I am training for multisport events and the maximum I can fit in is 1 per week. Cycling is also a great compliment to running and spin classes are not only fun but a great workout!
When I am marathon training I would also add a 4th (easy) run to raise my weekly mileage to 70-80km per week, but I always try to run the minimum I can and still feel prepared 🙂