A Jog In The Park

Now that I’m getting back to running again, I’m starting to think about how to build up my training program without making my usual mistake of trying to do too much too soon. While a lot of the beginner training programs that I have adapted in the past suggest three to four days of running per week with other workouts in between, I am beginning to realise that this just doesn’t work for me. Not for a sustained period of time anyway.

Looking back at my past training, I seem to do best when I only run three times a week, and then alternate between two and three as the distance starts to build up. Anything more than that, and I generally end up being too tired to train, get myself injured, or both.

So, I have made a decision to run no more than three times each week for the next eight weeks. I don’t have a training plan as such, but aim to run twice at the weekend and once mid-week as I get myself back to being able to run 10K without too much discomfort. And if I don’t feel like running twice at the weekend, then I should be able to fit in two mid-week runs instead without any problems.

In terms of specific workouts, I’m going to see how it goes. Ideally, I’d like to step it up a bit each week and aim to increase each run by 0.25 or 0.5 kilometres, but I’m not going to push it. Not yet. Not until I’m back to into the swing of it anyway.

With this in mind, I headed out to the park this morning for a nice easy walk/run/jog. The temperature has dropped quite a bit and, as I made may way across the railway bridge and up Hove Park, I began to wonder if I should have worn long sleeves instead of my usual running t-shirt. But I soon warmed up once I got moving.

I was feeling pretty good on the whole so I decided to do a couple of full laps of the park, taking in the steeper incline and only walking on the flat or downhill sections. As expected though, I was starting to feel pretty tired around the 3K mark. I thought about stopping at 3.5K, like yesterday, but then realised that if I completed the second lap in full, I would be at about 3.75K. So that’s what I did. And it felt good!

When I got home, I was surprised to see that, even with the increased distance and the walk breaks, my average pace was looking pretty good. Not that I’m worrying about pace right now, but I managed an average of 6:35 minutes per kilometre, which is my fastest pace since I started running again last Sunday.

2014-10-05_Graphs

How’s your training going? Do you use an on-line training plan? How do you adapt your training plan to suit your own needs and requirements? Please share your thought in the comments.

 

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Pace v Effort

I wasn’t sure how this evening’s run would go after yesterday’s brisk walk in the rain. In fact, I almost didn’t go. My lower calves were feeling a bit tight and I was worried that I might aggravate the old achilles injury, but at this stage of the training plan the idea is to keep the pace fairly slow, so I figured I might as well give it a go. If it started to hurt while I was running, then I would simply slow down or stop. As it turned out though, my legs felt much better once I got going.

The aim was to run for 30 minutes between 6:40 and 6:45 minutes per kilometre and, for the first two kilometres, everything seemed to be going according to plan. The pace was comfortable and, with a good head wind to keep me in check, I managed to stay within range.

However, when I turned around to head back, the tail wind seemed to lift my pace a bit more than I would have liked. I wasn’t running any harder (if anything, it was much easier on the way back) but I just couldn’t keep the pace down.

2014-07-14_Splits

In the end though, I realised that the pace itself isn’t too important; it’s the level of effort that counts. The whole point of controlling the pace is to make sure that I don’t push too hard and end up feeling too tired to train later in the week. So as long as I stick to an easy to moderate level of effort, then I should be ok. And, lets face it, a 26 km/h tail wind is going to knock at least a few seconds off anyone’s pace.

So, all in all, I’m happy with the result. My legs feel good, I don’t feel too tired and I’ve got tomorrow to take it easy before my next bout of speed training.

How do you plan your training runs? Do you aim to run at a particular pace or make a judgement based on the level of effort needed to complete the workout? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Trying To Pace Myself

I completed the first week of my Base Training program this morning and, I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good so far.

Today’s run was all about building aerobic endurance, with a 45 minute run at a nice easy pace somewhere between 6:45 and 7:00 minutes per kilometre.

The first two kilometres went according to plan and, on average, I managed to stay within the prescribed pace range. But once I got into the third kilometre, I found it difficult to rein it in and ended up averaging around 6:30 or 6:29 for each of the final four splits.

2014-07-12_Splits

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I do need to be careful to stay within range as I build up the distance in order to avoid overdoing it.

According to the Training Peaks performance manager, however, at this stage I’m definitely not overdoing it. In fact, I’m not making any measurable progress at all.

2014-07-12_TP-Chart
Click On The Chart To See A Larger Version

Even though my fitness is levelling off now, rather than decreasing, if I continue with the current phase of my Base Training as planned, it doesn’t look like I’m going to make any real progress in terms of fitness. Which leaves me with a dilemma.

Do I ramp things up a bit and run the risk of being too tired to complete some of my workouts later in the week? Or do I continue as planned, ignore the chart and just enjoy getting into the habit of running regularly for the next few weeks?

I know myself that the first option would be a huge risk. Running three times a week every week isn’t easy for me and I need to get better at running more frequently before I start my half marathon training; but I’m also motivated by data. I know the chart doesn’t tell the whole story, but I also know that seeing progress mapped out in this way will help me stay on track. Once that blue line starts to go up, I won’t want to see it go back down again!

So, I’ve come up with a plan that might just help. Instead of adding extra running sessions or trying to run too hard or too far too soon, I’m going to introduce some walking into my training program. Nothing quite as strenuous as my day long hikes in the earlier part of the year, but something a bit more challenging than my daily foot commute to and from work.

I’m not sure how or even if it will help, but I plan to do an hour of brisk walking tomorrow morning to see what difference it makes to the chart as well as its impact on Monday’s training run. I guess time will tell.

What training do you do other than running to help increase your fitness? Do you walk, cycle or swim? What impact does it have on the rest of your training?

Base Training: Phase 1

Now that the Race For Life 10K is done, I don’t have any more races planned until the Brighton Half Marathon in February. This will be my first half marathon and I want to get the training right so, rather than jumping straight into a late summer or autumn 10K (which is very tempting right now), I’ve decided to focus on base training for the summer months.

What Is Base Training?

The idea of base training is to build a strong foundation before the race specific training begins. The main objective is to get into a regular running habit and build up some distance, as well as working on pace and technique.

I’ve planned out my base training in three phases, each with a specific focus: phase one is all about getting out there and running regularly while working on maintaining a steady pace to build up aerobic endurance; phase two will introduce some hill repeats to build up strength; and phase three will include running longer intervals to further improve endurance. Each phase will last for four weeks, with three sessions every week, except for the fourth week where I will reduce the training load to encourage recovery.

It’s all a bit of an experiment really, but with more than six months to go before my next race, now seems like the best time to try something new.

Today’s Run

2014-07-07_OverviewSo, with my new training schedule in place, I headed out this morning for my first run, a 30 minute easy run at a pace of 6:45. As I’ve been doing a lot of run/walk/run recently, I figured that setting myself a fairly easy pace would give me the confidence to keep running and not take walk breaks. And it worked!

I managed to run the whole 30 minutes without any problems. In fact, the only problem was keeping the pace down.

The old me wouldn’t have worried about this and would have changed her mind about the purpose of the run half way through, ditching the 30 minutes to push for 5K and a PB. But today I didn’t do that. Today I stuck to the plan and tried to keep the pace slow and easy.

Why did I do that? Well, I figured that one of my problems with sticking to a training plan is that I tend to push too hard on most of my runs, resulting in fatigue, slow recovery and having to skip a run or two to build my strength back up.

So, although today’s run wasn’t fast, it wasn’t about being fast. It was about laying the first brick to start building a solid foundation and a regular running habit before the hard training begins. Let’s hope it works!

Do you include a base phase in your training? What types of workout do you use in your base training? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Fresh Air and Exercise

It has been almost two whole weeks since I last ran, but it feels like a lifetime!

I know I have to be careful as I don’t want to aggravate my Achilles, but I’ve really missed exercising – not just running, but walking to and from work each day. I’ve been doing my daily foot commute for over a year now, and I love it. But when the Achilles got bad, I decided to start using the train to avoid putting too much strain on the injury.

On Monday, however, there were no trains. We’d had a bit of a windy weekend with gale force winds which, although gone by Monday morning, had knocked down trees on the railway lines and put the trains out of action for the morning rush hour.

Of course, I could have caught the bus, but I didn’t want to run the risk of being late for work. So, I headed out the door at 8:30 am and walked the 2.5K to work, keeping an eye out for falling trees and flying roof tiles. Luckily the wind wasn’t too strong and I arrived at work safely, on time and without any discomfort or pain. In fact, I felt amazing, happy and buzzing with energy.

As the week has gone on, I’ve walked to and from work every day and the Achilles is feeling better than it has done in a long time – even better than before I stopped running.

I know that I still need to be careful and mustn’t rush back into running as Achilles injuries start before you can feel anything, and they feel better before they are completely healed, but it’s a good sign.

I still won’t run for the rest of the week, but if I can handle the walking then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to ease back into the training again next week.

For now though, it just feels good to be getting some fresh air and exercise again.

Slowing Things Down

It was one of those evenings when I just didn’t feel like running. The legs were sore, the achilles was playing up and all I wanted to do was settle down on the couch and veg out in front of the TV.

However, it would have been a shame to waste all the work that I put into devising my new training plan, so as soon as I got home from work, I got into my running gear and headed for the seafront for my Tuesday evening ‘easy’ 5K.

Unlike my previous easy runs, I found that I wasn’t as tempted to pick up the pace as much as usual. In fact, I was quite happy jogging along at around 7 minutes per kilometre for pretty much the whole run. This was probably because I was feeling a bit tired, but I was also enjoying the slower pace.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pushing myself to run faster, but this was a different kind of enjoyment. It was almost relaxing, jogging along without worrying about pace or time or distance or about how many people were passing me. And I didn’t care how it looked, going so slowly.

The best part though, was that by the end of the 5K, I felt that I could have gone further. A lot further. Which has got me thinking about moving on to C210K at some point fairly soon.

I still want to be able to run 5K in under 30 minutes and I am determined to achieve that before I move on to the next thing. But running for 10K is starting to feel like something I could do in the not too distant future.

Perhaps I’ll try increasing next week’s easy run to 5.5K, just to see how it feels. For now though, I’m going to give some attention to my poor neglected couch and veg out in front of the TV with a nice big bowl of pasta.

Base Training

Now that I’m getting a bit more used to running a 5K distance, I figured that this would be a good time to start learning a bit more about training so that I can come up with a schedule that will fit into my daily life and help me progress towards my next goal – a sub 30 5K.

Of course, there are plenty of great training programs out there already that I could use, but while the beginner programs seem too easy now (crazy, I know), a lot of the intermediate ones seem to be too advanced for me. So, I started doing some research and found this brilliant article on Base Training.

According to the article, as well as doing long slow runs to help increase areobic capacity and endurance, base training also uses fartleks to work on speed, and steady state runs to help improve your pace as your fitness develops. The idea is that these runs should use a moderate effort to improve your fitness level before moving on to the next stage of improving your speed.

So, having completed a week of fairly easy runs, I decided to include some of these ideas in my own training schedule for the next few weeks.

Training Schedule

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week 1 5K
Park
(Easy)

REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 2
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
30 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 3
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
30 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 4
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
20 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)

REST

My plan is to continue to do an easy 5K on Tuesdays, followed by a 20-30 minute fartlek session on Thursdays. As these sessions will be done in the evenings, I’ll be running on the seafront which is pretty much as flat as you can get without using a running track. So, to make sure I get some hill practice in, I’ll continue with my shorter runs in the park on Sunday mornings.

Hopefully, with a bit of variety in my training schedule, my body will start to adapt more to the demands of running. And, while I will still be trying to improve my 5K time at the Saturday morning parkruns, I’m not going to push it if it doesn’t feel right on the day.

At this stage, it’s about getting used running regularly to build up my general fitness so that I can push myself more in the following weeks when I start training properly for that sub 30 5K.

You can read the article, ‘The Basics of Base Training’, at Running.Competitor.com