running sessions for a quality workout
every runner should know...
Fitting a quality training session into a busy working week as well as
domestic obligations can be tough, sometimes we all need a bit of
guidance and structure. Here are the main key running sessions that
should be an integral part of your running week. They are brilliant to
fit in early mornings, lunchtimes or after work whilst still giving you
the most out of your workout time.
Never start a session without a proper warm up. This should be roughly
10 minutes with some easy jogging, drills (such as butt kicks, high
knees and strides) to flex the main muscle groups. Without a proper
warm up you are exposing yourself to injury - which can put you out of
training for weeks.
Cooling down and recovery
As well as a good warm up, make sure you don't forget the cool down.
Again 10 minutes of easy jogging should suffice. Couple this with a
recovery including some basic stretches and if you have time a hot/cold
shower can work wonders to remove excess lactic acid and muscle aches.
Try showering under hot water for 3 minutes then under cold water for
30 seconds and repeat.
1) The tempo run
Tempo runs are carried out close to your anaerobic threshold and great
for improving endurance over distance, speed, anaerobic thresholds and
your general running economy. It’s a great session for all
running regardless of your distance however this session focuses on
improving your race times for distances of 10 km up to marathons.
Your anaerobic threshold is generally defined as the pace that you
could run a 10km race in. Another way of measuring it is by your
ability to speak while running; here it should be slightly difficult to
try talking at this pace.
Start with a 10 minute warm up, picking up the pace to your anaerobic
threshold for 15 minutes then run another 15 minutes at a cool down
jogging pace to recover.
2) Hill repeats
Hill repeats work magic to get your strength up to scratch for
undulating courses and longer events such as marathons building
endurance and running economy.
Start with a 10 minute warm up then follow with 5 minutes running at a
similar pace to your tempo run. Now you are ready to start the hills.
Each hill drill should roughly be 2 minutes up and a tempo run
intensity. While running up the hill, focus on a powerful leg drive and
steady but slightly forward posture, attacking the hill. However
remember to take slightly smaller strides into the hill to prevent
muscle strain. At the top of the hill immediately jog back down but it
is crucial not to over stride as this can damage your legs so slow your
pace slightly and let your legs naturally fall into a pace down the
hill without trying to jar your muscles.
3) Fartlek runs
A strange name, but a great session nonetheless! Fartlek derives from
the Swedish for 'speed play' so there's no problem guessing the style
of this session!
Start the run with the 10 minute warm up to get to a comfortable pace.
Here is where you can experiment. The idea of a fartlek run is to put
intervals of fast pace sprints in between slower parts - as fast as you
like, as often as you like. It’s a good idea to start these
sessions with a small number of sprints initially (for example 3 or 4)
and build up to more in time.
Great tips to spice up the run is to try running the sprints up hills
or picking two points to sprint between on your run. Additionally, try
taking a partner with you and take it in turns to sprint so the runner
who sprints in front acts as the marker for the next then sprint to.
Fartlek runs are great as they can be done over naturally undulating
courses such as woodlands, parks, golf courses or fields. Here the
control is yours to see fit how far, fast and how many intervals you
want - so make the session fun!
4) Anaerobic threshold intervals
These runs aim to increase your anaerobic threshold. This is the point
lactic acid that builds in your muscles is greater than the speed of
its removal. By improving your threshold by making it higher you will
become less fatigued therefore able to run faster for longer. This
factor determines how long you can maintain speed at a distance, so a
great way to improve race times generally but also improve your race
Start once again with a 10 minute warm up to loosen your muscles. Then
complete 2 or 3 repetitions of 5 minute intervals carried out at
intensity much like a 10km race. Here you should try to run slightly
above your anaerobic threshold. Between each interval give yourself a 3
After you have completed your intervals finish off with a 10 minute
cool down. These sessions work wonders to prepare for 5km and 10km
races which require you to run a anaerobic levels over a reasonably
TIP - for runners training for longer races such as marathons, try this
session but at a slower pace and elongate the interval from 5 minutes
to 10 minutes therefore focusing more on endurance.
5) VO2 Max intervals
These sessions aim to improve your maximum oxygen intake. This again
helps to improve your ability to tolerate high lactate levels and your
endurance at speed before fatigue sets in.
These sessions are short but require a large amount of effort due to
Start with a warm up of 10 minutes and then complete a series of 2
minute near maximum effort sprints over a flat terrain. The idea here
is to really push yourself to your limit. Depending on your level and
how much time is available aim for between 3 and 5 intervals with a 2
minute break in between. Once completed finish off with a 10 minute
cool down or even longer if need be.
6) Stride outs
This session can act as your recovery run or a new style session in
itself. The focus of this run is on an easy pace with short bursts of
speed dispersed between. The session should take place on generally
flat ground but if you wish to be nicer to your feet aim for soft
terrain such as grass or a dusty track.
Start as usual with 10 minute warm up then the main body of the session
should include 5 or 6 quick bursts of speed lasting anything up to 30
seconds. Aim to keep a long stride and good form as with tiredness can
come injury. Between each stride give yourself a recovery at a very
slow near walking speed.
This session should be easy but help recovery by loosening up tight
muscles. It is ideal for any distance runner from 5km up to a marathon.
These sessions are a necessary part of a runners training and aim to
focus on all the main ingredients needed for races. They are great as
can be fitted into anyone’s lifestyle (generally 45minutes in
length). However, don't be afraid to adapt any if you feel
you’ve reached your training plateau.
Carter who is a fully trained fitness and life coach. Visit her
website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk
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