Achieving your maximum

It is not just about achieving a specific goal, which may be time related or distance. It is about achieving that goal with as little effort as possible. That is not to say, you will be running 10miles a week and be an elite runner. It is about running what ever is possible for you during your working week but making sure every session is doing what it should. You can run 21km every day and not get any faster. I know people who have done this and could not understand why they were not getting faster, when indeed they were training more than others who were quicker. If you do the right training you will not only get faster but you will get faster, quicker than other runners.

Training Programmes

You can go online and get a training programme and to a certain extent, that will work. You will however plateau and get to a point where you are not getting any faster and wonder why ! A training programme should be written for an individual for all sorts of reasons, we are not all the same you know.

“Better Training for Distance Runners” is a great book or should I say read. The book tries to teach an understanding of how your body performs and reacts to different training methods. A great read but it does not give any examples of training schedules for runners as such. However if you understand the book, you can then write running schedules for yourself. There is no book out there with the right training for you. There are two ways, to get the right programme for you, either have one written for you by a good UKA coach or teach yourself, start with the book above, then read Daniels Running Formula 3rd Edition.


Lets not give up, here are a few tips to get you started. Endurance is of paramount importance, if you are running further than about 300 / 370m. Yes it really is that little ! Just look at a 400m race and see how much they slow over the last 100m.

You improve your endurance in two ways

  • Long runs
  • Interval running

A long run is anything more than 30mins and up to a maximum of ( I believe ) of 2hrs. Why a maximum of 2hrs, because up to 2hrs you get back what you put in, so to speak, after 2hrs you get less back. So a person running for 2.5hrs is gaining very little on you and it takes a lot out of the body to run for 2hrs or more and like I said at the start, it is about doing as little as possible and still winning.

So how fast do we run, when we do a long run, which may be anything from 30mins to 2hrs. Obviously the speed must vary as the distance changes but how do you know it is the right tempo for the best results. Remember this is training, you are not trying to break records every time you go out, you can race every 5 or 6 weeks but make sure you only train between these races. Race every weekend and you will be like all the other runners, you may improve but not as fast as you could. I race every 6 weeks, my next race I have in the diary now.

So this is a very easy rule to remember and you can use this on any long run. First for every 30mins of running deduct 5mins. Example, say you run for 60mins, deduct 10mins. Ok now calculate how far you could run at race pace in 50mins, this is how far you run in 60mins. I calculate at the moment I can run about 13,5km in 50mins, so I run about 13,5km in the hour when training. Sometimes I feel good and run 14km and other times I run 12km. However I can check my heart rate and know how hard I am training, as it should be at a specific rate when I run at 13.5km an hour. If tired it is higher and I run slower, obviously ! but I just try to keep it within a certain range and that is about 13.5km /hour or 128 / 135BPM ( that is my heart rate not yours ) Running with a heart rate monitor

Lets say you want to run a specific distance say 5km or 10km instead of running for a set time. Again a quick calculation will tell you the pace to run. Lets say you want to run 10km and your race time is 40mins,  multiply this by 1.172. This gives 46mins/52secs or 4.41/km. So you have your long run, lets look at intervals, which are a little more complicated.

Interval Training

Interval training is training at a specific pace, resting and then repeating. The distance that you run at pace lets say it is 400m for our example ( it can be between 200m and 2000m ).

So what pace do we do the 400m runs at, well lets keep it simple and say your 5km race pace. ( Why 5km race pace, we will get to that later. ) That is the pace you run at when you do a Park Run, as these are generally 5km in distance. Quick calculation then, lets say you run 5km in 24mins, 24 divided by 5 is 4.8, which equates to 4.48secs per/km. As we need 400m divided this by 2.5, which is 1min 55secs. Lets make it easy to keep a track of the time, take 1min 5secs rest and repeat, so every interval of 400m and rest is 3min. How many, well until tired but not that tired you could not do a couple more, which for many runners is about 15 to 18, I did 16 x 400m tonight but I was tired from two runs yesterday, I was expecting to do 24. Yes I could have done 20 or maybe 24 but then I would not be able to run tomorrow. Only you know how hard you are pushing yourself, listen to your body. You may wish to start at 10 x 400 and add 2 per week.

Specific 5km Training

Preparing a programme for the 5km is a  carefully balanced plan of mileage and intervals  ( or speedwork )

So this programme will have both speed work and long runs. The speedwork will be specific for 5km and for someone who is expecting to run this distance in 24mins.

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6
60min 5km Paced Intervals 90min 3km Paced Intervals REST Start Again

5Km Paced intervals... 5 x 1000m with 2min rest

3km Paced intervals... 4 x 800m with 2min rest, add one per week until 8 x 800m

Any questions...

Well if you read that, you probably have a few questions, please just ask.