Thursday, 29 May 2014

Understanding Key Training Sessions

Rob sent me this a while ago, quite interesting to see that most of the trainings I was doing by myself were simples Steady Runs which I wasn’t really taking much out of it.

Long Runs
The long run is an important element of training but we often get obsessed with it, especially when training for a marathon. At first simply concentrate on increasing the time you spend on your feet rather than worrying about the pace or distance. The key is working at a conversational pace that is a perceived effort level of 6.5-7 out of 10 (65-70% of range of your Maximum Heart Rate - MHR). This may be a brisk walk, a run/walk or a run depending on your current fitness and level of experience. These runs improve your muscular endurance, running efficiency and your ability to burn fat as its primary fuel source.

Threshold Runs
Threshold sessions are one of your most valuable workouts but they do require some effort. They are run at level of ‘controlled discomfort’ that is a perceived effort level of 8-8.5 out of 10 (80-85% of MHR). At this level you are only capable of uttering 4 or 5 words to your training partners. You will find that these sessions require concentration, but they will greatly improve your speed endurance.

Kenyan Hills
Hill running of all types develops the strength in your leg muscles and tendons without putting them under the type of stress they are exposed to during faster running. Run up a 7-10% gradient for 30 seconds to two minutes at a solid steady pace. Turn immediately at the top and roll down the hill at a relaxed pace, then turn and repeat without any recovery. Keith Anderson discovered this type of hill session when he trained in Kenya with some top elite Kenyan athletes – so that’s whey we call them ‘Kenyan Hills’. They are one of the Kenyan’s main conditioning sessions. Like a Threshold run, during a Kenya Hill session you should be working at about 8–8.5 out of 10 and be able to utter about 4 or 5 words.

This is a Swedish term that literally means “speed play”. It involves a number of bursts of effort over a variety of distances with a variable recovery. Originally the length of effort was based on the terrain, for example, pushing harder every time you came to a climb, no matter how long it was. But you can adapt it for your needs. This is a great way of introducing some faster work into your training.

Interval Training
Interval training allows you to practice specific race pace speed and involves running timed efforts with a controlled timed recovery. The perceived effort level is 9–9.5 out of 10 (90-95% of MHR) and this is where you can only utter a couple of words at most.

Steady Runs
Steady running is carried out a perceived effort level of 7.5-8 out of 10 (75-80% MHR) and is running at a level of some discomfort. A lot of runners do most of their running at this level because they feel they are working but, in reality, it is not focused enough to be of real benefit and neither is it easy enough to be recovery. The result is no man’s land! We do however occasionally use this level of training when trying to develop your training towards Threshold effort or increase the general workload within the training plan.

Marathon Pace Practice
Understanding the pace you are able to run your marathon is very important. Pace judgment is crucial to running your best marathon. Marathon Pace Practice is about 7.8 out of 10 (78% of MHR) and allows your body and mind to get used to what will be required on the big day.

Warming Up
When you are going to do any faster running, such as Hills, Threshold Runs, Intervals or a race, it is important to warm up gradually. A 10-15 minute jog allows your muscles to gradually warm up and improve their range of movement. It also allows your cardiovascular system to prepare for the harder work to be carried out.

Cooling Down
A period of at least 10-15 minutes easy jogging and light stretching allows your body to adjust back to a steady state. Cooling down stops blood pooling in your legs and helps remove some of the waste products, such as lactic acid, from the muscle cells, which helps to avoid undue muscle soreness.

Recovery Run
Training for endurance requires your body to work hard but to see improvement, this has to be done without you getting ill or injured. You therefore need some recovery runs and these should be run at a very easy and relaxed effort. You should be breathing easily and be capable of holding a conversation throughout the run and your effort level should be at around 6-6.5 out of 10 (60–65% MHR) and your run should be no more than 45 minutes in duration. This allows your body to adapt to the training workload and therefore improve. It also helps with the removal of the waste products, which accumulate in your muscles after harder efforts.

It is important that your training is balanced with some non-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, rowing, aerobics, etc, otherwise you are more likely to pick up an injury that will set back your training. But more experienced runners should also add cross training to their regime. Endurance running, especially the marathon, requires whole body-conditioning. To achieve this you should aim to work a variety of muscle groups and not just your legs. Remember that you are a runner and your cross-training should compliment your running and not be so intense that you are left too tired for your running sessions.

To help your body cope with the workload, rest is going to be as important a part of your training schedule as the running. Listen to your body and take heed of any warning signs. If you feel fatigued even before you’ve run a step, find yourself thinking up excuses not to run or start suffering a series of minor injuries, you probably need more time off. Taking enough rest allows physical and mental recovery and gives your body the time to adapt to your workload. Remember: on rest days, that is exactly what you should be doing!

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