With running season soon approaching, we recently mapped out part 1 of our 12-week race preparation plan. Spoiler alert - if you haven't been following, start from the plan for week 1 (which is the base phase where you build your endurance and prepare for harder workouts) then follow through with this schedule.
This plan works on the race phase, which is where you get used to running at your goal race pace.
|5||Rest||5km run||11km run||Rest||7km run||15km run||1hr cross-training|
|6||Rest||7km run||11km run||Rest||7km run||20km run||1hr cross-training|
|7||Rest||7km run||13km run||Rest||9km run||20km run||1hr cross-training|
|8||Rest||7km run||15km run||Rest||9km run||23km run||1hr cross-training|
It's worth noting that each individual's level of fitness varies, so use this formula just as a guide and tailor it to suit your needs.
The main priority for this stage is to gradually but steadily increase your running distance.
In order to do that, this stage intensifies stage 1 by adding a layer of speed, in addition to introducing steady runs (running in a sustained effort at your threshold pace) and long run surges.
The race phase plan is designed to strengthen your muscles, connective tissues and ligaments, preparing your body for the demands of race running. They also fine-tune your run pace by further activating fast-twitch muscle fibres and improving the efficiency of how your body uses oxygen.
Keep most of your runs to a steady pace, hovering between medium to high efforts so that you facilitate the development of your aerobic strength and challenge yourself to run at the higher-end of your aerobic threshold.
Steady runs ensure that you aren't too tired to run the next day and simulate running longer distances without having to run the full distance.
In addition, include into your longer runs fast finish long runs, which is where you drop your pace for a moment (mimicking what happens during exhaustion) at the 3/4 point of your run. This helps you to psychologically deal with late race exhaustion by training your body to pick up the pace again when your legs are ready to stop, resulting in faster finishes.
As for your shorter training runs during this period, include long run surges - which are a series of faster paced sprints inserted into the middle of your run. We suggest surging for anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 mins. Long run surges encourage you to run faster when in fatigue and increase the overall quality and pace of your run.
Leave one day for exercise that helps you with recovery (Sundays are best for this); we suggest cross-training exercises such as cycling, swimming, or circuit training and emphasising exercises that work out your key running muscles such as your calves, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Rest days in between your training are also absolutely vital for muscle regeneration and injury prevention so use them to the fullest!
Look out for the last of the three-part plan (which is the taper phase, where you run at reduced distances just before the race but with enough intensity for race day) out next month.