Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making the Transition Part 1

So - you've taken up this running lark. You're running a few times a week and you're realising that actually you're not half bad at it! For a bloke you're probably running something around 45 minutes for 10k and for a lady maybe just under 50 minutes (times set for individuals 18-40 in good health generally). You've joined a running club and done a few race. There's a lot at your level and a fair stream of guys up to the local "club elite" who run 36-40 minutes for 10k and usually finish in the top 10 at the local races.

The aim of this series is to explain to the average club runner how to take the steps to not only be running the same sort of times as those "club elite" but to do so in a way that you will be able to out-race a runner of similar ability. More importantly- you'll have a foundation that could seriously take you down to being a sub 35 10k guy. The difference you'll have is that not only will you be running at the level of the 36-40 minute 10k guys - you'll do it in less time and with much more upside.

Step 1: Run more often. Run slower. Run shorter.

The first part is fairly self explanatory as to how it helps but the other two may well be counter-intuitive. The first step in becoming a serious runner is to run more frequently. Ideally you want to look at building up from a few runs a week to running every day but there is nothing wrong with doing this over the course of a fair few months. Most progress to it naturally when they realise they want to get better or more likely start training for a marathon and hit a serious training plan for the first time. Ideally you want to be running at least once a day, 6 days a week, and more likely in the long-run then you want to be hitting two runs a day. For right now in making that first step into being a sub 40 10k guy then just running once a day is likely to be more than enough.

The second part is controversial. Most would assume that if you want to run faster you need to run every run faster. This is dead wrong. One of your first steps has to be slowing down your runs so that you can get an awful lot more time on your feet and more importantly make it a very positive experience. Whilst we can all go out and slog our bodies and actually find it quite enjoyable it's still a tough experience. Maybe tomorrow you'll have a bad day at work or the weather won't be as nice- still fancy going out and working hard? By making it slower you help yourself enjoy the run much more and it becomes a really positive part of your day.

Running shorter is perhaps slightly misleading. For lots of people though running a few times a week they try and get the absolute most out of those runs. Stop it. If you're committed to this then you want to be doing much more frequent runs of a shorter length. I'd opt for someone running 40 minutes a day 6 days a week more than someone running 120 minutes twice a week. I'd say that running 60 minutes per day is a very good level to reach but I'd much rather people ran 30 minutes every day than a huge amount at the weekends. Less than about 25 minutes and you'd be better off doing 30 minutes for 5 days though.

Of course you obviously don't want to just run the same 30-60 minute run every day! Which leads to the next step which is how to start structuring your week and adding in some different elements.

+Aim to build up to running 6 times a week with the runs ranging from 30-60 minutes.
+Accomplish this by slowing your runs down and really just enjoying it. At this stage pace is irrelevant.
+Once you've done this for two weeks then move onto the next step.

Right - that's it for now. Catch you on the trails.


Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks, your training articles are really helpful. Found you blog after searching for how to improve my 1500m time as i'm 14, and found a thread that you'd commented on on the runner's world website. It was the first piece of really useful advice that I found (although it was from a very long time ago). Thanks again!

Bryn R said...

Happy to help - at your age you've got so much room to improve. Don't let the olds ones get you down - run as much as you can and have fun with it and you'll be fine.

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.