We generally train together 3 times per week: a faster run, a steady run, and a long run (mid-week an Sat/Sun).
It’s important to use the sessions in a way that suits your current fitness level, injury situation an experience.
Most of our sessions are designed to be flexible so that you can run them at a pace and a duration that fits you. So the onus is very much on the individual – you need to be a bit selfish and do the run in a way that is right for you.
The more people we have out on any given day, the more likely there is something who fits with exactly your pace.
How many of the group runs should I do?
It’s tempting to do them all especially if you prefer running with company. However, group runs can sometimes get more competitive than when you train alone or you can get ‘dragged in’ with faster runners pace. So it’s important to do only as much with the group as your overall training can support.
I generally recommend doing only 1 of the faster runs (mid-week an Saturday) if you are running 5 days or less per week. If you run 6 or 7 days per week you can do both. Those running 5 days or less who want to run with the group for both faster runs should adjust their effort.
How do I avoid injury?
There are many reasons people get injured. The greatest cause is previous injury history. But in terms of training the things to avoid is:
- Changing your volume too fast
- Changing the amount of fast work too fast
- Adding too high volume of fast work too quickly
- Adding too many hills to your runs too soon
- Not doing enough easy running / running your easy runs too fast
In other words: any abrupt change puts you at high risk of injury. Steady she goes.
‘Easy’ running is your main instrument of protection against injury. It gives you a strong aerobic system and helps your build the resilience in muscles, bones and tendons that protect you when you run faster. The more easy running you do the more of the steady and hard work you can handle.
Keep in mind it takes 6-12 weeks for ‘easy’ training to have a protective effect. So during this period you must be extra careful. There no such thing as running too slow in the early days.
How much easy running should I do?
The general recommendation is 80/20 which means if you do 4 easy runs, you can do 1 faster. However, if one of the faster runs is ‘steady’ (not hard) it’s generally ok to do 4 easy runs, 1 steady an 1 harder. In terms of overall volume about 90% of the minutes you run should be ‘easy’ (in what is called zone 1 or zone 2 where breathing is very easy) and the remaining 10% of your weekly minutes should be steady or hard (zone 3, zone 4 and zone 5 type running where the breathing gets progressively more noticeable).
What sort of long run is appropriate for me on Sundays?
Our standard long runs are 15 to 16 km and take people 80-105 minutes to run generally. Long-term it’s good to aim for 2 hours as that is where the ‘magic happens’. A common mistake when building up is to ‘cram too much’ into the long run and not doing enough during the week. This then means that the long run becomes much too big a stressor for the body.
The ideal relationship is that your long run is about 20-25% of your weekly volume (30% at an absolute stretch). If you are already use to the 15-16 km (or longer) you obviously don’t need to reduce this as you are already used to it.
How do you shorten /lengthen the long runs?
Some people meet up a bit earlier than the main time (9 am) to do 20-30 minutes before the run. Slower runners will also often set off early so the group ‘catches’ them later.
How should I prepare for the hill runs?
Be sure you know the terrain an pick the appropriate footwear. For the rougher long runs over open ground bring a bag with a jacket, snack, and gloves and hat (especially in Winter) just as a contingency in the case you sprain an ankle or similar while far from the next road. Finally, have a look at the elevation for the run and ensure it’s not too far off what you can currently handle. Some of our hill runs have shorter versions where you can ‘skip out’ once you are done.
How do I make the best out of the speed sessions mid-week?
The key is to listen to your own internal effort and not be carried away by the pace of others. If you try to match a runner who is significantly faster than yourself then the workout will become much harder than intended for you. We always do 1 hour or 10 km minimum – so you need to be able to easily run this easy before attending these workouts.
If you are injured or running quite low volume, this is a session to approach with care. If you really want to come out but cannot yet handle hard training simply jog along and watch the session – encourage the people doing the faster work!
Over the winter we focus on Fartlek, short sprints, and slow steady uphill work to try and build strength for the season ahead. If in doubt this is the session to miss.
In a hard workout you need to stop when YOU are done. Sometimes you will be ‘finished’ when there is still another repeat to go. Don’t struggle through the last one if you have nothing left or if your muscles are giving you trouble – just jog and wait for the rest of the group to finish.
The old saying goes: ‘Train to failure, train to fail’.
Always stop fast work if there is any sign of excessive hamstring tightness: especially sprint work!
How do I approach the Saturday sessions?
It depends on your fitness level. These runs are designed so that you can run them at any pace. If you are returning from injury or doing 5 runs or less then it is generally a good idea to do these runs at lower efforts (1/8, ¼ and ½ effort). If your overall volume is not yet very high, it’s a good idea to ‘ease in’ by running the shorter courses (you can always add more easy running as warmup or cooldown if the short course itself is a bit too short for you).
Once you can handle the courses at an easy to moderate pace without any issues then you can slowly increase the effort. This is particularly useful when you are getting close to races.
It’s not advised to do more than 4-5 weeks in a row of steady runs at 3/4 effort or above.
It’s very easy to get carried away and competitive in these events – again I advise you to BE SELFISH and do what is right for you.
How do I maximise my recovery after each run?
First of all look after yourself in general: keep mobile, get some quality sleep, and keep your eating relatively clean and stress low. But in terms of training the key is to do a decent warmup and at least 10 minutes easy running at the end of each workout. This will greatly improve your recovery for the run the next day. Hydrate well before and after as dehydrated tissues are very prone to injury. After long and hard sessions, eat most of your daily carbohydrates in the post-run meals. During this window you can eat food that are normally unhealthy: such a quick releasing sugars. This will make a big difference to how ‘alive’ your legs feel within 24 hours of the run.
Finally, listen to your body ahead of a workout. If you are excessively stiff then you need to ease carefully into faster runs. If that doesn’t make it better ‘can’ the session and just run easy or call it a day. Some days it just won’t happen the way it says on your plan. You are better off ‘checking out’ then rather than persisting.
You should NEVER run with a limp! If you have a limp – spend a few days mobilising and working on the sore muscles or get some hands-on therapy and then ease back with a few short easy jogs until your gait feels normal again.
How do I know the training is ‘right’ for me?
You can judge it by how you feel the day after. After easy runs you should be feeling pretty normal the next day – minimal soreness, tiredness and muscle stiffness. Steady runs should leave a bit of tiredness the next day but nothing major. After hard runs your legs can be heavy for 2 days ideally. If it drags into 3-4 days after then the session was run too hard. That means next time you need to take it a bit easier.
It’s about ‘training, not straining’ – you should shake off the negative effects of most runs within 24-48 hours. That will allow you to consistently build yourself up and it’s this consistency that will eventually build the results: not any of our individual runs in isolation.