It Goes A Little Something Like This

About eight weeks (8 day version) is what I have to get up to standard. Two months is another way of looking at it. What's involved?

Of course I need to clarify exactly what I'm training for. First up is the 10km Cross Country. A course that is a mixture of mainly flat bike path plus a couple of hills, with some thick and slow going grass. I feel the course runs nearly 2 minutes slow. Here I need to be in 37 minute 10km form (38-39min on this course). To do that I require a mix of fast flat speed and good strength. The cross country is backed up a week later with the half marathon. An absolutely flat circuit around Lake Wendouree. Based on previous years I need to be around 1:22 shape to be with a chance of top spot. I'm setting my sights on cracking the race's overall best time of 1:19:59.

Then it's two weeks before the M2M. Here I have 19km of very steep, hilly dirt and fire trail for leg one. Then maybe under 3 hours later the relay comes back to me for a fairly flat 14km on gravel path. An interesting mix of attributes will be needed here. Only another week and I hit the 13.2km of the Great Train Race. Hills, and some more hills. Simple goal here, go faster than before.

To hit all those goals I need:

  • High anaerobic threshold speed and extended ability to hold it
  • Relative speed uphill without excessive accumulation of fatigue
  • Sound and sustainable technique over variety of terrain
  • Ability to push the speed up in latter stages of a race despite increasing fatigue
  • Good recovery ability within a race, short term and weekly


An almost arbitrary list. It's importance is more apparent when you think about what isn't included:

  • High VO2max
  • Lactate/acidosis tolerance
  • Maximal speed/sprint ability
  • Extensive endurance, efficient lipolysis

It's all about priorities. You can't be good at everything, and trying to do so will mean I'm likely to miss the mark across the board. A good dose of variety is still required in the attributes and training modalities. Just that more attention is placed on what is required for these races, while touching only a little on the other elements. Many elements cross over and are reliant on development across the board. For example, training the ability to push in the latter stages of a race will to some degree cover VO2max and acidosis tolerance.



The training plan is a combination of targeted progression and specificity supported by a few extras. Details outlined in last November's post: Training Plan Into 2013, still apply. This is where the specificity starts coming in. Each 8-day week will usually see two key sessions. All other training is about supporting those key runs, whether that be through enhancing recovery, increasing the base training load or training a different attribute. First of the key sessions is the all important long run. Most of the time I'll alternate between two different long runs. One will a 3 hour cruise over rough trails. Not too concerned with pace on this one. The goal is to tackle as much variety, hills, single track, stupid descents and anything else I can run over. It may not go directly to improving individual race performance, but provides a large supporting role.

The other long run is where the majority of magic happens. Here the speed matters. Occurring about every two weeks the progression is 23-25km at an average pace of 5:04/km for the hit out. This then progresses down to 4:17/km as the races get closer. If everything goes exceptionally well, I hope to get under 4:17/km or extend the distance further. These runs will become tough, requiring warm ups and cool downs, plus recovery leading in and afterwards are extremely important.

If the long runs can be considered as attacking the race from underneath, the other key session would be thought of as attacking from above. For want of a better term, I've marked this session with AnT on the training. This is in reference to the anaerobic threshold, but in the session really goes beyond that. The point of this run is to build the amount of running around race pace in an interval set. Mostly the run intervals are around 3:42/km pace, I aim to build from 5x1000m to 7x2000m worth intervals with 1000m of recovery running in between. Most of these runs will be mainly flat ground or even at an athletics track. The pace of the recovery will start out at as an easy jog, I'll still aim for good form, so will be quicker than a shuffle. Initially it is about getting the volume up at around race pace. If I reach the 7x2000m in short time frame, then progression will come in the form of raising the recovery speed. Such as from an initial 5:30/km to something close to 4:30/km or even quicker if I make some big leaps. Similar to the long runs, this run won't be the same each week. Instead it will be interspersed with another fast style run in whatever form I believe will get the me better prepared for the next 3:42/km round of intervals. At this stage, I envisage this as a series of hill repeats of at least 2-3 minutes duration, will a quick run down as recovery. That should also address a lot of the hill speed I need to develop.

Wait, there's more.

Two hard runs out of every eight days? Kind of. I like simple, but too simple becomes boring, and doesn't quite cover everything. So what else gets thrown in? One run I'm starting to enjoy, but traditionally drop is the so-called speed session. For me now, that is a short, but very steep series of 8-15 hill sprints taking 8-10 seconds at the highest effort I can achieve, with something like 2 minutes of easy jogging in between. The effort must be maximal, which is much easier said than done. I am not a sprinter, at so far there is a clear lack of neuromuscular efficiency or lack of full muscle recruitment. This is slowly changing. The biggest benefits I am noticing is enhance strength in the tendons, and improved ability to maintain good form, full drive and toe off, less fatigue in the other runs in my quads and hip flexors. Maybe it will even develop a little bit of extra speed when I need it later. This is roughly a weekly session, even occurring about every 6 days. It may be replaced, with a more gentle collection of drills and springing uphill to work on other elements of technique.

Pretty much every other run gets labelled with easy in the training diary. In reality this is a very big range of runs. From an a slow (6:30-7:00/km) recovery dawdle after a hard key run, to 15km over some a few hills feeling comfortable, but hitting an average speed of 5:06/km. If I am tired and sore, then the emphasis is further the recovery end of the scale. If there is a day or so until the next key run and I am feeling great, then the run becomes a little more difficult. I am a believer in keeping the overall volume of training up for long term gains. These mix of easy runs are important to achieving that. Of course, life, work and sleep requirements can hit the unexpected and I will drop the occasional easy run. A night shift of work cracking 16 hours over draws the sleep debt by a long way.


Beyond just a running, will be a small, but hopefully consistent amount of strength/weight training. Mainly about dealing with muscle imbalances and the other requirements for strength that running doesn't develop. On the plan are maybe three other key runs spaced over the three months. Two of these are likely to be double runs to get an idea of what I need to work on for the Marysville to Melbourne runs, spaced close together. These will probably be a initially series of hill repeats followed up by a flattish time trial 3 hours later. The third will likely be a 10km run to test out how my development is going.

This may be a wordy, and somewhat complicated explanation of an otherwise simple plan. So in an attempt to clarify, I'll summarise in point form:

  • My version of week is 8 days
  • 2 key runs:
    • 1 long
    • 1 intervals around race pace
  • Long run alternates between 3 hour on trails, with 23-25km at set speed faster each time
  • Intervals progress with distance of fast pace, then increase recovery pace
  • Hill repeats are included
  • Near weekly hill sprints or drills for speed and technique
  • All other runs vary between recovery to easy but moderate volume efforts
  • Recovery is important
  • Being able to perform the key sessions at required standard is paramount
Now the fun is in the work.

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