Training Progression

Without getting into all the extra physiology details, I want to talk about defining my training progression. At risk of sounding like a generic goal setting fluff post I have to point out that having a definitive and measurable goal is the first step. The usual goes in here; a time frame, and an objective end point that gives a pass or fail result. This can be anything like, I want to run sub 5:15 for the Two Bays Trail 56km race on 17th January next year, or be able to run 60km without walking by August 2016. Both those examples give a clear line where you can either claim to have achieved the goal or not. Close is not a pass mark.

In it's simplest form, progression can be basic mathematics. In distance running there are two main ways of making a run harder.
  1. Increase the distance
  2. Increase the speed
For my long run I aim to hold a pace between 5:31 - 6:00/km. I started at a distance of 25km, and progress by adding 5km once I can successfully hold the pace for the full distance. Building up to 50km. Since I am preparing for a 56km race, extending the distance is usually the best method. This run gets pushed out about every 7-9 days.

At the faster end of my training paces I am throwing in some intervals. Starting at 10x400m repeats at a pace between 3:47 - 3:57/km and a 400m recovery at about 5:30/km. To progress I add distance to the repeats, going from 10x400m, to 10x600m, 10x800m and up to 10x1000m, all at the same speed while keeping the recovery at 400m. Once at the 10x1000m I will progress by speeding up the recovery 400m bringing it closer to the pace of the 1000m repeats. This session rears it head about every 16-18 days.

These are just a couple of examples. Of course there are plenty of other training runs that get thrown in the mix. The speeds don't appear excessive, and they certainly are not about running repeats at the fastest I can get out of myself. However, maintaining the paces over entire sessions, especially once the distances get up does get hard. Hopefully it is the right style of hard.

A very important aspect is not to force the progression. The runs have to be challenging, but trying to 40km at a set pace when you can't manage it for 35km just doesn't work out well. It tends to lead to needing too much recovery and the following runs suffer too much. On that note, I may be able to complete a certain run, but if it takes a week to recover from, then it may be too much at my current fitness.

How I choose the pace of my runs is another story.


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