Many of us are guilty of signing up to a race and putting a time on it, but not thinking about the bigger picture. We set big goals but we don't actually give ourselves enough time to train and get into our best shape. We put ourselves under pressure to get a PB, chase a time, or try to keep up with our friends. The great thing about running is its accessibility. With Parkrun on every weekend and plenty of races around the country, we can always find a start line, but is short-term excitement the best way to reach your potential?
Patience is not a quality that many runners possess (me included!). We want results and we want them fast. But what happens if you do take the time? Plan out your races one or two years in advance. Set big goals but give yourself enough time to get here.
The mantra 'Consistency is Key' is actually really key. If you want to reach your potential we would advise taking your time and then adding a buffer on to that! We shouldn't expect training to go perfectly each week, whether it is a niggle, tiredness from work, holidays and general life plans, it is best to give yourself some wiggle room.
But how do you train for this long term goal? Luckily your Runna plan will do this all for you but here is how we plan your training behind the scenes.
We would advise a period of base training before you start your key training block. Base training is where you will build your foundation. A strong base will ensure you are robust and ready to cope with the training demands in the key block.
The base training phase focuses on building your volume so you can start your key block at a decent starting mileage. Your training plan with Runna will be tailored to your experience and ability, but if you factor in more time, we can work on building that volume over time.
During this phase, we would also advise a minimum of 2 strength sessions a week (3 would be great). If this means dropping a run, that is fine by us! If you prioritise gym work, then you'll increase your strength, improve on weaknesses and build a strong foundation for starting the key phase. This is essential for consistency as it will help reduce your chance of picking up niggles when the training really matters.
It is important to pace yourself, which is why a period of less training (base training) is important. If we continued to ramp up our volume and train hard all year round, we are susceptible to injury or overtraining.
The Key Training Block
The key block is where you will build your fitness. The interval and tempo sessions will challenge you a bit more and the volume of these sessions will increase week on week.
The key block should be between 8 and 20 weeks depending on your goals, ability, race distance and how much time you've given yourself to prepare. Here is the optimal amount of time in the key block for each race distance.
5-10k Race: 8-10 weeks
11k-Half Marathon: 10-12 weeks
22k-Marathon: 14-16 weeks
+43k: 16-20 weeks
For example, if you have 24 weeks to train for your marathon, then we would plan a 8 weeks of training followed by a key block of 16 weeks. Or if you have 10 weeks to train for your 5k, we would plan 2 weeks of base training to ease you in and find our rhythm, followed by 8 weeks in a key training block.
It is important to note that training adaptations are individual and we understand that everyone has different time constraints. If you are pressed for time then don't fret, great results can still be achieved!
The Training Plan
If you are striving for a PB or it is your first time racing this distance, we would advise starting your training as early as you can. However, we totally understand that long term planning isn't always possible, so whatever your focus or timeline, we have a Runna plan for you!