After last weeks cross country my training has gone very well and I am now looking forward to more muddy mayhem as the cross country season unfolds. Two big sessions for me this week with a 3 x 2 mile track session on Thursday followed by a decent tempo effort on Saturday.
In both sessions the name of the game was consistency. In the 3 x 2 mile I set a target pace of 5.30 per mile or 11 mins for the two miles. 10.53, 10.49 and 10.53 were the three times recorded for the two mile efforts. More than happy with that session which although was a tough one showed the kind of strength and consistency that I have been looking for - especially as I had to dig a bit deep on the last effort.
The tempo on Saturday was at the end of a good training week where I managed to log 60 miles in total - probably one of my best weeks of the year for training. The tempo was over a course of almost four miles and again showed good consistency with miles of 5.37, 5.33, 5.36 and 5.32. What was more pleasing was how it felt as it actually felt like a tempo effort and not a race type effort....things must be going in the right direction! Definitely needed a couple of easier days after those two sessions.
A good article recently in Athletics Weekly offered 6 tips to improve winter running....
1. Consistency - planning your training, incorporating rest days and a constant reliable programme. My week usually involves some staple stuff like a longer run, a tempo type session and an interval based session.
2. Periodisation - structuring your training and working in different phases as part of an overall master plan. This sort of planning takes a bit of time and sometimes means looking at the type of training you do and the races you are working towards. Each run should have a purpose and be part of an overall master plan. For example a 12 week block of training towards a 10km race could involve a 6 week block of higher mileage, longer reps and tempos as you build up a good level of endurance. This could be followed by a four week phase of reduced mileage, faster intervals and race pace tempo runs followed by a shorter period of sharpening and tapering as race day approaches. On the bigger plan you could be looking at winter endurance, some spring races, aerobic conditioning, summer racing and autumn recovery phase before entering the cross country and winter period.
3. Time trials or tempos - working at a high intensity at a pace that produces an elevated, steady state accumulation of lactic acid - this is often up to 80/85% of VO2 max - (or "comfortably hard!). They can be anything from 3km up to 10km type efforts. Once a week for this type of effort works well.
4. Resistance work - either in the gym or using resistance sessions while running such as uphill running - incorporating some form of resistance training has shown to be beneficial to runners - resistance training improves leg strength, relaxes the upper body and can make us less prone to injuries - all of which can help to make us faster!
5. Alternative training - the article mentions deep water running which I find excellent for a bit of recovery session. Jump in the deep end of the swimming pool with or without a flotation belt (I prefer not to use one!) and start running! Simple!
6. Rest and Recovery - could be non running days, getting extra sleep, eating the right foods, getting regular massages or even just doing a few sessions of easy on grass. All counts. I will often run easy and early one day and then run again the following evening. 24 hours non running with a sleep makes such a difference but allows the daily run to be enjoyed.
I generally agreed with the article and found it really useful and thought provoking. Here is my top 6 tips "school report!
Consistency - Good effort with a well structured and consistent training programme: A-
Periodisation - Good use of this and often plans ahead: A-
Time Trials - Regular and consistent: Well done A+
Resistance Training - Could do a lot better...is easily distracted and avoids the gym unless injured - D-
Deep Water Running/Alternative Training - Often gets the bermuda shorts on but could do better - B-
Rest/Recovery - could probably sleep more, good use of massage and has plenty of recovery tricks on the go : B+
Finally please take the time to sign the online petition about the proposed track closure of Clairville Track operated by Middlesbrough Council. It will be a tragedy for local athletics to lose this facility. It only takes a short time to register and sign the petition.