Thursday, 9 August 2012

Stopping for a Breather

Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, August 09, 2012 with No comments
Just saying: if you are a regular competitor in the Vets monthly handicaps, running long distances in training is not enough. Interval training is essential if times are to improve.

Structured training sessions in a group keep you honest. If you try running intervals by yourself, it is sometimes easy to slacken off towards the end of the session. Your breaks between intervals become longer as you start getting tired. This is cheating! It can be avoided if we design our training sessions slightly differently. The idea is to design sessions around times and not just around distances.

Examples of sessions designed around distances:
  • 12 x 200m with 200m recovery
  • 10 x 300m with 100m jog recovery
  • 5 x 1k with 600m recovery
While these are all great sessions, and in a group runners can encourage each other to complete their recoveries reasonably quickly, there is still a tendency to postpone getting started on the next interval as you begin to tire. So the following is better:

Examples of sessions designed around time:
  • 12 x 60 seconds fast, 60 seconds slow
  • 20 x 120m hill, starting at the base each 90 seconds, jogging back down
  • 12 x 400m on 2 minutes (i.e. starting every 2 minutes)
These sessions limit recovery time and are more challenging to complete. If a runner really fatigues they can drop out for one repetition and let the group continue on, joining in again after a rest.

An even better way to keep training honest is with the continuous relay. Two or three person teams work well, especially when designed so that runners still have some distance to cover in between efforts, to get to where they will take over again. Example of continuous relays which can be run on the track:
  • Teams of two: 300m hard, 100m recovery
  • Teams of three: 400m hard, 400m recovery
  • Teams of four: 200m hard, 200m (+) recovery
Such sessions are great fun, especially when large numbers turn up to train. And you can mix it up by having some in teams of three and some in teams of four for example, so that everyone participates. It is useful though to have one or two reserves on hand who can substitute if needed. Try to arrange it so that runners in a team are of similar standard to each other. That way, recovery times for any individual won’t be too long or too short.

In the training sessions I organise, people come out of them saying “I would never have run that by myself”. That’s the whole idea. So come along, Mondays or Thursdays, and join in, we have plenty of fun, our sessions are inclusive and cater for everyone, and we work hard too. And we will always run relays whenever there are enough people there to make up a few teams.


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