Aim: build running strength by increasing mileage
New year is always a good time to set your goals for the year ahead: run a 5k, complete a marathon, get that cat 2/3 bike licence or prepare for a triathlon.
I toyed with focusing purely on cycling but I am (un)fortunately ok at running so it seems a shame to give it up just yet. And, judging by the strength of the local cycling teams, I’ll probably get more success in duathlon or triathlon. I’ll still do some bike races and depending on how that goes, well…
After a fair bit of head scratching (and some strong err, “encouragement” from the cycling lads over at FTR to ditch swimming and running 😳), I decided one of my aims is to run a 35 minute 10k, basically before I get too old and lose whatever fast twitch muscles I’ve got left. My PB is just under 37 minutes, so that is a massive mountain to climb and at my rate of improvement and juggling of cycling and swimming too, it might take a couple of years.
My running has always been alright but nothing exceptional and hasn’t really improved for a year or so. I’ve also not concentrated on it for a couple of years and just sort of kept it ticking along. It’s been nagging me that I haven’t quite achieved my potential. Plus, I figured that if I can really knuckle down and knock off a couple of minutes in the next 12 months that will move me up from finishing in the top ten of triathlon and duathlon races to the top three… or better!
I’ve also got the European duathlon championships in Spain at the end of April where I’m representing Great Britain in the 35 to 39 year old age group, so that’s an extra bit of motivation!
Rule 1: increase mileage
Putting together a training programme, the first thing I tried to do was increase the mileage. In endurance sport (at an amateur level anyway), the first rule is that if you run/cycle/swim more then you will get faster. Unless you’re training more than 20 hours a week, that rule will pay off.
Rule 2: don’t get injured
The second rule of endurance sport is: don’t get injured. Increasing mileage obviously puts a greater strain on your body. So it’s important to increase the volume steadily and to knock off the pace for some of those miles too. Training gently takes incredible discipline!
If you’re also looking to build your mileage and speed then you might want to consider one of these options to ensure you get a good workout and you have time to recover properly:
Scenario 1: training twice a week for one hour: two hard sessions gives 3 to 4 days recovery in between.
Scenario 2: training four times a week for one hour: two hard sessions with two easy sessions gives 3 to 4 days recovery in between your intense sessions with a gentle bit of training to remind the muscles not to go to sleep.
Set a goal
I set myself a goal of running 50km a week. Included in that is a brick session (a hard run immediately after a bike ride) and a speed session, such as intervals on a track. The rest is a mixture of easy runs and the odd short race. I’ll also cycle twice a week at a hard pace and maybe spend an hour on the turbo trainer. If I can fit it in then I’ll swim once or twice.
And the results? Well, so far it’s a fairly decent start to the year with lots of runs at easy pace, three bricks, two intervals sessions, a parkrun and cross country race. I also managed a few pacelines (fast cycling in a group) and the odd century ride (100 miles+).
I did feel very tired at one point and so took it a bit steadier and had some rest days until I got my mojo back. It’s only going to get tougher but an injury would set me back more than a few days off.
Kms run: 234
Time spent running: 19 hours 36 minutes
Until next time: just keep going.