When you input your details into The Running Algorithm you will receive an email which tells you to complete a series of training sessions each week and accompanying distances for those sessions. It’s important you understand this email fully to get the most out of your training plan. If you would like a training plan, click here. An example week might be…
Week 3/6: Build
Runs: Long – 11.3km, Tempo – 7.5km, VO2 Reps – 7.5km, Medium – 7.5km, Recovery – 1.9km, Recovery – 1.9km
Tempo Session: WU: 1.5km Tempo: 4.5km CD: 1.5km VO2 Session: WU: 2.3km, 3 x 1km stand recovery, CD: 2.3km
This is for an athlete who is quite prone to injury and running 35km per week at the start of the plan, which might sound like loads or barely anything depending on who’s reading. You’ll also notice this athlete is completing 6 runs per week. I’ll explain each feature of this extract now:
“Week 3/6: Build” – This shows that the athlete has signed up to complete a 6 week training plan, is on the third of those 6 weeks and is in the ‘Build Phase’. The Build Phase is where athletes develop their top end as they get closer to their race.
Each run contains a different goal and it’s important you have this in mind when heading out the door for your run. The order you complete these sessions is up to you and should be done in the order that best suits your personal schedule. We generally try and avoid doing two hard days in a row as this increases the risk of injury.
The aim of the long run is to improve your endurance, this should be completed at ‘Easy Pace’. This refers to a pace that puts your heart rate roughly 65-80% of your max but as a rule of thumb you should be able to talk in full sentences at this pace. It may vary day to day on how fast you actually travel so we tend to judge these on feel and try not to worry about our pace too much.
The aim of the ‘Tempo Run’ is to improve endurance at speed, it helps prevent that pace fade towards the end of a race and is one of the most effective training tools that exists. You should do your warm up and cool down at ‘Easy Pace’ and run the tempo portion of the session at the pace you can sustain for roughly an hour (88-92% of your max heart rate). You should be able to talk in short sentences during these runs and they’ll get harder towards the end of the rep.
The aim of the ‘VO2 Session’ is to increase your ‘VO2max’ which is essentially your top end aerobic power (think your maximum 10-15 minute run effort). This should be a hard session, the warm up and cool down again at ‘Easy Pace’ and the reps should be completed just under your maximum heart rate.
The ‘Medium Run’ should be completed at ‘Easy Pace’ and is designed to increase your aerobic fitness. It’s vital you don’t run this too fast so that you retain as much quality as possible for the harder sessions and your long run.
The aim of the ‘Recovery Run’ is to just get a bit of easy jogging in to aid your recovery from hard sessions. These should be extremely easy. These runs can do wonders for how your legs feel but there is precisely zero benefit in running them too fast. You should aim to keep your heart rate under 70% of its maximum. One of our runners complete their recovery runs just over 2 minutes per km slower than my half marathon pace. This is known as ‘active recovery’ and should be very easy.
If this was us structuring this week we would do it as (assuming the week goes Monday – Sunday and the preceding Sunday was a long run): Recovery Run, VO2 Session, Medium Run, Day Off, Tempo Run, Recovery Run, Long Run. This ordering is not a hard and fast set of rules but in general try and plan your week as the more intense a session is the fresher you want to be going into it.
If you have any more questions about your training plan please do let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be able to get in touch with someone who can help! Enjoy your running.