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Is it time to start preparing for a race?

At the moment it’s impossible to say with certainty what restrictions will allow next week, but what about in 16-24 weeks? Well, that’s possibly slightly easier to predict. We can use a number of factors to decide if we want to or should begin preparing for a race. If you’re already decided and you know you want that personal best – CLICK HERE

Firstly, do you want to? It’s the reason we run, train and race. It’s what we like to do – usually. But there’s a lot happening right now in the world and it’s completely normal to want to do different things or not want to do things you normally do. However, if you decide you do want to race then keep reading. 

Are you fit? Having some discomfort or a slight injury is not where you want to start a training block from. You need to be firing on all cylinders and ready to go! Are you? If you’re not, then hold off from starting to train hard, see a physio and focus on that injury. Fast times are run on healthy legs. If you’re ready to race, keep reading! 

How much running have you been doing? There’s no right or wrong answer to how you should or shouldn’t have been training during lockdown. Some people opted to just do lots of easy running, others went full training camp while many also decided to cut back on running or take a break entirely. None of these options mean you can’t race but depending on what you’ve been doing might change the way you want to approach training. 


If you want to race, decided on a lockdown training camp and you’re feeling healthy then you’re ready to go – CLICK HERE. If you’ve cut back on the running then you could start a race specific training plan but to get the most out of yourself we recommend a ‘base builder’ plan first. We have a custom base fitness plan HERE

Whatever you decide to do – train with us by downloading a custom plan! 

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How should I be training right now?

As any military general will tell you, a large base is always important. Well, that’s also quite appropriate for running and it’s where the analogy ends. “Base fitness” or the “base phase” is something you hear quite a lot in the running world but no one ever seems to actually explain what it means. Normally, it refers to your aerobic base which is a key performance indicator for how you’ll race over any given distance. If you want to improve your base fitness with a custom plan designed to do just that, click here!

Right now we are used to seeing the Kenyan athletes dominate over all distances from 800m to the marathon but back in the 1960s it was New Zealand and, oddly enough, pretty much all the athletes that won all the medals had the same coach and were from the same town… Their coach was a revolutionary in distance running, Arthur Lydiard.

Prior to Lydiard’s intervention the majority of distance running training was hundreds (not an exaggeration) of intervals each week with athletes completing more than 50 400m repetitions using heart rate to check for recovery with very little else in the way of ‘base miles’. Now, there were some pretty quick times run with this method of doing intervals 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day but it doesn’t come as recommended practice from us.

Lydiard essentially invented periodisation. The idea that you should train differently based on how long it is until your race and the first step on that ladder is the ‘base building phase’ – where you do lots of long, steady and easy, running in order to focus on building endurance. The idea is that this creates a foundation on top of which you build your fitness with shorter intervals, hill reps and tempo runs. Lydiard’s methods aren’t without criticism but one component of his method remains in place today and that’s the base phase.

This is the phase of training we are in right now, with no big races on the horizon until at least October (here in the UK) now is the perfect time to be improving your aerobic base. If you would like a plan specifically designed to improve your base fitness then click here!

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Benefits of “The Long Run”

Everyone should be doing a long run, most weeks, most of the year. The physiological benefits of running long are huge and provide gains for athletes of all levels. During this article the benefits of a long run will be explained, how to complete a long run will be explained and who should be doing a long run will also be explained – although the answer to that last bit is essentially anyone who races for longer than a minute. All of our custom training plans include a weekly long run alongside a series of other sessions each week to maximise your running potential and help you achieve your goals, if you’d like a custom training plan – click here.

So, what are the benefits to a weekly long run? Well, simply put these are…

  • Increased efficiency
  • Improved running economy
  • Stronger heart
  • Improved endurance
  • Stronger muscles and ligaments
  • Improved confidence

All of these factors will improve your times from 1 mile to 26.2 and beyond, but the way you do your long run should change depending on what distance you’re racing. For distances of 5 and 10k and below the long run should be steady and it’s not really necessary to run more than 2 hours. For half marathon training it’s quite athlete dependent, if you’re a faster athlete you should run up to 2 hours but for beginners or more moderately paced runners then completing a long run of up to and around race distance would be sufficient. This individuality is reflected in our training plans.

It’s clear to us though, anyone wanting to improve their times should be completing a weekly long run as a part of a balanced training week. If you would like to get a custom training plan which includes a weekly long run – click here!

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10k PB Training Diary

One of our cofounders, Tom, back in December ran a PB. He ran 33:09 down from 35:40 and there was 6 months between these races. This is a diary of the main features of training in between these runs. Tom is one of our developers too and writes some of the code that builds your training plans when you sign up, if you want a new PB – click here. This article will analyse the key features of his training during the buildup to this race. Tom is a triathlete so he completes lots of cross training during the course of this block, which is worth remembering if you are a pure runner.

Replicating this training will not get you the same results, if you’d like a fully personalised training plan to get a PB you can get one at app.therunningalgorithm.com/signup.

Tom’s Training Diary

This training block was supposed to start on the 23rd of September 2019 (with the race in early December) but was set back a week due to a big bike crash. Also, early on in this plan I completed 3 gym sessions per week and this was reduced to 1 as my running increased. I didn’t get injured but did get ill twice!

I started easy, the first week had only 29.4km of running, with no intervals and a longest run of 12km at a pace of 5:04/km. I did three gym sessions and completed heavy (for me) deadlifts as the main focus of these gym sessions, as well as a focus on core strength and hamstring flexibility. I completed 4 weeks of running like this (no intervals and lots of gym work), gradually increasing my mileage each week. In the 4th week I ran 37km with a longest run of 11km.

In the 5th week (6 weeks out from race day) I began intervals. I did 2 x 2km repetitions on a hilly cross country loop with my friend. I like to do intervals on a ‘slow’ course as it makes race day feel easier to me. The first repetition was done at 3:20/km pace and the second at 3:23/km. There was only 4km of hard running but it was my first set of intervals for a few months. On the Saturday of that week I also did a 5km time trial in order to see what sort of shape I was in, I completed it in 16:42. I ran 38.7km for that week at an average pace of 5:09/km.

The following week was similar, I did longer repetitions and then a 9km cross country race at the weekend. I ran well at that cross country race and made sure to pace myself conservatively. Overall that week I ran 44.4km.

The week after that I ran 50.5km with my intervals of the week being a 14km run with 3 x 2km of intervals. The pace of these were 3:32/km, 3:25/km and 3:13/km, this was a really good marker of fitness for me. That same week I ran a long run of only 14km at a pace of 5:33/km.

The following week I got ill, unfortunately this is a risk as I was around a busy university campus in November. I did get my interval sessions done this week but my overall volume was reduced to 28km as I had 2 days off training. The main interval session was 1 mile hard, then 4 x 400m. The paces for this run was 4:36 for the mile and the 400m reps were around 60s. My longest run was 15km at an average pace of 4:11/km, this was a bit faster than my usual long run pace.

We are now at the “week before the race”. I did my main interval session this week of 7 x 1km with a total of 50km again. I did a long run of 90 minutes easy too. The times for these km reps were 3:10, 3:11, 3:14, 3:17, 3:21, 3:18, and 3:18 with 60s rest in between. The pacing obviously wasn’t brilliant (it was wind affected) but I feel this workout went well.

Race Week: I cut my volume down to 33km (including race day) with only a few short runs. On Monday I did 5 x 2 mins at 10k race pace. On race day I ran 33:09 which was a massive PB but also quite frustrating as I ran a huge 5k PB in the first half of 15:54 (a 32s PB) and slowed down in the second half. I think I would’ve broken 33 minutes if I had paced it better but I was still very pleased.

This is a testament to how fit you can get in 10 weeks though and by following a sensible structured plan and focussing on consistency massive gains can be made. If you would like a custom training plan to smash a PB click here to grab yours!

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3 Key Half Marathon Sessions

The Half Marathon is a fantastic distance! It’s perfect for beginners providing a challenging but achievable goal and fantastic for more experienced runners as it’s a really tough distance to fully master. As with any race, the key to getting as much out of it as possible is in the training and making sure you get your pacing right! This short article will talk you through 3 key training sessions which will get you through your next Half!

For a fully custom Half Marathon plan to help you smash your next PB created with our computer code click here. Create an account and answer our questions, it takes two minutes and will build you a fully customised plan!

So, what training runs would you complete in order to smash your half marathon PB? Keep reading to find out…

  • The Long Run!

The long run is the the best way to improve your endurance. These runs should be completed at a steady pace and have a number of physiological and mental benefits including strengthening the heart, improving your ability to flush waste from tired muscles and boosting your confidence!

  • The Tempo Run!

A tempo run should also be a weekly feature in your training. It should be run at “a pace you could sustain for roughly 1 hour” which may be half marathon pace, 10 mile pace, 10k pace or 5 mile pace depending on your level. The benefit of a tempo run is that it improves your ability to remove lactate from your muscles while moving fast. This allows you to run at a higher speed without getting tired!

  • The Recovery Run!

A recovery run allows you to recover more effectively in between sessions! Recovering well is just as important as training hard and it’s actually when you improve. Recovery runs should be completed at a very easy pace aiming to keep your heart rate in zone 1. If you do not have a heart rate monitor then just make sure your effort is very easy, perhaps a maximum of 4/10 if 1 is sitting down and 10 is maximal.

There are of course many other types of training sessions in a good Half Marathon training plan and the way the sessions are put together is also very important. Unfortunately, custom training plans written by a coach can be very expensive because they take a long time to write but luckily, we have a solution that is just as good but one tenth of the cost.

Our computer code builds you a fully customised running training plan for just £10! If you want to smash your PB you can get yours by clicking here.

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Is the Half Marathon a Perfect Distance?

The most common question runners get asked is “Have you done a marathon?” or “Are you planning on doing a marathon?” and as a runner who mainly races 5 and 10k this question frustrates me. No one is impressed by my 10k PB (not just because it’s not very good!) because it’s not a marathon. The problem with running a marathon is training for one and racing a marathon takes a lot of commitment, in terms of your running year.

I think the half marathon might be the solution to this (click here for a Half Marathon PB!), you see it’s an achievable distance for all runners and the best part is that our non-running friends know exactly what a half marathon is! They also know it’s pretty hard so are impressed by our achievement… but, what about the running related reasons half marathons are great?

Firstly – the pace is slow enough that it doesn’t hurt immediately. Running a 5k is very uncomfortable for 85-90% of the race, but the first half of a half marathon should feel mainly comfortable, this means you can enjoy the race.

Secondly – you don’t get that horrible last 5 miles like you do in a marathon, sure the end of a half marathon is difficult but it’s not that horrible wall hitting nasty run out of glycogen feeling at the end of a marathon.

Thirdly – the pace isn’t that slow! At least, I’m always surprised how fast ‘half marathon pace’ actually is in comparison to my 10k pace, it makes me feel quite good about myself.

Smashing your half marathon PB is one of the most satisfying things to do in running. If you want a custom half marathon training plan you can get one here.

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How to train in the heat

It’s warm for the UK at the moment and a lot of runners will still want to get out and train! Here’s our top tips for staying as cool as possible and being safe while training in the heat!

  • Drink Lots

It seems so obvious but stay hydrated, we recommend an electrolyte drink before running and bringing water to either carry or hide somewhere along your route if your run is longer than 40 minutes.

  • Run at odd times

It’s cooler in the early mornings and late evenings. Try and avoid running in the middle of the day when it’s really hot!

  • Sleep Well

Sleeping improves our recovery like nothing else and helps our body function properly. This includes thermoregulation and sleeping for at least 8 hours will assist you in keeping cool on your run!

  • Slow Down!!!

Everyone is slower in the heat, it’s ok. Start your run 15s per km (9s per mile) slower than you would on a cooler day. Speed up after 10 or 15 minutes if you’re feeling ok but if you start too fast in the heat, you’ll pay for it!

They are some simple but vital tips to help you train safely and sustainably in the heat! Oh, and remember to wear suncream and a hat! Enjoy your run!

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5 Reasons to back The Running Algorithm

1. Be a part of the future of running

We’re here to cause a big stir in the running world, by making personalised and custom tailored training plans affordable and available to all runners. Your donation now is going to help shape the future of running.

2. Supporting a new business

The early stages of a new business development can be tough. 90% of new start-ups fail in the first year. Your donation will help keep our business growing!

3. The free bottle!

Who doesn’t love a freebie. Donate £10 or more and you’ll receive a free sports water bottle with our logo on it to keep you hydrated while you train!

4. Help spread the word

Your donations at this early stage will also enable us to launch advertising campaigns to attract more runners to our community! More users means more feedback, which helps us improve our custom plans to be even better. Everyone wins!

5. Discounted training

All of our early backers will receive exclusive offers and opportunities in the future, including 10% off our paid training plans for life! Currently The Running Algorithm is a free tool but we will be launching paid versions with a host of cool new features to help take your running to the next level soon!

So click here – https://www.therunningalgorithm.com , scroll down and donate if you want to back a winner, back the future of running then donate and back The Running Algorithm.

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How TRA works

It’s a question that we get asked quite a lot. How does The Running Algorithm work? How is it possible that my training plan can be so customised and perfect to my needs without a ‘real person’ writing it for me?

Firstly, a real person did write your training plan. He taught the computer how to think like a coach. When you get a custom plan off a coach they might ask you a series of questions, these might be…

  • Your weekly volume
  • Your weekly run frequency
  • How injury prone you are
  • How long you’d like your plan to be
  • What distance you race
  • How old you are
  • Your gender or sex
  • How fast you are
  • How long you’ve been running

The coach will take this information and build a custom plan for you based on a combination of this data and that’s exactly what our code does too. It works – so far of runners that have answered our survey 100% of athletes enjoyed using The Running Algorithm and none of them said they wouldn’t use it again!

Custom training plans from coaches really are a fantastic tool for runners, they give your training the kind of structure that can only be achieved through a custom plan but now you can achieve that structure here too! Our plans are just as personalised and structured the same way, the reason ours are so cheap is purely down to the fact that we have automated the process!

So go! Check out the “Plan Builder” and start seeing improvements in your training today!

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Top tips on planning your running week.

Structuring your training pattern each week is a difficult task if you don’t know what to do. The Running Algorithm doesn’t recommend any particular order in which you should do our sessions but rather advise you plan your week with some key principles in mind. This means you can fit your plan in with your own schedule. What use is a training plan that gives you a 15 mile long run on a Sunday if you’re working a 12 hour shift and have your day off on a Tuesday? Here’s our three, simple, guiding principles for structuring your training.

1 – Plan your key sessions first. These include your long run and any interval sessions you have in the plan that week. Space them as equally apart as possible to allow better recovery between these sessions keeping in mind when your hard sessions were the previous week and when you’ll do them the next week. Your long run takes the longest to complete so most people opt to place that on their day-off work. If you work Monday to Friday for example and have a long run, tempo run and VO2 max intervals included in your plan that week you might do the Tempo on a Tuesday, VO2 Max reps on Thursday and a Sunday long run. This pattern can be adjusted but always keep in mind principle number two…

2 – Try and avoid doing two hard days in a row! Running on overly tired legs is more likely to lead to injury. This is one you have to judge yourself. If one week you have to squeeze your sessions in and you feel like you can handle it then it’s a judgement call but don’t get into the habit of scheduling hard sessions on back to back days.

3 – Be flexible, sometimes you have to swap sessions round or cancel them at late notice for whatever reason. Keep a positive mindset and know that missing one session won’t lead to a bad outcome. Running rewards consistency over long periods of time and being adaptable in your plan is an excellent way to achieve this. There’s nothing magic about doing your track sessions on a Tuesday night, you can train on other days too.

Keep these principles in mind when planning your week, if you have questions about your plan, need running advice or want to contribute content to our website please do get in touch by emailing contact@therunningalgorithm.com. Check out our “Plan Builder” page for a fully automated custom training plan.