Training For The 'Right' Distance

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27/10/2010 at 17:46

Tricky - I think I remember reading somewhere else that you had a good one, but this is the first time I've seen it in B&W that you cracked the sub-3, so CONGRATS!!

From what you've said, you are at a similar stage to me after my first marathon (albeit at least 5 minutes quicker!) i.e. mojo in full swing but interested to see what I could do about getting my shorter times down.  Very broadly speaking, the one major change I made in training which helped my shorter distance times along was transitioning from easy pace + tempo runs to easy + tempo + intervals.  At risk of stating the obvious, whilst a good recipe for training for a marathon is lots of easy miles + a few miles either a bit slower or a bit faster than race pace, the same goes for training for the shorter distances, so adjust your training accordingly. 

Of course, one way to increase the intensity of some of your running without knackering yourself out is for something to give on the volume front.  Thankfully you don't have to run 6 x 20 mile runs over the course of 2 months to get in shape for a 10k!  With fresher legs from the weekend you should be in better shape for a more intense session on (say) a Tuesday. 

So you might be talking about substituting a marathon pace session with long (tempo) intervals @ HM or 10k pace, and getting used to this before introducing even faster running which really targets your VO2 max.  Before getting too prescriptive on particular sessions though, what does your recent mara training schedule look like?

28/10/2010 at 06:18

Thanks very much Phil. I used the P&D 70mpw schedule, but I've PMd you and can send over my training log. Phase 3 of the training was "Race Prep", so I was doing a weekly intervals session, say 5x 1000m, or 6 x 800m or 4 x 1200m, 3x 1600m. Most of that was being run around 5:40-5:50 m/m. HR was hitting 94-95%. Felt pretty intense to me

In fact, it's been the pleasure of running these sessions that has made me feel like I have a bit of potential to go even faster. I finished a session a couple of days ago with a bit of a sprint at the back of where I work, where there is a traffic radar. Managed to register 25km/h but could have gone faster still.

30/10/2010 at 08:33


Fairly early in this thread, I posted that I was focussing on training for half-marathons, and that due to time commitments I was running 3 days during the week as part of my commute to work, plus a long run at the weekend. Therefore I was aiming to build up my mileage to around 38m a week with a plan that looked like.....

Long run: 12m

Easy 1: 6m

Easy 2: 6m

Midweek Long: 8m

Easy 3: 6m

This has been going ok, but I've thought of a variation that I think might be better in the long run, based on running on my way to work one day, then running as part of my journey home the next day, plus one day where I run both ways. This would look like.......

Sat or Sun: 12m LSD

Monday: 5m easy

Tuesday: 3m easy

Wednesday: 8m easy

Thursday: 5m easy

Friday: 3m easy 

What do people think? I think this might be better because it's more miles, but more importantly once I'm used to this mileage, presumably I could insert some structured "quality" into the 5m runs?


11/11/2010 at 00:54

Just thought I'd give this excellent thread a nudge - I've been trying to take some of the recomendations on board, and I've been slowly moving up to approx 50km per week. I'm targetting the Wilmslow Half Marathon at the end of March, so I've got about 4.5 months left to really work at it.

I've dropped all real quality work for the past few weeks (since my last half in fact, at the beginning of October). At the moment, I'm doing 1 long run of about 23km, 1 easy run of about 13km, and another easy run with a friend that's historically been 10km but is going to be increasing slowly over the next few months (we did 12km today).

I'm also doing a session of running drills each week, along with a 2.5km warm up and a 5km run afterwards. I'm doing strides as part of this session.

I'm aiming to increase the 13km run, and the run with my friend my about 0.5-1km each per week for the next few weeks, until I reach 60km per week then hold that for a few weeks. After that, I'm planning to start introducing some quality back in - hopefully I'll be in a position to run 5 times per week by then. Then it's a case of gradually re-balancing the ratio of long / easy / quality work.

I'm also trying to introduce some core work, and some flexibility work - in particular, I think the flexibility work is really helping me at the moment.

16/11/2010 at 20:43

Found this thread interesting reading.

31/05/2011 at 21:50
Thanks, Moraghan. Very timely that I came across your advice just at the start of my first HM training. Brilliant stuff.

Link to my new blog about stepping up to the challenge:
Edited: 31/05/2011 at 21:52
03/06/2011 at 13:18
This thread deserves an award of somekind. So much useful information for a noobie such as myself and I'm sure the vets out there could also gain something from this.
18/09/2012 at 14:04

Just rediscovered this thread in my bookmarks after completing another slow and very under-trained Great North Run. Fantastic advice in the first post and great discussion in the following pages, so I thought it was worthy of another bump. I'm going to follow the advice in training for a December 10k, hoping to build on what little fitness I've built over the last couple of months. Something like:

Sun - Long and easy 9m

Tues - 2m easy, 3m speed-work, 1m easy

Weds 6m easy

Fri - 2m easy, 3m speed-work, 1m easy

Of course, the hard part for someone not used to running 4 times a week regularly is actually getting out and doing it, but it's good to have a plan.

Edited: 18/09/2012 at 14:11
18/09/2012 at 15:33

Yep, good thread ... I often give this link to people ... and I know I'm not the only one.

18/09/2012 at 23:16
Useful thread and would really appreciate any advice on my training...
41 yo female, been running for 18 months (with 3 month break last year as injured my knee).
I've only run one 5k and two 10k races but in training my best times are 22m 50 for 5k, 47m 35 for 10k and 1hr 41 for 13.1 miles which I have just done once. Have a 10k race end of this month and a 10 mile one in October.

A typical week for me is as follows:

Wednesday - run of 4-6 miles at around 7m 40 pace
Friday - run of 6-7 miles with hills, averaging around 7m 45 pace
Sunday - long run of around 10 miles at around 7m 45 to 8m pace

It feels as if I am really pushing myself on each run as I seem to be beating my PBs each week. Should I be doing more easy runs to avoid burning out? Also, should I be trying to run 4-5 times a week instead of 3? Also I feel that there should be a bigger difference in pace between my shorter runs and my longer runs. Should I be trying to go faster on my shorter runs? Not sure I can!

Realise lots of questions, but keen to get better so any advice welcomed...!
19/09/2012 at 06:15
Another day or two would help but not all of a sudden, add 1more day to start with then when your comfertable with that after a month or so and you dont have any niggles then have add another day, also make these two extra days easy running untill you are used to them.

Your easy runs should be easy aswell so more like 7:50-8:00min pace atleast but not faster though otherwise its not really an easy day. you need to get out of this way of trying to pb in training each time you go out. you say about how your not sure if you can go faster in training but if most of your runs were easy you would be able to do atleast 1 of them faster.
19/09/2012 at 07:19

I definitely think you need to slow your runs down.

If I compare you to me, my 10k time and HM time are both about 7 mins quicker than yours, but my easy pace is almost a minute per mile slower.

So, easy pace for me is anything over 08:30-08:45/mile, and sometimes is even as high as 09:30-10:00/mile.

My advice would be to slow down your runs, gradually introduce another run of around 6 miles so you're doing 4 runs a week, and then start to introduce one run a week where you run quicker than easy....
19/09/2012 at 08:40
Great thread. I've been running 1/2's and distances around that but haven't felt particularly "optimum" at the distance, although I am usually in the top 25% of the race with around 100 mins depending on the course and terrain. I haven't fealt ready to do the kind of mileage and training required to make significant improvement on that.

Also been trying to get my 5k time under 20 mins, nearly there and hope to crack it at Parkrun on 29th Sept.

Haven't run 10k for years and not since I started running again in June 2011. Ran a 10k cross country last weekend as it was local and did very well. Certainly my best race result and only a couple of mins off the lead.

This made me think maybe 10k was my optimum distance on my current training and fitness.

Then stumbled across this thread this morning which suggests that that is exactly where I am up to.

Makes a lot of sence.
19/09/2012 at 09:34

I've been reading this thread with interest and there seems plenty of good and well intentioned advice on it.

The problem I have is this overwhelming sense of having missed most of an opportunity to be quite good at something.  I don't know if anyone else can relate to this but i've always been pretty decent at sports but never really taken a single one seriously enough to progress in it.  Now I have scaled down to just running and golf as these are both sports that I can continue to do into my old age, so it made sense to get focussed on them.

If I can be self-indulgent for a moment and explain my background.  I've been running casually for about 4 years.  First 9 months with untold pains, last 3 years or so with none whatsoever (thank God).  I ran 98% 5k runs up until about 5 months ago and then started doing the odd 10k, probably 10-15 (I never kept track) in total.  I'd run 3-4 times a week with a weekly mileage of 9-15 miles per week.  Not much.  Here's the thing though, I entered the Salford 10k a few weeks ago and finished joint 99th in a time of 41.46.  This, despite not realising where I was supposed to start and there being over 2 minutes difference between gun and chip times (first mile over 8 mins because of battling through the throngs) and then falling over my own clumsy feet with 2k to go and hitting the deck - ouch!  Since then, i've done a training run of around a 40 minute 10k, on hills.  Did my first park run in Bolton last week, 19.30 on a hilly course. 

I do believe that my times, off the back of little formal training and only a handful of runs longer than 5k, show promise.  I suspect I might have potential to be a half-decent runner and i'd like to capitalise on that.  I've now started to realise that my training was a farce.  All I ever did was go out and run and tried to beat my own PB every time.  With that and my low weekly mileage, does that make those finish times more surprising?  Perhaps they're not as good as I think they seem.


Damn, i'm prattling here.  Sorry. The point i'm trying to get to is that i'm frustrated with myself.  I'm 34 now and should have started all this 10 years or so ago.  I don't rightly know how much longer I can continue to improve before ageing starts to counter-balance the improvement.  I'm in a hurry now.  I want to see where I can take this before it's too late and that includes scaling up to marathons and maybe even ultras after that (depends if I enjoy the marathons I guess!).  Since the change of mindset I have run 12 miles (last Sunday) in about 1.28 without really pushing it.  I will scale up to longer runs as time goes on but I also don't want to push too hard too soon.

So I appreciate all the sound advice on here about scaling up slowly and perhaps trying to settle on one race distance that suits you best but time is not on my side, unfortunately.  I want to find out what i'm really capable of and that has to involve scaling up the mileage.  I'd really appreciate some person/scenario specific advice that could be applied here

Edited: 19/09/2012 at 09:41
19/09/2012 at 09:47

Strangely –  I wouldn’t worry too much about the ageing process, 34 is pretty young in running terms. You have many years of improvement ahead of you and the gains you will get from training will far outweigh any modest decline you might experience as you get a bit older. Many of the fastest runners on these forums are well into their 40s.

19/09/2012 at 10:22

Thanks Viper.  Time waits for no man though and there's a reason why most athletes peak in their mid 20s - mid 30s.  I appreciate that the decline may be slow to start with but it's a decline none-the-less and I guess I just want to advance as swift as I can before any decline begins to nibble away at the gains i'm making.  Kinda frustrating to think that if I trained up to run a 35 minute 10k by the time i'm 40, it may have been 34.30 if i'd started the same training plan 10 years prior!

19/09/2012 at 10:26

Strangely yes but a 35 minute 10k will be more competitive in the vet40 category than a 34.30 as a senior

19/09/2012 at 10:30

  You're a glass half-full man, I can tell that!!

19/09/2012 at 10:32
YP- thats an interesting point you make about the training runs being slower. My 10k race pace is 5:28 my easy run pace is about 7:50- 8:00 so clearly there is every reason for slowkoala to slow down his easy runs, tis interesting though that some runners still feel the need to train fast everytime.
19/09/2012 at 10:36

Haha that’s something that’s rarely said about me . You should take a look at the Middle Ground thread - plenty of super speedy vets on there to provide you with some inspiration.

Andy - Indeed. 7.50 pace is only 7 seconds a mile slower than his HM race pace. Clearly too fast for everyday easy running.

Edited: 19/09/2012 at 10:38
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