Q&A: Race training

Will I lose fitness if I run every third day instead of every second day?

Not necessarily, but include intense workouts – they preserve aerobic fitness for one to three months even if you run less often. Make one or two weekly sessions intervals, fartleks, hill repeats or tempo runs. And every week or two, to maintain endurance, run long – up to three-quarters of the distance of your longest peak season run. Ideally, your weekly mileage shouldn’t dip below half of your peak-training mileage.

Catherine Williams-Frank, coach

How high does my weekly mileage need to be before I start speedwork?

You should be logging at least 15-20 miles and three weekly runs. If you’re not there, increase gradually. This ‘base’, ideally accompanied by twice-weekly strength training, will allow you to begin speedwork with minimal injury risk. Still, ease in with a few weeks of mid-run pace pickups (fartleks) – where you run faster for short periods or towards trees or lampposts, recover at a slower pace and repeat as desired.

Claire Shorenstein, running coach

Can I split runs - like doing fives miles in the morning and evening instead of one 10-miler?

Sure. Two shorter runs can reduce your injury risk because you’ll cut the repetitive joint stresses per run in half, and have time to recover. Splitting runs also allows greater variety in your training scheme. For example, you can do an easy run in the morning and a tempo run or intervals in the afternoon or evening. Or do a flat road run in the morning and hilly trails in the afternoon. Or you can run two sixes instead of a 10-miler to boost your mileage. If you’re training for a half marathon or marathon, however, don’t split your long runs in half more often than every other week – and don’t split the last, longest run – so that you can practise your fuelling strategy and be well prepared for the distance.

Mark Kotarski, running coach

If I can match my 12-minute mile run pace on brisk walks, why run?

Running burns more calories: it is higher intensity due to the stronger push-off with each stride. And if you want to increase your mileage or get faster, 12-minute-pace running does more to condition and prep the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems to achieve those goals than brisk walking does. And remember, if walk breaks help you increase your speed and distance, take them!

Kristin Steadman, coach

Which drills are best for power?

Try fast skips – five rapid skips, repeated for three sets, and lunge jumps (three sets of four). Stand with one foot forward, knee bent, and your rear knee nearly touching the ground. Ensure that your front knee is over the midline of the foot. Extending through both legs, jump up, swinging your arms to gain lift. In midair, switch the position of your legs, moving your front leg to the back and rear leg to the front. As you land, absorb the impact through the legs by adopting the lunge position, and repeat. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute between sets. Do these after a warm-up or an easy run two or three times per week.

Jim Radcliffe, co-author of High-Powered Plyometrics (Human Kinetics)