TW Relay Team: James’s Run Blog #2

Time to work out a training schedule. The triathlon is now 8 weeks away. That's more than enough time to give me a fighting chance of running a sub 20-minute 5K. I'm booked into the Standard Chartered Great City Race, which takes place 4 weeks into the schedule. This'll give me a good idea of my progress, and I'll hopefully be able to judge the likelihood of reaching my goal. Who knows, I could even crack it on this attempt (ruining this blog and annoying my editor Alice)!

When I got back into running a few years ago, I found that I had two strong suits. Firstly, at a slow pace I can comfortably cover very long distances. I've done three marathons, but finished them all over 4 hours. Secondly, over very short distances (400m or less) I'm a pretty strong sprinter. But when I tried to combine the two, running at a fast pace over longer distances, I completely fell apart. Panic would set in, clawing at my chest for breath, until my pace tailed off and I could relax again.

Determined to improve my pace, I added a special ingredient to my training. Hard work! Hard work in the form of group speedwork sessions every week. And during my training for the London Marathon this year, while adding a speed session or two, my office nickname switched from 'JB' to 'PB'. This is because I set a personal best 7 weeks running over a handicap race.

Admittedly, I struggled at first. I almost threw up on my first session and after a few weeks I developed a bout of achilles tendonitis. Injuries are common with increased speed training (some tips on avoiding injuries here). I'll get into the different individual sessions we did in a later post, but the evidence was clear. Speedwork was improving my times dramatically.

In the lead up to Hyde Park I'd ideally like to pick a training schedule that'll allow me to keep up my two regular weekly runs; Tuesday's speed work sessions with the office staff and Thursday's 5K (sort of) handicap race. And in searching for one (helped by the Runner's World Smart Coach), I've come to the decision that three runs a week should do it. This will also allow me to fit in some strength training at the gym. More on this later.

First speed work session this week (to get back into it): 5 x 400m, with 1-minute recovery periods.