In Part 1 of this two part series, I discussed the first three aspects of what I consider to be the building blocks of distance running. The three aspects that were covered included easy runs, fartleks, and tempo runs. If you have not read Part 1 then read it here.
Today I will cover the other four building blocks that create the whole distance running foundation.
I'm going to cut the jibber-jabbering and we are going to dive right in!
Any runner that is looking to improve their race performances or other workouts, need to include long runs in their program. Long runs are king when it comes to building aerobic capacity - the ability to use oxygen to produce energy.
Certainly, a runner who is training for a marathon will have a longer long run than a runner training for a 5k, but both runner's long run is vital to improving their aerobic capacity.
How far, how fast, and on what terrain depends on many factors, but generally long runs are performed once a week for an hour or more.
Runners training for longer races will often need to run much longer than this - up to 2 or 2 and half hours. These runners not only need the benefit of building aerobic capacity, but also running long is training your body to be able to handle running for long peroids of time since your race will take longer to complete.
The track. Some runners love it. Some runners hate it. Some have a love-hate relationship. How ever you feel about the track, every runner must complete interval sessions if they wish to have success in any any event from the mile all the way up to the marathon. The 400 meter oval provides the most formal speed work, VO2 max work, or pacing practice that a runner can do.
Usually, an interval workout is a formalized set of distances, times and length of recovery between each set. The distances of each interval typically range from 200 meters up to two miles. They are usually run in sets with varying periods of slow running or rest in between each set. The paces and distances of each interval depend on your goals and where you are in your season (if you have a goal race coming up in the upcoming months).
If you absolutely can not stand the track, I encourage you not to shy away from intervals. Instead, use some landmarks on the roads to set distances for intervals.
Intervals may be hard, uncomfortable, or scary to some people, but no one ever got better by taking the easy route. Learn to embrace intervals - or at least get them done.
Hills should be included in any runners training program because of the speed and strength it secretly builds.
How do hills build speed?
When running hills, you recruit your fast twitch fibers in order to apply more force into the ground and propel yourself both forward and upward. It's simple, greater fast twitch fiber recruitment equals greater force production, which equals a stronger and faster runner.
Another benefit of hill running, is the practice of running mechanics. The mechanics needed to run uphill are similar to that of sprinting. Practicing these mechanics when under fatigue - which you will be under when doing hill sprints - will prepare you to keep form in check when in the final kick of your race.
Hill workouts can be include short and steep sprints, long land ower grade repeats, or downhill low grade sprints. The are so many options to choose from when completing a hill workout.
As previously mentioned with the hill sprints - increased force production creates a faster, more efficient runner. The primary result from a well designed strength training program for runner does just that - increases strength and force production.
The added benefit of strength training is that it creates a more durable, less injury prone runner. A well designed strength training program also addresses and helps to fix muscular imbalances that are the cause of many running injuries.
So there you have it - the seven building blocks of distance running success.
With a solid foundation, based on these essential building blocks, you will become a stronger, faster, more efficient
Till next time,