Expert: Dr. Simon Yeung - Associate Professor of Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
As the saying goes, persistency is the key to many successes – and this applies to long distance running. While training hard is crucial, it’ll get you nowhere if you don’t thoroughly understand how different training methods work or don’t have a well-planned, progressive training program.
Training method is only the tool
- From Long Steady Distance (LSD) to tempo run and interval run, there are many training methods available but the key is to understand that the training method is only the tool to help achieve your goal.
- Ask yourself what your goal is: getting stronger and healthier? Running a marathon for fun? Challenging yourself and others and striving for a better time and higher ranking?
- The essence of training is to let your body system gradually adapt to the competition environment. .
Step 1: Training for stamina
- For first-time marathon runners who only wish to cross the finish line, they are recommended to gradually increase their mileage when training and LSD run works best.
- The LSD training approach allows runners to gradually increase distance via long steady running. The increase in your running distance should be no more than 10% per week.
- For the last 3-4 weeks before race, aim to achieve 85% of the racing distance (i.e. 35km) in a single run for at least two times.
- LSD emphasis on your stamina, intensity (speed) is not the ultimate aim. Thus, the loading to your “heart” should not be great and should relax yourself to run.
Step 2: Training for pace
- When you have acquired your stamina, naturally you will be thinking of improving your running speed. For instance, you want to complete your marathon in 3 hr 30’ and you can now achieve that for half marathon. How are you going to stretch this racing pace to full marathon?
- Tempo run is the key to help you mastering your racing pace.
- When you first get started, it’s normal that you can’t maintain the tempo of the racing pace throughout the run. (e.g. if you want to do a 15km tempo run, you might only be able to maintain speed for about 10km and then start to lose speed, or you have to pull out all your effort to maintain the racing pace.)
- Master the tempo of the racing pace is more important than pulling out all your effort to maintain the pace.
- Aim for good pace but run with ease. Your running pace should coordinate with your breathing rhythm – ideally the breathing cycle should be one every 3 steps. Thus, your pulse during the tempo run is high but your mind is in control.
Step 3: Training for speed to improve your pace
- Interval run, a series of fast speed followed by a short rest period helps develop speed-endurance such that you can master your tempo run better.
- Your heart is pumping hard in interval run and can reach up to 90-95% of your Maximum heart rate or maximum oxygen uptake. The work to rest ratio should be 1:1, depending on your running speed and distance.
- 1km x 10 (running for 1km repeatedly for 10 times) is a common interval run workout for HM and FM.
- Your running speed should be higher than running for 10km at one go. A general guideline is to use your 5 km best time pace for your 1 km pace. For instance, if your 5 km best time is 20’, your 1km interval run should be set at around 4’/km pace.
(All Rights Reserved by Dr. Simon Yeung)