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Southport Half Marathon & 10k Training Plan Weeks 5-8

Welcome to the Southport Half Marathon & 10k training page and training plan 2019. The page and the plan is hosted by The Endurance Store, an independent running shop in Wrightington, near junction 27 M6. We've been coaching runners and triathletes for 25 years and have a wealth of experience. The Facebook group will allow you to ask questions and hopefully, we'll successfully guide you to race day!

The plan is a 'template' and you can do more or do less. Experienced runners may wish to 'cherry pick' key sessions or workouts, whilst novices may wish to follow the plan precisely. The first thing you need to do is read everything below, then read it again so you fully understand. This page may include novice runners hoping to complete their first 10k and experienced runners aiming for a half marathon PB. The range of abilities means that we have a template and then you ask questions with regards to how to adapt it, to best suit you.

The Plan Basics

Our coaching principles for runners are pretty simple. Running is like a bowl of home made soup, if you only include 1 ingredient, you'll get the same bland outcome. By adding a variety of ingredients, the finished article is always much better! There's 3 basic ingredients that we try to include at all times, these are:

1. Something hard
2. Something long
3. Something fast

Do Something Hard

This is pretty simple, it's important to work hard and enhance your 'engine'. You can use whatever fancy words you like such as 'aerobic capacity' or 'VO2 maximum' but basically, you need to work your engine by running hard (faster than your race pace) for shorter periods of time. You should push your breathing and heart rate beyond it's comfortable level and you don't necessarily need a heart rate monitor or GPS watch to tell you that. Running is pretty simple, use perceived effort, if it feels hard, then it is.

Do Something Long

Whether you're running 10k or half marathon, you need to do something which is at least as long as your race. The word 'endurance' implies that you can 'keep going for a long time' and this is the 'something long'. The key thing to know about 'something long' is that it should be easy... you should be able to hold a full conversation. People often get caught in the 'grey area' between 'something hard' and 'something long'... if you run a little bit too quick, you get tired and have to stop early, so you're not able to run 'long'. Whilst you were running a 'bit too quick' it wasn't actually that quick, so technically it wasn't 'something hard'. If you run in the grey area, it's not long enough and it's also not hard enough.

*POLARISE YOUR TRAINING. If you're running HARD then run short, but run HARD. If you're running LONG then run easy but run LONG. The biggest mistake made by most runners is spending too much time between 'easy' and 'hard' in the middle/grey area.

Do Something Fast

Okay, so here's where people can get confused. How is 'doing something fast' different to 'doing something hard'? The best example I can think of is running up a steep hill, your heart rate may be really high as you're working incredibly hard, but you're not going very fast!

*POLARISE YOUR TRAINING. The purpose of running fast is to learn how to coordinate your legs and move them quickly, whilst remaining smooth and relaxed. The purpose or running fast is not to 'work your engine' so you may only run 30m with a fast fluid style and then stop. It's not far enough to raise your heart rate, but that's not the purpose. The purpose is to run fast, remain smooth and learn how to coordinate your limbs... It's a skill/technique, not a workout.

Think about it this way. Let the tyres down on your car and see how it drives, the answer is not very well, because the wheels don't roll properly! To solve that issue, you don't alter the engine, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the engine, that can provide enough power. There's a lot of great runners who have strong engines, but they only run at one speed, so their 'skill/coordination' is very poor. Sometimes you just need to pump their tyres up and then suddenly they roll properly! Don't underestimate how much difference this can make to the average runner.

The Plan Weeks 1-4

There's 3 key sessions for weeks 1-4 adaptable for everyone

Do Something Long

Monday Feb 4th: Weeks 1-4

Aim for anywhere between 30-90 minutes depending upon your current ability. The key things are:

Do it easy, run at conversation pace! It's not hard and it's not fast, it's LONG. You can run the whole thing or you can jog / walk. For example, if you're a complete novice, you may jog 1 minute and brisk walk 2 and repeat this 10 times to make 30 minutes. Going LONG is all about TIME ON FEET so in effect, 60 minutes of jog/walk is better than 30 minutes of continuous jogging as you went LONGER.

Monday March 4th: Weeks 5-8

We're 16 weeks to go, so the structure should now start to take effect. The principle for the long run is the same as above, but you should start to set some targets. Where do you want to be in 16 weeks time? Write it down on a piece of paper to add some natural progression. If you aim to run the half marathon in 2 hours, you need to gradually build to that time, progressing slightly each week. If you're a complete novice aiming to run the whole of the 10k, think about how you are going to progress your continuous running (2 min run 1 min walk > 3 min run 1 min walk > 4 min run 1 min walk etc). For less experienced runners aim to build to the same time you'll be running on event day. For experienced runners, you can go over that time. If you're unsure, ask the questions on the facebook group.

Do Something Hard

Monday Feb 4th: Weeks 1-4

Interval workout, warm up for 10 minutes very easy jogging then run 1 minute at a HARD pace, followed by an easy 2 minutes jog / walk to recover. I'm not interested in how fast you run, the only question to answer is DOES IT FEEL HARD? You can complete up to 10 of these intervals (10 X 1 minute with 2/3 minutes recovery), novices you only need to start at 3 or 4, REMEMBER you're better to do 3 of them REALLY HARD as opposed to 10 of them at an easier pace, POLARISE YOUR TRAINING and understand the objective of the workout.

Monday March 4th: Weeks 5-8

Progress your intervals from weeks 1-4. You can also build to 12-15 minutes worth of work. So, your options, if you were doing 10 x 1 minute, progress to a max of 15 x 1 minute. Alternatively, grow the interval length to 90 seconds or 2 minutes. You could complete 5 x 2 minutes hard with a 2 minute jog / walk recovery. Build this to a maximum of 7 x 2 minutes for 14 minutes in total.

Do Something Fast

Monday Feb 4th: Weeks 1-4

All we're interested in is learning how to run quickly with a relaxed and smooth style. Warm up for 10 minutes easy jogging and do some stretches. BE CAREFUL OF INJURY IN THIS SESSION - GO STEADY AT START. Complete 20 minutes of 'FARTLEK' training by running 50m at a fast pace then jogging/walking to recover between. There is no structure to this, pick a car, or a tree, or a lamp post which is 40-50m away and then with your best inner Kenyan, run fast and fluid to that point, then take 2 minutes walk/jog recover.

You don't need to run further than 40-50m, it's all about your fluid technique and how fast you move. If you run further than 40-50m, you're just repeating the HARD session above. This isn't a physical workout, so don't increase the distance or reduce the recoveries, use it to learn how to run quickly.

On the first few efforts, ease into it, running at 60 / 70 / 80 % as the risk of sprinting flat out without being fully warmed up is pretty high. DON'T RUN FLAT OUT LIKE A SPRINTER... You are not a sprinter you are a distance runner, so don't pump your arms. Run relaxed, run fluid and let your body learn it's own way how to move quickly. If this session feels really awkward, that's good. It means you've got a lot of developments to make.

Monday March 4th:  Weeks 5-8

Continue with the fartlek session and don't progress the session in duration. Your aim is to simply move quicker. As your running technique improves, you should feel smoother and more fluid when running quickly and you should feel your speed improving. Don't worry about trying to measure your speed, you'll know from feel whether it feels better or not.

What if i run more than 3 times a week?

That's fine, just run easy. For example, if you run 5 times per week, your week might look like this:

Mon - REST

Tue - HARD intervals e.g. 5 X 2 minutes (progressing to 7)

Wed - Easy run 30 minutes

Thur - Fartlek 20 minutes

Fri - REST

Saturday - Easy run 30 minutes

Sunday - LONG run progressing over next 16 weeks

IMPORTANT - Take some time to ensure that you fully understand the explanations above and the manner in which the sessions should be completed. You've got the opportunity using this page to ask as many questions as you like and it's always better to ask than do it wrong. There's no stupid questions on here.