Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 Training Plan 2023 - Weeks 1-4
We're starting our plan and weeks 1-4 are very simple to get you into the groove. We've posted 3 blogs already which talk about the training plan overview and you can read those in full by following the relevant links below:
Blog 1 - Enjoyment is key for consistency
Blog 2 - Specificity rules
Blog 3 - Training zones and tech
Let's just remind ourselves of the training zones, for which you can use perceived effort (go from feel) or heart rate. Let's also remind ourselves of the 2 ventilatory threshold points which dictate those zones.
Zone 1 / EASY - This is running and being able to hold a full conversation without pausing for breath.
Zone 2 / STEADY - As the pace increases slightly, your conversation continues but you will notice that it is now slightly broken. You have to pause slightly and catch your breath between words.
*The point at which you go from being able to hold a full conversation to then having to hold a broken conversation is Ventilatory Threshold 1 (VT1) and we may also refer to this as the 'aerobic threshold'.
Zone 3 / HARD - The pace increases further and you now have to stop talking altogether because you are breathing harder. You're still in control though and this feels like the kind of pace you could probably hold for an hour. It's hard, but it's still 'aerobic'.
Zone 4 / VERY HARD - The pace build even further and your heart rate is climbing rapidly. You feel like you're going to lose touch with the group and push a little more which triggers very rapid breathing, you feel as though you're on the verge of hyperventilation and know that this pace is not sustainable.
*That rapid change in breathing, the feeling that your breathing is about to go out of control is Ventilatory Threshold 2 (VT2).
Structuring the weekly plan
Monday - REST / Strength
Tuesday - 30-60 minutes zone 1 / 5 x 15 seconds acceleration strides
Wednesday - 30-60 minutes zone 1
Thursday - 30-60 minutes zone 1 / 5 x 15 seconds acceleration strides
Friday - REST / Strength
Saturday - 60-120 minutes zone 1
Sunday - 30-60 minutes zone 1
*Adjust the time to suit you. Even if you only go out for 15-20 minutes, that's SIGNIFICANTLY better than not going out. If you're injured or tired and can't run, go and walk, it's more beneficial than you think. Consistency is more important that the time spent running. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up, jog/shuffle for 15 minutes rather than starting fast.
What are acceleration strides and why so we do them?
Acceleration strides are very simple. You start by jogging slowly then gradually and progressively increase the pace over 10-15 seconds until you feel like you are running FAST. The reason why we do this is because if the bulk of your running is slow, your legs become lazy and forget how to move quickly in a coordinated manner. It's got nothing to do with fitness, you shouldn't feel out of breath, it's purely to improve your coordination. Some people may start to feel uncoordinated even at a moderate speed. Try to relax, let your stride flow and do not 'force it' You shouldn't run like a sprinter with pumping arms, you should run like a distance runner with relaxed flowing form. You should also never run at maximum speed, just the fastest pace you can reach, whilst still feeling relaxed and in control. It should only last 15 seconds or 50m, then you should slow down and recover for at least 1 minute. Picture a world class runner in full slow... be the world class runner...
I hate strength work, I'll ignore that bit...
I know, I hate it too. I do it when I'm injured, then stop... then I get injured again and repeat. Let's make a fresh start and embrace some conditioning, it'll significantly increase your chances of getting to the start line. You don't need a gym, just 30 minutes at home. There's more to come on this... hold fire.
Notes for weeks 1-4
1. Understand the training zones above and apply perceived effort or heart rate correctly. In the next 4 weeks, try to identify your own intensity based on the description above. Can you hold a full conversation? Is it broken or can you simply not talk at all? Tune in to your body, listen to your breathing and learn how to run from feel.
2. Get into the routine. As we've previously stated, the difficult part is simply going out of the door and doing the training, writing the plan is the easy part. To some extent, the actual session that you do is less important. Just go out of the door and start the routine.
3. Do you struggle to stay in. zone 1 / hold full conversation and feel that you are going too slow and have to drift into zone 2? That means you are especially weak in that area. Giving up on the idea and simply running harder is not the answer. You need to tackle it head on and stick to the correct intensity if you want to solve the problem.
4. Shouldn't I be doing a mixture of workouts to include intervals etc? No, not at this point. Our prime goal for this phase is to raise VT1 (increase the pace you can run at whilst still holding full conversation). The more stimulus in that one area the better, so for now, we're throwing all our eggs into one basket to maximise the gains in that specific area rather than 'doing bits of everything'. High intensity training is beneficial in the right amount at the right time. Now is not the time.
5. You can choose the amount of time you run, but the rule is simple. Stay in zone throughout and if your legs ache a little the next day, then you ran too hard. The goal is to reach the point where you could easily run at least 1 hour each day for several weeks, with no problems. To do that, you need to run slow.
6. I'm a bit disappointed really...It looks a bit dull? Just seems to be the same thing with no real complexity? Well.. that's because I'm not trying to dress it up and make it look sexy to attract your attention. Phase 1 is all about raising VT1 and this is precisely how you do it. It's amazing though, that something so simple, will still be such a challenge for lots of people. Sticking to zone, listening to your body, completing the acceleration strides and doing some basic conditioning, that's quite a lot if done correctly and consistently.
How long will it take to improve and what will the improvements be?
It'll take about 3 months if you stick at it to start seeing the benefits and 12 month or more to really see the bigger changes. This approach takes time, but leads to real progress. High intensity training gives you a return much sooner, but you also plateau and stop improving very quickly, with no real long term progress. Just ask yourself whether you get better year on year, if the answer is no, there's nothing to lose. We have time on our hands, so we can follow a progressive, phased plan.
Measuring progress is difficult as we're enhancing sub-maximal economy (as above, the pace you can run at and still hold a conversation). You may not see any instant gains in your 5k PB but what you should start to see is an increase in pace, whilst still running in zone 1 / below VT1. You may have to walk uphills in the initial weeks, but this will change to the point where you can still jog and maintain the correct heart rate. Those are the kind of changes you're looking for.
You can ask questions on the Facebook post and we'll be chatting more about strength and conditioning. The ball is now in your court.
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