Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 Training Plan 2023 - Weeks 5-8
We're now on weeks 5-8 of our Lakeland Training Plan. The general basis of the sessions are the same as the last 4 weeks as it'll take 3-6 months to see significant changes from running below aerobic threshold.
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. 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 over the first few months.
As runners, we like 'variety' and we're often looking for the 'next thing'. The reality is, aerobic economy takes time, requires patience and the sessions are repetitive.
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:
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
Additions to the plan for weeks 5-8
1. Complete a Parkrun or 5k time trial and record the time for reference
2. Complete a 4-6 hours session which is a combination of walk / jog, this can be done on any of the weekends within the next 4 weeks. Try to find a hilly trail course and carry full kit. Your objective for this session is very simple, you need to complete it and feel fully recovered the next day. If your legs are sore, you went too hard. Do not run hard for 4 hours... aim to complete the session at the intensity you'd hope to hold for the 50 or 100 mile event. Plan a day out with friends at some point in the next 4 weeks, then confirm it in your calendar. If you're thinking 'I can't possibly do a 6 hour day'... you're wrong. You just need to walk most of it and you'll be fine, stop feeling as though you have to run it.
3. Enter the VIRTUAL EVENT. Whilst we do have an ulterior motive here and we're hoping to raise as much money for charity as possible... there's a real learning and training benefit to doing the virtual event. Running 105 miles in 12 days requires you to slow down and run at the correct pace, so you can wake up the next day and repeat. We discussed in an earlier blog post that the way to 'build volume' is to slow down and go easy. Athletes who run over 100 miles every week, reach that point by running the bulk of it very slowly. If you don't think you'll manage 105 miles, then enter the 50, but then aim to exceed that figure and see how far you can go. We'll talk more about this next month.
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...
Notes for weeks 5-8
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.
2. DO NOT ignore the acceleration strides, GET THEM DONE! Running slowly can make you feel very 'ploddy' and you need something to sharpen your leg speed and prevent you from just getting slow. DO THE STRIDES.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
You can ask questions in the Facebook GROUP. We'll be chatting more this week about strength and conditioning.
If you'd like to accurately calculate aerobic threshold and training zones, then visit us for a sports science assessment HERE.
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