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Endurance Running Training Principles

This article is to help you understand some of the terminology used in the Club training sessions and to remind you of the principles of endurance running training, to increase the likelihood of achieving your running goals and reduce the risk of injury.

Principle of Progressive Overload

Because of the need to enable adaptation, most training programmes have 4 to 6-week blocks of similar effort. So, at the beginning of the training block the efforts are tough but by the end of the 6 weeks, they are relatively easy, before the next block where the intensity or volume increases. This enables the body to adapt. NB a continuous increase in intensity or volume results in overloading the body’s systems so that injury or illness becomes a significant risk. Also, it has been found that every third week should be easier than the previous two; some recommend halving the volume, i.e. miles.

Types of Sessions

There are four basic types of training sessions, and they vary in three aspects associated with the efforts:

  • Duration (how long)

  • Intensity (how fast)

  • Frequency (how often)

Easy Session– steady running at a pace that feels comfortable. Builds fitness of the heart and lungs and enables the body (joints, tendons, muscles, bones) to get used to running.

Tempo Session- a sustained run at a comfortably hard pace (or split in to multiple efforts) for about 20 to 30 minutes or, if split in to intervals, for a similar total time of tempo running. It builds stamina, i.e. ability to maintain a pace for a longer duration.

Interval Session- A training session that involves repeated bouts of exercise, separated by rest intervals. Depending of the length of exercise and rest periods, it may be anaerobic or aerobic training. This builds body’s capability to run faster, i.e. increases running fitness. Usually the rest periods are shorter or equal to the efforts, so body does not fully recover between efforts – session should feel “hard”.

Repetition session – a training session designed to be fast, the recoveries being longer than the efforts. It improves speed endurance as gets body used to running faster. Generally, the session will involve shorter efforts and will be shorter than an Intervals session.

In summary, all the above sessions have different durations, intensity (or pace/recoveries) and frequency and that provides different challenges to the body enabling it to become stronger, reducing risk of injury, and to maintain or improve running performance.

Guidance for Sessions, based on 5k race PB

The following table shows the correct pace to run the different session types, based on your Personal Best for 5km (Baseline). There is no advantage in running them faster than shown, but you should review your capability, i.e. 5km PB, after each training block to determine whether you need to adjust your “baseline”.

Other forms of training

Fartlek session (“Speed play”) - Training in which the pace is varied from a fast sprint to slow jogging, so is a mixture of above sessions and can add variety to a training plan.

Moneghetti session (“Mono Fartlek”)– A continuous 20 minute fartlek run performed by alternating between an “on” pace which is on the speedy side, and an “off” pace which is the pace of your typical easy run. There are no stop breaks. Typically: warm up, followed by 2 x (90sec on, 90 sec off), 4 x (60 sec on, 60 sec off), 4 x (30 sec on, 30 sec off), 4 x (15 sec on, 15 sec off) and then cool down. Named after Steve Moneghetti, the Australian Marathon runner, the session was devised by his coach, Chris Wardlaw.

Resistance training -Training designed to increase the body's strength, power, and muscular endurance through resistance exercise. The most common form of which is weight training.

Tapering- A reduction in training intensity before a major competition to give the body time to recover and adapt so as to reach a peak in performance.

Session Guidance

Endurance training should include four types of session:

  • Easy (~80% of your time running)

  • Tempo (~10% of your time running)

  • Intervals or Repetitions (~10% of your time running)

These will usually be split into one Intervals/Reps session, one Tempo run, one long run at easy pace (usually 90 minutes or more) and any other runs at easy pace. If you are only running for less than 2 hours a week, only do one of the two faster sessions : the “Tempo Run”.

Note To help prevent injury and to support the body’s adaptation to running training, other forms of training, in particular, resistance training (weights), are beneficial.

Here follows some jargon-busting terminology you may hear associated with running training.

Running Glossary

Aerobic – “with oxygen” aerobic training is relatively low intensity

Anaerobic – “without oxygen” – training which is of short duration and intense

Anaerobic threshold (sometimes just called “threshold”) – the point where lactic acid starts to accumulate in the muscles as anaerobic processes become dominant.

Duration – how long an “effort” is, whatever the training type

Endurance – body’s ability to exercise with minimal fatigue

EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, commonly called “oxygen debt”. Oxygen used to help rebalance the body, including supporting replenish energy levels in the cells, through the hormone system, etc.

Frequency – the time between the efforts in sessions, e.g. 30s efforts, every 90s, means 60s recovery

Heart Rate Variation – naturally the pulse has slight variations around the beat. The higher the level of variation the less stressed one is and able to perform training effectively.

Intensity – how hard the efforts should be in a given time, generally higher intensity being faster speed/pace, but could be not that fast but with very short recoveries. Think efforts time over total time.

Overtraining - A physical and mental state which occurs due to excessive training without adequate recovery

Repetitions or Reps - the number of times a lift or effort is made continuously, one after another and without any rest.

Respiratory exchange ratio – ratio of CO2 produced and oxygen used. If RER is above one then one is working very hard, i.e. at VO2max (below). Determined by measuring gases in your breath!

Resting heart rate - The number of heart beats in one minute (bpm) when a person is at complete rest. A person's resting heart rate decreases as they become more fit.

Rolling - time between efforts, e.g. 60s efforts; rolling 90s, means 30s rest – a tough session! See frequency.

Sets - A set is a group of repetitions. A workout usually includes several sets of each exercise.

VO2max - The maximum capacity for oxygen consumption by the body during maximum exercise. Commonly called aerobic power, it is a measure of aerobic fitness

Gym Glossary

AMRAP – as many as possible, usually referring to sets.

EMOM, E3MOM – every minute on the minute; every 3rdminute, on the minute

Supersets - alternating two exercises with no or little rest to challenge different muscle groups

TABATA – Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercises that last four minutes, usually with repeats of 20 seconds effort, 10 seconds rest. Named after Japanese physician and researcher, Dr Izumi Tabata.

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