Basic races that every runner should do
If you want to improve your results (or even avoid injuries), you should include a variety of different types of races. Having this variety causes several different effects on your body, such as
- Improved running speed;
- Increased strength;
- Increased endurance;
- Reduced risk of injury.
In this article, I will go through five different types of runs and give you a training example, as well as a suggested effort for each session! However, instead of giving you a certain pace for running, we are going to use the rate of perceived effort (RPE) to choose how fast you should run each race. The RPE scale is a widely used measure of effort in sports. It is a simple and easy to use method of analyzing an individual’s effort.
Why use the RPE scale?
As you know, a 4:30 race can be easy in one day and impossible a week later! This change in performance can come from many things: work-related stress, accumulated fatigue from over-training, not having enough recovery time between sessions, stress in our daily lives, etc.
Scientific research has shown that stress has a real effect on our bodies, decreasing our performance and increasing the rate of injury, so it is important to listen to your body and train properly.
That is why I choose to use the RPE scale with athletes. The RPE scale allows an athlete to train at the highest intensity they can tolerate on a given day. By using the RPE scale, we know that the athlete is always doing his or her best and is not over-training.
For example, the Athlete will always run a 10km Tempo Run with a high intensity RPE ‘9, no matter what pace he chooses, he will always push his body to the maximum effort. However, a 4:20 and 10 km Tempo run may feel good on some days, but on others it is too intense for the body, due to the daily stress, and by forcing our body to follow that pace, we could be causing harm instead of improving our performance.
Mountain running is incredible and should be a basic element in any runner’s routine. Mountain running puts you in a biomechanical advantageous position to run efficiently – not only that, but running uphill is great strength training too! If you don’t have hills in your area, most treadmills have a setting to increase the incline – try it!
Training example: find a hill with a good solid hill that takes at least 30 seconds to climb. Sounds easy, but it’s a killer! When you get to the top, take an active break by running down the hill slowly. Rinse and repeat at least 6 times (maximum 10).
Fartlek is a Swedish term for speed play, which is exactly what you will do. The basic idea is to run at your regular pace and, at any time during your run, increase your speed to anywhere between 80-100% of your maximum effort for a short period of time. This session is fun!
Training example: 30 minute run with speed bursts of 7/8 of 100 meters The bursts can be done whenever you want, just make sure you have at least 2 minutes of active rest between each one (although you can do them 5 minutes apart). Slow down to your normal running speed after each speed burst.
Possibly the most difficult session you will ever do: the pace of the race is intense. You will run with great effort for a relatively long period of time. This session is physically and mentally exhausting, so keep it short to have an easy run the day before and after a temporary run.
Training example: this training should be relatively short. If your normal run lasts 30 minutes, a tempo run could last 20 minutes. Run at your desired running pace and try to maintain that pace throughout the race. If this is not possible, run at 80% of your desired running pace (and increase the percentage each week thereafter).
This session does what it says! It allows your body to recover after an intense training session or race.
Training example: the goal here is simple: to recover from a difficult session the day before. Just take a deep breath and run at an easy pace – remember, however, this is not an excuse to slacken off! The technique is still important: click here for more information on running technique.
Aahh, the long run. The opportunity to get out on the road/trails at a comfortable pace and simply enjoy what we love most: running. Pay special attention to the following example because it is easy to get hurt if you overdo it!
Training example: the long run usually takes place once a week, the day your schedule allows for a long session. Ideally, you will increase your long distance by 10% each week – this is a good number to avoid increasing the distance too much and possibly causing injury!