Monday, 26 August 2019

#runsub17 - Week 2

I've met a lot of amazing runners over the years and I recently turned to someone for some advice. I didn't really get any guidance or advice back in the 1990s when I was a decent runner. All I used to do was just try and run as quick as I could to the beat of the music on my Walkman. I don't think I'll get away with that approach this time around. I'm therefore handing over this week's blog to someone who knows what it takes to run quicker than 17 minutes and then some. 

Pictured below is Steve Medd who is a Gateshead Harrier and he has also represented England. Steve started to run to lose weight, after piling on the pounds. He found that he enjoyed it and it was so much more interesting than hitting the gym! The rest, as they say, is history as Steve has a very impressive record indeed. According to Strava - Marathon - 02:38:22. Half Marathon - 01:13:31. 10 miles - 00:57:12. 10k - 00:33:33. 5k - 00:16:25. 1 mile - 00:04:53. 1500m - 00:04:27. As I'm writing this blog, I've just heard that Steve grabbed a gold in today's Tartan Games 1 mile event.

What Steve continues to achieve is even more phenomenal when you take into account that he is a secondary school teacher that has a young family! I think I'm right in saying that Steve is well placed to offer me some sound advice on running.

I asked Steve one simple question "What advice would you give me if I'm to have a chance of succeeding at beating 17 minutes for a 3 mile run?". Over to you Steve.

"The pace you need in order to run 3 miles in 17 mins is 5:40/mile. This is equivalent to 17:36 5K pace, which is no mean feat. 

In order to run fast you are going to have to get used to exactly that - running fast. You need a combination of speed and endurance. Depending on your starting point, I would take the approach of building base mileage first, taking 4-6 weeks to get used to running a minimum of 3 times a week of at least 3 or 4 miles each time. Once you have that base, you can start to introduce to at least one of your runs the cornerstone of faster running, what are usually referred to as ‘sessions’. These often consist of repetitions of the same shorter distance/time period efforts, but at a faster-than-normal pace with a set recovery (sometimes jogged) in between. 

You can do sessions on the flat, on a hill, on the track....there are loads of different ways to do it. The key is that you are loading your training in a different way than just running at a standard pace. You need to push the envelope of what seems a comfortable pace. These sessions are much easier when done with other people, which is an advantage of training with a running/athletics club. 

The reps should initially be short and the recoveries in between long and you should aim to be reasonably consistent through the session. As you get fitter, extend the rep length/shorten the recovery/increase the number of reps. 

Longer term, I would be building to a minimum of running 5 days a week. Build to two of these being the sessions described above. The introduction of a tempo session for one run would also be a good idea (this could be a parkrun) where you run harder than normal pace for a few miles, but slower than race-pace. 

A long run once a week is still useful, even when training for a shorter distance - maybe build up to 10 miles. Also you can supplement with one or two easy runs at ‘recovery pace’ - nice and relaxed, just to turn the legs over.".

Thank you Steve for giving me the advice that I'll turn into a structured training plan. Tune in to next week's blog where I'll be putting Steve's initial advice to the test and also talking about the main threats to the success of the #runsub17 project.