In January I drew up and publicly committed to a training plan, to help instill more structure and therefore further improvements in my running and cycling.
So what happened? Did I stick to the plan? Have I risen to glory or gone down in flames?
Performance against the plan
After lots of research I drew up the plan over Christmas, trying to find a balance between quality training on both the bike and out running. I printed it out and stuck it up on my fridge, so I knew what I was doing and when. Then as each session was completed, I used a sharpie to note what I’d done, which you’ll see from the image below.
By and large I’ve managed to get the running sessions in without much issue and I have seen the benefits from it. In March four colleagues and I will be taking on Vertical Rush in aid of Shelter, an epic stair climbing challenge, and as such we’ve started running two nights a week after work. Due to everyone’s availability, we’ve set it up so Tuesday evening is a interval / hill session and Thursday’s are a longer run at a comfortable pace (5 – 6 miles at 9:30m/m). Running in a group has been a real positive change for me, it’s a great motivator and it’s nice to be able to do something I love with other people and get to know them better.
As with life, every Ying has its Yang, and while the runs have been improving my long rides have suffered and I just haven’t been achieving the mileage on the bike that I need to be. I think we can all appreciate sometimes life just gets in the way – we all live with conflicting priorities and have to adjust and be flexible to them. The adventure bus breaking down and various attempts to get back on the dating scene have has meant I’ve lost the time to invest in the 50+ mile bike rides. I’m still getting two turbo sessions in a week, using TrainerRoad, which is not a bad thing as these sessions are designed to be high intensity and therefore provide some of the aerobic work I need.
Every day’s a school day in my opinion and in order to get better we have to have some time to reflect, learn the lessons and move on positively. So with a view to getting back on track with the cycling and upping the time and mileage covered in February, I discussed my Training Plan with James Waldie of Active Edinburgh;
What is the best way to up my mileage without burning myself out?
You’ve built your plan on the basis of a month, which is good. I always recommend people work on a 4 week cycle of mileage, where every 4th week is a recovery week. This allows the mind and body to recover – it’s impossible for the body to keep increasing effort and mileage week on week. So for you, you might think about February as follows – Week 1 – 6hrs training, Week 2 – 6.5hrs training, Week 3 – 7hrs training, Week 4 – 4hrs training and then for Week 1 of March you’d go again, but with a bit more – Week 1 – 6.5hrs.
You mention recovery in there, I’m not doing ‘Recovery Runs’ at the moment as I’m not really sure how best to approach this
Recovery is key, I can’t state that enough. You’ve got 2 days allowed for in your plan which is good, outside of that you can do recovery runs. Recovery runs must be easy, too many runners do these too fast and don’t recover sufficiently, which only leads to cumulative fatigue and injury. Recovery runs should be 1 – 2 minutes slower than your race pace, running at a conversational pace – otherwise you defeat the purpose of the workout, which is to give you the balance between training stress and running volume.
How can I make the most of intervals during my road runs, I’m struggling with how to measure the effort as I don’t have access to a running track
You’ve said you want to run faster, you’ve got a Half Marathon goal in mind and want to get down to 1:30 – to do that you’ve got to run at faster than your race pace. For this kind of distance you should be running reps of between 1 and 4 minutes i.e. 5 x 3 minute efforts with 1 minute recovery in between.
Any other top tips?
Get off road! It’ll really help with your recovery and injury prevention, particularly if your upping your mileage and doing intervals, plus it’s more fun!
Looking forward to February
Going in to February I am feeling really strong with my running, my form and my times are improving. I’m comfortably running my longer runs at a higher pace than I ever have done, so January has been a huge confidence boost and as such so I’m feeling good about Wokingham Half Marathon on the 18th.
Taking on what I’ve learnt I’ve redrawn the Training Plan to try and help ensure I have the time to get those important long rides in – lots of cycling challenges this year. Although my short break in New York and running a Half Marathon are going to throw things around a little bit.
Find out more
Active Edinburgh was established on three clear objectives
- making the outdoors more accessible
- providing expert fitness training
- enabling clients to take ownership of their fitness
James is an active runner, having run for Scotland five times as a junior and twice as a senior, winning the Scottish u-23 Hill Running Championships four out of five years he competed, and is a Personal Trainer supporting a number of athletes over the past 18 months.