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Running Series: Article Two

The Power of Consistency

Written by Vitality Clinician and Physiologist Jamie Monk
With the preliminary phase of the training journey complete, expecting to be firmly en route to achieving 10k glory may be a little presumptuous and optimistic! Running is most definitely not a sport of instant gratification; hence the emphasis on consistency. Regardless of whether you’ve cruised your way through every session, or struggled to realise your full potential, we are now entering the most crucial phase of training. It is now when the fundamental traits of dedication and resilience are developed. Overcoming the associated challenges and establishing a consistent training regime could be the difference between achieving your goal, and falling short.
Understanding your Training Sessions
Identified within last month’s article were three specific types of running workouts, each aimed at eliciting a distinct physiological response. Detailed below is an understanding of how each of the sessions will affect your physiology and consequently lead to enhanced performance.

Red-Lining Threshold Runs:
As established in the previous edition of the running series article, the lactate threshold represents the most accurate predictor of distance-running performance. The 10k race will be run at threshold pace, making it a vital component for determining performance. The purpose of the red-lining threshold sessions is to increase the speed at which lactate accumulates and acidosis occurs (remember that nasty burning sensation). This will enable you to work at a higher percentage of V̇O2max for a prolonged period of time, and delay the reliance upon non-oxygen dependent systems. This will ultimately delay the point at which fatigue occurs.
Tempo Runs:
From milers to marathoners, tempo runs are ubiquitous. Similar to above, the aim of the tempo run is to improve your body’s efficiency of clearing blood lactate. The sustained effort associated with tempo runs will train your body to tolerate the constantly elevated blood lactate levels as well as utilising the by-products of metabolism more effectively. Not only will these sessions improve your speed and stamina, there is also a significant psychological aspect. Tempo workouts will prepare your mind to manage your emotions, and test your resilience when discomfort persists.
Interval Runs:
Runners seeking to maximise their 10k potential should adopt some form of interval training. The primary aim of interval training is to increase your V̇O2max and anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold is essentially the breakpoint at which energy demands required to maintain exercise intensity utilising aerobic means alone is surpassed. Despite breathing heavier and deeper, the body’s aptitude to cope with the demands is diminished, and requires input from the anaerobic (anaerobic meaning without oxygen) systems. A higher anaerobic threshold is concomitant with a higher V̇O2max due to a higher tolerance to blood lactate. Ultimately, by elevating your maximum capacity, the relative percentage that you will be working at for your longer, slower runs is decreased. Alongside the cardiovascular adaptations, running at higher speeds will recruit and encourage greater muscle activation, leading to improved running economy and efficiency.

The understanding of relativity is important. As your fitness levels and intensity of training increases, every session will feel as hard as the last. This doesn’t mean you aren’t improving. The effort level remains unchanged, but you will be getting quicker and stronger. This is the focus for the next phase of training.

Training Programmes

40-Minute Training Programme
Red-Lining Threshold Run   Tempo Run Interval Run 
 Week 1 6 minutes at 4mins:00secs per km (15.0km/h), followed by 4 minutes at 4mins:09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 4 times, total time = 40 minutes. 40 minute session. Initial 5 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 30 minutes, aim for 04:10mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 17km/h (03:30mins/km), followed by 15 seconds rest. Repeat running intervals 15 times. Important to include a vigorous warm-up and cool-down pre and post session.
 Week 2 5 minutes at 3mins54secs per km (15.4km/h), followed by 3 minutes at 4mins09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 40 minutes. 35 minute session. First 5 minutes at an effort level of 5/10, the next 30 minutes at an effort level of 8-9/10. Aim for a consistent sustained pace. 1km intervals at 03:20mins/km (18km/h). Complete 6-8 times with 2-3 minutes rest between each. 
 Week 3 4 minutes at 3mins:51 secs per km (15.6km/h), 2 minutes at 4mins09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 30 minutes. 35 minute session. First 5 minutes warm-up pace, followed by 10 minutes at 7/10 effort level, then increase pace to an effort level of 8/10 for the next 10 minutes, and complete the final 10 minutes as quickly as possible. 90 seconds high intensity effort (approximately 19km/h) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 10 times.
 Week 4 3 minutes at 3mins:48secs per km (15km/h), 1 minutes at 4mins:09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 8 times, total time = 32 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 40 minutes constant effort, attempting to run as far as possible in the time. Do not use tracking device to determine pace, use effort perception as a gauge for intensity. 60 seconds at 20km/h (03:00mins/km), followed by 60 seconds rest. Complete intervals 12 times.
50-Minute Training Programme
   Red-Lining Threshold Run Tempo Run  Interval Run 
 Week 1 6 minutes at 5mins:00secs per km (12.0km/h), followed by 4 minutes at 5mins:13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 50 minutes. 40 minute session. Initial 5 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 35 minutes, aim for 05:10mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 13.6km/h (04:25mins/km), followed by 15 seconds rest. Repeat running intervals 15 times. Important to include a vigorous warm-up and cool-down pre and post session.
 Week 2 5 minutes at 4mins50secs per km (12.4km/h), followed by 3 minutes at 5mins13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 48 minutes. 35 minute session. First 5 minutes at an effort level of 5/10, the next 30 minutes at an effort level of 8-9/10. Aim for a consistent sustained pace. 1km intervals at 04:20mins/km (13.9km/h). Complete 6-8 times with 2-3 minutes rest between each.
 Week 3 4 minutes at 4mins:40 secs per km (12.9km/h), 2 minutes at 5mins13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 36 minutes. 35 minute session. First 5 minutes warm-up pace, followed by 10 minutes at 7/10 effort level, then increase pace to an effort level of 8/10 for the next 10 minutes, and complete the final 10 minutes as quickly as possible. 90 seconds high intensity effort (approximately 15km/h) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 10 times.
 Week 4 3 minutes at 4mins:30secs per km (13.3km/h), 1 minutes at 5mins:13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 10 times, total time = 40 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 45 minutes constant effort, attempting to run as far as possible in the time. Do not use tracking device to determine pace, use effort perception as a gauge for intensity. 60 seconds at 16.5km/h (03:38mins/km), followed by 60 seconds rest. Complete intervals 12 times. 
60-Minute Training Programme
  Red-Lining Threshold Run   Tempo Run Interval Run 
Week 1  6 minutes at 6mins:00secs per km (10.0km/h), followed by 4 minutes at 6mins:13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 50 minutes. 45 minute session. Initial 10 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 35 minutes, aim for 04:10mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 11.1km/h (05:25mins/km), followed by 15 seconds rest. Repeat running intervals 15 times. Important to include a vigorous warm-up and cool-down pre and post session.
 Week 2 5 minutes at 5mins50secs per km (10.3km/h), followed by 3 minutes at 6mins13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 48 minutes. 45 minute session. First 5 minutes at an effort level of 5/10, the next 40 minutes at an effort level of 8-9/10. Aim for a consistent sustained pace. 1km intervals at 05:20mins/km (11.3km/h). Complete 6-8 times with 2-3 minutes rest between each. 
 Week 3 4 minutes at 5mins:40 secs per km (10.6km/h), 2 minutes at 6mins13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 36 minutes. 35 minute session. First 5 minutes warm-up pace, followed by 10 minutes at 7/10 effort level, then increase pace to an effort level of 8/10 for the next 10 minutes, and complete the final 10 minutes as quickly as possible. 90 seconds high intensity effort (approximately 13.5km/h, 04:25mins/km) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 10 times.
 Week 4 3 minutes at 5mins:30secs per km (10.9km/h), 1 minutes at 6mins:13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 8 times, total time = 32 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 50 minutes constant effort, attempting to run as far as possible in the time. Do not use tracking device to determine pace, use effort perception as a gauge for intensity. 60 seconds at 15km/h (04:00mins/km), followed by 60 seconds rest. Complete intervals 12 times.

Musculoskeletal Health: Injury Prevention
When summer arrives, and bare legs reign, it’s easy to spot the runners. They’re the ones with skinny thighs, and bulging calf muscles who have often neglected all other forms of strength training. Running is pure and simple. If you want to get really good at something, you just keep doing it, right? In some disciplines with a high skill requirement, of course practice makes perfect. However, dedicating every minute to pounding the pavements isn’t the most effective way to improve.

Nothing inhibits an enjoyable run like pain. Pain can be acute and entirely debilitating, or start as a slight annoyance, and gradually progress into a chronic injury. As training intensifies during this phase, the repetitive excess strain on the muscles and bones is increased, and consequently, so is the likelihood of injury. 

As the title suggests, consistency is critical. While it’s impossible to completely protect yourself from injury, being proactive with the addition of a few simple strengthening exercises and paying attention to your body will significantly enhance your ability to maintain regular training. The following exercises are targeted at tackling the main culprits for causing injury: muscle imbalances, mobility impairment and weakness in the core.
  1. Squat to overhead press
  2. Single-leg glute bridge
  3. Reverse lunge
  4. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
  5. Box step-ups
  6. Back extensions
  7. Plank
  8. Russian Twist

Tip of the Month:
Surprisingly, and as much as brands may advertise, there is no such thing as the best running shoe in the world. Naturally, there are many variables which will determine the appropriate trainer for you. Everyone is unique, and has different attributes and requirements as a runner. The definitive way to ensure you are selecting the correct shoe for you is to have your running gait analysed. The experts at Runners Need will be able to assist you in understanding the type of runner you are, and the level of support you require. Double bonus, by merely being a Vitality member, you will receive 50% off a pair of trainers at Runners Need.