Skip to Content

Running Series: Article Three

The Last Stretch

Written by Vitality Clinician and Physiologist Jamie Monk
As we enter the third and final phase of training, any mention of an endurance athlete from this point onwards is officially referring to you! Endurance training evokes an array of physiological adaptations within the muscle which enables your body to perform at a higher level over a sustained period of time. Before you read on, you might want to recap the advice and training so far in Article One: The Road to 10k Success and Article Two: The Power of Consistency.

Physiological Adaptations and Optimal Performance

An increase in the density of mitochondria within the muscle cells is associated with endurance training. Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouses” of the cells and are responsible for transforming the sugars, fats and proteins that we consume, into forms of chemical energy.

Alongside that, there will be a number of cardiovascular changes inhibited. These include an expansion of the muscle capillary network, resulting in an enhanced aptitude to supply blood and oxygen to the muscles whilst removing waste products during intense exercise. In addition to this, there will likely be an increased haemoglobin content and total blood volume elicited. Haemoglobin is the oxygen-transporting protein of red blood cells. This enhanced oxygen carrying capacity combined with an increased volume of blood will increase the aerobic capacity of your muscle fibres, making them more efficient at processing and extracting oxygen from the blood. Ultimately, this will lead to a delayed onset of fatigue and an ability to permit running at a greater pace over a prolonged period. 

There are also metabolic changes which occur following endurance training. The slower rate of glycogen and blood glucose use may also contribute to an elevated exercise capacity. The majority of carbohydrates ingested through food consumption are converted into glucose and utilised by the body as the primary source of energy. Any excess glucose not required for bodily function is stored in the form of glycogen. During intense exercise such as 10,000m running, circulating glucose levels will become depleted. In reaction to this, an enzyme will initiate the breaking down of glycogen to supply the body with additional glucose. As a result of training, the muscle will become more efficient and is able to consume glucose more sparingly. Similar to above, the effect of this will also be a delay in the onset of fatigue.

Now that you have established a solid foundation, the final phase of training will focus on speed intensity and maintaining pace over near-to race distance. The power of mental resilience will be strained and should never be undervalued. If these sessions have you feeling like you’re working at the limit of your physical capacity, your psychological strength will be relied upon to get you over the line.

Training Programmes

  Red-Lining Threshold Run  Tempo Run  Interval Run 
Week 1  6 minutes at 3mins:54secs per km (15.4km/h), followed by 3 minutes at 4mins:09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 4 times, total time = 36 minutes. 40 minute session. Initial 5 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 30 minutes, aim for 04:05mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 17.5km/h (03:25mins/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 3mins54secs per km (15.4km/h), followed by 2 minutes at 4mins09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 35 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 03:15mins/km (18.5km/h). Complete 6 times with 3 minutes rest between each. 
Week 3 4 minutes at 3mins:51 secs per km (15.6km/h), 1 minutes at 4mins09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 25 minutes.  30 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 5 minutes as quickly as possible. 90 seconds high intensity effort (approximately 19.5km/h) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 6-8 times.
Week 4
Race Week
3 minutes at 3mins:48secs per km (15.8km/h), 1 minutes at 4mins:09secs per km (14.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 20 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 25 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. Race Day
10,000m <39mins:59secs.
Average pace <4mins:00secs per km (15km/h). 
  Red-Lining Threshold Run   Tempo Run Interval Run 
Week 1  6 minutes at 5mins:00secs per km (12.0km/h), followed by 2 minutes at 5mins:13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 48 minutes. 45 minute session. Initial 5 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 35 minutes, aim for 05:00mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 14.4km/h (04:10mins/km), followed by 15 seconds rest. Repeat running intervals 12 times. Important to include a vigorous warm-up and cool-down pre and post session.
Week 2 6 minutes at 4mins50secs per km (12.4km/h), followed by 2 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 (15.0km/h). Complete 6 times with 2-3 minutes rest between each. 
Week 3 4 minutes at 4mins:40 secs per km (12.9km/h), 1 minute at 5mins13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 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 16km/h) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 8 times.
Week 4
Race Week
4 minutes at 4mins:30secs per km (13.3km/h), 1 minutes at 5mins:13secs per km (11.5km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 25 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 35 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. Race Day
10,000m <49mins:59secs.
Average pace <5mins:00secs per km (12km/h).
  Red-Lining Threshold Run   Tempo Run  Interval Run
Week 1  8 minutes at 6mins:00secs per km (10.0km/h), followed by 2 minutes at 6mins:13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 5 times, total time = 50 minutes. 50 minute session. Initial 10 minutes relatively comfortable, building to an 8/10 effort level for the next 35 minutes, aim for 06:10mins/km, with a 5 minute comfortable pace to finish. 45 seconds at 12km/h (05:00mins/km), followed by 45 seconds rest. Repeat running intervals 10-12 times. Important to include a vigorous warm-up and cool-down pre and post session.
Week 2 4 minutes at 5mins50secs per km (10.3km/h), followed by 1 minutes at 6mins13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 8 times, total time = 40 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 05:10mins/km (11.6km/h). Complete 6 times with 2-3 minutes rest between each. 
Week 3 4 minutes at 5mins:40 secs per km (10.6km/h), 1 minute at 6mins13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 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 14.1km/h, 04:15mins/km) followed by 90 seconds walking or complete rest. Complete running intervals 8 times.
Week 4
Race Week
3 minutes at 5mins:30secs per km (10.9km/h), 1 minutes at 6mins:13secs per km (9.7km/h). Repeat both speeds 6 times, total time = 24 minutes. Ensure fully warmed-up prior. 35 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. Race Day
10,000m <59mins:59secs.
Average pace <6mins:00secs per km (10km/h).

Musculoskeletal Health – Warm-Up
Dynamic warm-up routines elevate the temperature within your body and muscles. As a result, your muscle viscosity will decrease, resulting in a faster muscle contraction and relaxation, permitting you to perform at a higher intensity. In addition, an extensive warm-up has also been proven to minimise the risk of injury. Dynamic movements increase tissue and muscle flexibility, reducing the risk of muscles tearing. Due to the repetitive nature of running, a combination of strength, stability and flexibility should be taken into consideration when constructing an effective warm-up routine. Follow the simple tips below:
  • Begin your warm-up with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic jogging to loosen the muscles and joints.
  • Start the warm-up steadily and gradually increase intensity working up towards a race pace finish.
  • Walking lunges, jumping jack, high knees, heel kicks, A skips and B skips are all effective, running specific strengthening drills which will prepare you for the start of your run.
  • Once you have completed your warm-up, allow 5-10 minutes recovery time. The effects of your warm-up will not be lost during this period, and it will guarantee you are fresh for the start of the race.

Tip of the Month:
It’s the morning of the race, at this moment, I expect there’s many things running (pun intended) through your head. Amongst all of this, you’re probably completely baffled as to how you still need to visit the bathroom for what feels like the 50,000th time!? Let’s not worry about that. Pre-event nerves are only a sign you care, the pressure is a privilege. Besides, on this occasion, lighter is always better…

Nonetheless, your morning routine is essential to ensure you are both physically and psychologically equipped to conquer the challenge ahead. Prepare yourself for an early rise, arriving to the race on time is late. As everyone knows, you can’t out train a bad diet, so a hearty breakfast is key. Consuming a cocktail of copious amounts of porridge oats, covered with coconut milk, a solid dollop of peanut butter, strawberry jam, a chunk of dark chocolate garnished with a smattering of blueberries is guaranteed peak performance nutrition.

Finally and most importantly, don’t be scared to enjoy yourself. There is a very high likelihood that you will have a great time. You’ll meet lots of new people, and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment at the finish. You’ve earnt that feeling of being a hero for the day.

Time to Perform
The making of a champion isn’t defined by the number of trophies lifted or medals exhibited in a cabinet, it’s about having the right mind-set. Belief is essential. Believing you can achieve whatever it is you put your mind to. Believing you can overcome any obstacle or setback. With the right guidance, everyone is capable of having a champion’s mind-set. Absence of this will only lead to failure when things get tough, no matter what you are striving to achieve.

Sport and exercise instils the fundamental values of discipline, commitment, hard-work, dedication and resilience. It has the potential to teach more than any conventional schooling could. Whilst people may give up on goals or targets, coaches will always encourage to never give up.