The Iron Age: For many years traditional training schedules have described workloads based around mileage and volume. “You can’t run a 10k unless you regularly run five miles every Sunday and you have got to run X amount miles a week at least”! These were the schedules from the Iron Age. I can hear them (the oldies who have run hundreds of races) telling you to do this at clubs up and down the country. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in hard work and building up the volume of miles we run at relaxed pace, threshold pace and even 10k/5k pace. The schedules of old told us how many of these miles to run.
The New Age: My question is: should we measure our running based on mileage when these days our lives are surrounded by technology and deadlines? Life is busier and we all chase time every day. You really can run a successful BM10k on just three runs a week if you are clever and the runs contain the key ingredients.
When you get your training plans, cherry pick the long runs, weekly threshold session and perhaps include one easy paced pre-breakfast recovery run.
Yes these three runs if progressed each week, can get you there! Any runs or sessions in addition to these three workouts are a bonus and completed because you have the time, the experience, recover well and crucially, are injury free.
If you are carrying a niggle, please see a physio ASAP and maybe cross train for a few days instead. You won’t lose fitness and your heart doesn’t know the difference between running or a static bike, aqua jogging or the elliptical trainer. Listen to your body and what it is telling you. If tired, have an easy day or rest. If sore, maybe cross train and get a massage.
Running really is all common sense, but the problem is there is nothing common about sense when it comes to being a runner! My life was once dominated by distance and mileage. My running often became the stress in my life, not the release and I am sure there were times when I wasn’t healthy.
Here is the problem. Your current schedule or the gremlin in your head says ‘run for four or five miles this Sunday’. For an athlete looking to run a successful 10k, it’s going to take over an if they keep it easy. I honestly believe the sub 60-minute athlete will be over tired and never achieve their full potential in training if they stick to chasing miles only. Training for a 10k shouldn’t be taken lightly, for the newbie runner it is a tough challenge, so don’t make it harder by chasing those miles…
Let’s make it simple. Your heart and energy stores don’t work to miles. They work to effort vs time. Let’s now move away from tradition and work to time and effort. Don’t worry if you ran five miles or not on a run. If you went out to run 60 mins at an easy pace and the run felt easy and controlled, that’s all that matters. It was a good run with objective achieved. If it felt hard, you were running too fast or are tired. Don’t chase the miles; learn to listen to your body and what it is telling you. We can then base our effort on perceived exertion as per my article last week when I spoke about “how should it feel”.
So all you now need is a stopwatch, energy and our BM10k schedule that tells you how hard to run and for how long. Your GPS can tell you the pace and then how many miles you did at the end, if you really want it to.
Share the stats on social media and keep a log online somewhere… now everybody is happy and entertained.
The only time you really need to think about your pace per mile or per km is when you train at your planned 10k race day pace. It makes sense to know what an 08:30 min miles feel like (if this is your race pace for the big day). It makes sense to practice this regularly and build the volume up, but it makes even more sense to know what it feels like! Know how your body feels.
Race day could be hot or very windy, the pace per mile won’t be relevant then; you will have to slow down and base your pace on perceived exertion or heart rate. Make life easy and run to time and feel, not miles. Don’t run five miles every Sunday and wonder why you’re feeling pretty exhausted from it . Aim to run 5-6 long runs that range between 45-60+ minutes in the 10 weeks building up to race day. Build these up sensibly, include easy weekends to recover and practice your 10k pace within them regularly.
Time vs effort really works and it’s the easy way forward. Good luck, Nick.