There are not shortcuts to training. You need base. You cannot skimp on strength and conditioning. Nutrition has to be on top. You have to sleep well and drink quality and sufficient amount of water during the day. Mobility and posture should be always emphasised. Not just while running !
There is no easy way out. You cannot train for a 10k in 6 weeks if you were a beginner. You can however pull something interesting together, if you did already 1 to 2 months of base with some intensities mixed in. You can if you had 1 2 3… years of improving seasons behind you. You sure cannot if just came back from an injury and want a shortcut to a race you already signed up for. In this case, just run and live with no watch just enjoy the process.
Also you must understand your own reaction to training stimuli. I like to mix in knowledge from different philosophies to plans. So to gain speed from one single workout, not to gain fitness, but to gain speed, a workout has to be ingrained into your brain ! That is about 10 days. You might be feeling recovered and ready to go in 2days, but to get the benefits of one particular workout, you need around 10 days. Also if we used the MAF method, depending on an athlete, speed gains can be maximised in 4 weeks top, then can be maintained. So some beginner or experienced runners might do 3 HIIT session in the 4 weeks, some might do 16. It depends on your resiliency, on your strengths, on so many things. Tapering then comes into the picture and much more, from nutrition periodisation, weight, auxiliary activities, lifestyle and more…
Here are the two VDOT charts from Jack Daniels running book, that you can use to determine your training times/paces:
Training plan outlined for N°58 / 36min 10km, after 2months of base
(Can be used for trail running too: use predicted race time to determine your training speeds !)
In my case it will be used for a 9km mixed trail race, with loads of fast road sections, turns, switchbacks, accelerations, long staircases up and down, a 1km steep road descent where pace might be sub 3min for the kilometre and so. I don’t need extreme pace, but tons of strength and high-end endurance.
First 2 weeks, speed base:
- 5 x 200 @ 0:38 ^200 jog
- 5 x 600 @ 1:55 ^600 jog
- 5 x 400 @ 1:17 ^400 jog
Long runs are 16km trail with D+500m gain. I might add 5 x 30sec downhill accelerations or 2 times 4min uphill low-tempo efforts. On this line. In-between runs are easy 4 to 6km runs focusing on posture, breathing, stride quality and cadence. No jogging around. Easy runs for me are done mostly on the track. For instance I run 20 laps on the track and each 200 I do 1min of athletic drills, finishing off with a 10 x 50 to 200 up-ladder. Not sprints ! My heart rate never goes over 135. Staying at base !
Week 3 – VO2 Base
- 4/5 x 1000 @ 3:28 ^3:00 jog
- 12 x 400 @ 1:23 ^0:45 jog
Long run stays at 16km trail with a moderate 10min non technical downhill effort. Inner runs might contain a 10min fartlek or a !!! low tempo !!! 30min uphill effort.
Week 4 – Tempo / Endurance base
- 4 x 10min @ mid-Tempo ^2:00 jog
- Kenyan Hills (1workout):
- 2 x 13min (6,5up + 6,5 down) ^2:00jog
- 2 x 2min (1up + 1down) ^2:00 jog
- 2 x 6min (3up + 3down)
Long run increases but splits up. 12k quality trail Am and 6k flat soft 15Pm. Day off with yoga and mobility after Kenyans !
Week 5 – Sharpening
- 7 x 400 @ 1:17 + 400jog
- ’10min ^2min’ + ‘5min ^2min’ + ‘3min’
- Effort based on perceived exertion. Not all out, but controlled uptempo, with the feeling of freshness at the end.
- ’10min ^2min’ + ‘5min ^2min’ + ‘3min’
Weekend long run is 12km and inner efforts are focused easy runs. No derailing, no speeding up. High cadence posture and running practice. No jogging around.
Race Week 6:
- Big warm up + 5min tempo at race pace on track + Big cooldown
- Wednesday 20 x 30/30 @ varying efforts (not all out but controlled)
Please learn about your body, about reactions to training and your health. Please read a little bit about periodisation. Why ? Because after some years, this will cause you no headaches after all.
For instance you had time or motivation to do only one interval session on Monday. You must decide, what is the more important. Getting in the long run at the weekend or following your training plan’s better focused blocks. I’d say, that in our case, it is a 10km, so going with the speed session is a way better option. It will be 5 or 6days away from your first HIIT set. You’ll recover better as the weekend you’ll sleep better, longer, deeper. You never know, that Monday and Tuesday, you might be able to include a shorter, but doubled up long run, Wednesday take a day off and Thursday you’ll new speed session will be on a different level ! Most people actually do better on a 10 days periodisation or a weekly, but Wednesday to Tuesday week, instead of a Monday to Sunday one. When a hard work day comes in, an interval session can rip you apart and make the focus impossible. An early morning long run, is way less dangerous in case of injury, but it also put you into a dull but still able to handle state and can work afterwards. Don’t forget, that we talk about a 10k case. Running 2 x 18km tempo for a marathon build up is a different beast, than a 12km focused aerobic run.
The goal of all training sessions is mastery. In the sprint world up to 800m races, we use a terminology: run ugly. When you want to feel a certain high-end pace, just run ugly. Let go everything and leave your body alone to make it find its own way towards that speed.
Here, it is the contrary. The focus is never to let go. If you cannot stay head high, cadence topped up, breathing controlled, leant from the ankles, arms working by your side, you slow down. Running 1:18.50 instead of 1:17 for 400s is no big deal. However running 3 times 1:17 then dropping to 1:19 and 1:20 is a problem !
Also, bailing ou a workout is natural and very important. There is always another day. You might be in the 5th rep of a routine out of 10 and you’d say, it is too hard today. Get in two nights of excellent sleep. Dial in your nutrition and come back. Done ! Maybe ask a friend to pace you or use group dynamics to pull you towards your times.
The mental edge, the resilience, the cerebral imprinting you get, will come back on race day. Practicing breaking down is no-go. Staying strong is better. You might decrease slightly your extreme high-end, but only for a while. At least on race day, you’ll be sure that breaking down is not an option. Finishing strong and using the race as a stepping stone towards a higher level is ! Like in a RPG or in boxing. Loosing to someone much stronger will never improve you. Keeping up nearly with someone just slightly better, will upgrade you !
It will also enhance the efficacy of your season. Less injuries, less problems, less recovery. The more you can train specifically, the more you gain. Don’t forget the 10000hour rule ! 10000 hours of specific training will bring you to excellence.
I had a concurrent runner in an opposing club. He stuck to the development and passed by me like a rocket. In 2011 we were on the same level. 35-36 for a 10km and 3:00 / 3:10 for the marathon. He continued racing everything he liked with very slowly improving competition results, however his specific training was predicting a fantastic boom longterm. Every year he cut off a couple of minutes here and there. 2018 he is at 32:10 for the 10km and 2:26 for the marathon. If he wanted and chose his races well, he could go pro. It is not super-fast to win big city marathons and get 100.000 usd sponsorships. But he does cycling and ultramarathons too, so he easily transfers his skills to urban trail series, off-road duathlons or very rocky trail running events, where technical abilities are also crucial near speed and endurance.
Imagine, that after a trail race of 1h , there is a 3km 3% road downhill. The leader runners would be running at 4:20/km pace. He is able pull off that 3km at 3:15/km anytime and win ! He does it very often.
These are the runners, when the tough gets going, will be out front. Keep up the focused work and you’ll over come.