The bitesize progressive run

Running summary for w/c 13th August
Miles: 25.7
Cross training: Bike in the gym, and an actual bike on the road.

I’ve found a good rhythm with my workouts. I’ve been mixing them up to appease my short attention span, and have been listening to my body, having a recovery day on the bike and a recovery day on my arse following a gruelling 9 mile HILLY run.

I had 6 active days: 2 lunchtime interval sessions, 1 hard 5K, 1 as-steady-as-I-could-manage 9-miler, 1 free weights gym session, 1 lovely long Sunday jog around the Serpentine and to the Thames, and a bike day. It was fun. I’m planning a similar pattern this week, but want to know how to get the best out of my lunchtime interval sessions. I’ve read a lot of articles and tried quite a few out over the months, but they’re all very similar: run for 800m, recover for 200… run for 4 minutes, recover for 2… It’s not that they’re not good sessions – they’re tried and tested – they’re just getting a bit monotonous.

So I did what any curious runner would do: I put a call out on Twitter for suggestions from fellow e-joggers.

And I got some good suggestions. Lazy Girl Running (who writes a smashing blog here) suggested a progressive run, increasing the speed every 1-2 minutes, holding my maximum speed for 2 minutes and then gradually decreasing pace to finish. I was a little unsure what paces to begin and end at for an optimum workout though, so I googled it.

Most articles suggest starting at marathon pace and building to 10K pace. One particular article refers to ‘improving your lactate turn point’, which I think is the same as increasing your lactate threshold, which means increasing how hard you can work (either speed or distance) before you body goes through all of the biochemical processes of fatigue. That’s what I want to do.

But I’m still unsure though if I should work at my current specified pace (in this case 10K pace), or my goal pace. So I googled that too (are you enjoying this insight into how I research training sessions?).

I found this insight by Pete Pfitzinger:

“These workouts make you run hard enough that lactate is just starting to accumulate in your blood. When you train at a lower intensity, a weaker stimulus is provided to improve your lactate threshold pace. When you train faster than current lactate threshold pace, you’ll accumulate lactate rapidly, so you won’t be training your muscles to work hard without accumulating lactate. During these workouts, the more time that you spend at your lactate threshold pace, the greater the stimulus for improvement.

Lactate threshold training should be run at close to the pace that you could currently race for one hour. For serious marathoners, this is generally 15K to 20K race pace. This should be the intensity at which lactate is just starting to accumulate in your muscles and blood. In terms of heart rate, lactate threshold typically occurs at 80 to 90 percent of maximal heart rate, or 76 to 88 percent of heart rate reserve in well-trained runners.”

So the verdict was in: a progressive run, up and then down again, starting at a 10min/mile jog and peaking at my current 10K pace of 8:30min/mile. It felt very, very different to my usual treadmill sessions where I run at 5K pace (8min/mile), walk recoveries, and gasp for air. The most noticeable difference was that my lungs didn’t quite feel like they were going to burst. It was tough, but not unbearably. It felt good. And I definitely got a lesson in running on fatigued legs too!

I liked this session a lot. Other sessions suggested via Twitter were more familiar interval sessions. I’m going to give those a try over the next couple of weeks too, but I think the progressive run will be making a reappearance in my weekly schedule. Thanks tweeters!

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