Running is often portrayed as one of the easiest sports. What can be easier than slipping on some shoes, going out the door and running?

Typically, the visions and dreams we had before our very first run were shattered within the first few hundred metres, where we found that our choice of pace, and expected distance were curtailed by a lack of basic fitness.

Although our expectations and ambitions were then confined by the limits of our physical ability, it didn’t take too many weeks or efforts for us to progress to the point where we could complete a reasonable distance or time of running, albeit at a pace that was somewhat slower than our initial dream generated vision.

Our experiences, even as a total novice, provide many important lessons including two basic principles that assist everyone, (even the most experienced runner) to prepare for your next race.


The most recognizable is the progression that comes from consistency:
Simply going out and doing a particular exercise on a regular basis results in greater efficiency and competency in that exercise. It is on this basis that most runners training to participate or compete in races will train between three and six days a week, and at least initially they will see measurable improvement.

There is nothing difficult or special about this training: Just going out and notching up the kilometres will improve performance, and there are some rules of thumb relating the distance to be raced to the total weekly training distance.

One such rule proposes that to be able to ‘race’ a 10km you need to cover around 22 km per week and to put a racing performance together in a 21km requires you to notch up 50km per week. To Race a marathon we need around 85-100km per week at peak times and a consistency around 50km per week

This is not to say that you can’t complete a 10km without amassing 22 kilometre a week, or that you must hit the half century for the half marathon, but if you want to put in a sustained and intense effort over the whole distance, (this is racing), these are the sort of figures you should regularly be achieving in peak training weeks.

These guidelines hold good for the standard distances ranging to the marathon, and even the shorter ultra-marathon distances, and the principle is a component of each of the schedules provided here.

Just completing this distance will up your performance, but the choice of the correct running pace, even in the long run, enhances the physiological benefits. This will be the topic of a later article.

Push the envelope:

The second founding principal that is sometimes overlooked from our novice experiences is that: (and this is IMPORTANT)
Our progression in those early months came from challenging just beyond our fitness boundaries in those run and walk sessions.
Those first lung-busting, heart-pounding experiences were undertaken with total misjudgment of our relationship between speed and distance.

Simply put: we ran too fast for the distance we intended to cover, so we were forced to stop or walk until we could regain composure sufficiently to allow us to run again. It is for this reason that most novice programmes adopt run and walk schedules.

The trend for novices is to train only three or four times a week, often alternating between days of effort and days of rest. This meant that there was recovery between sessions that over-stretched our initial physiological boundaries.
Unfortunately, as we became more proficient as a runner, the tendency was not only to increase the number of training days per week, but also to drop the intensity of all sessions simply so that we can generate a bigger weekly distance. In adopting this action the trend is to lose the ‘over-stretching’ run and walk sessions that were the main featured during our early days of running.

This debatably is one of our first training mistakes.
The training sessions that test and tease your current ability are the ones that provide the greatest progression as long as you have sufficient (active) recovery between sessions.

By relating the quality sessions to your current racing ability, the schedules provided for all distances in this web site will be geared to provide both the required distance to be able to be competitive, as well as the necessary quality sessions to ensure performance improvement.

Coming Soon – Free Training Programs for your next race:
A complete range of programmes for distances from 5km to Comrades and beyond will be available on this web site by August 2017.

These training schedules will cater for different levels of runners – from the absolute novice to advanced runners with target times from simply completing the chosen distance to achieving sub 45 minutes in 10km, 90 minutes for 21km or 3 hours for the marathon.

Importantly you can customize your training using the associated table that provides the pace / time required for a range of training sessions.


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