Tag Archives: easy runs

4 Week Running Plan: How I Set Training

How do you plan the first four weeks of training after you’ve had a long break from running?

This post will take you through my plan.

4 Week Running Plan

To start out with I’m working in four week blocks. The reason for 4 week blocks it tends to match my work schedule. You could do it in 3 or 4 weeks or even as a month. Something around that range would work. I’d say you need least three weeks to get an idea of whether or not the training program is working. Training takes a bit of patience as you don’t see the results straightaway.

I set up a four week grid:

  • days of the week across the top
  • weeks down the side
4 week training template

Key Runs: Intervals

Start with the main key sessions for this cycle. I’m using interval sessions. These begin with intervals 3 x 4 minutes as the set. Then I’m going to repeat this about every four days. They might jump out to 5 or 6 days depending on how my body reacts.

After a second 3 x 4 minutes interval run I hope to be able to increase the volume. I’ll do that by adding another 4 minute interval. Then in the 3rd week I’ll try to add another interval. Making for 5 x 4 minutes. I’m not sure how my body will take it. I might still be stuck at 4 x 4 minutes. This is the plan if everything goes as expected.

The goal during these intervals runs is to be able to run hard, but maintain the same speed throughout the first interval as well as the last. Of course hard still means hard.

Intervals plan

Long Runs

Next up we’re gonna a secondary key session. That is the long run.

We’ll space it out away from the intervals a little bit so it’s gonna be 2 days after the intervals and 2 days before interval sessions. We’ll be starting at 60 minutes. After 2 runs we’ll extend out by 10 minutes to 70 minutes. Repeat again 4 days later. Beyond that I aim for another 10 minute increase to 80 minutes in the final week.

In the 4th week I want a bit of a break from the higher intensity work. Give the body a chance to recover. A chance to absorb the training and make the adaptations that are needed. If things go to plan two days after that 80min long run I may get in a 90-minute run there.

At the moment long is a relative concept. The long run is mindset at the moment. That mindset is to keep moving in a way that’s sustainable all the time. The long runs are guided by time and effort. That effort is easy.

Long run in the running plan

Easy Runs

Between all these key runs there is one thing left to do. Fill in the gaps. These gaps are easy runs. I’m going to make the first easy run up to a maximum of 60 minutes. Anything shorter is fine. Just fill in all the gaps over the next week Same again for the 3rd and 4th weeks.

We’re keeping the pace way down. So easy it should allow me to be fresh to push the pace on the intervals. It should allow accumulation of run volume relative to what I have been doing.

Why so slow?

Ironically it’s so I can do more and go harder. This comes back to polarized training. Make your easy, easy. Make your hard, hard.

Overtime that slow pace gets faster. You just need patience.

Easy runs

Strides

There’s one more part to these easy runs.

Strides, run throughs, striders, easy sprints or pick ups. Call them whatever you want. Basically they just some short sprints. About 10 seconds to a max 15 seconds where you are sprinting below maximum effort.

Don’t over complicate things. Don’t worry too much about rest. It could be anything from like 30 seconds, a walk back recovery, you can space it out by five six minutes or anything in between. If you start feeling the burn in your legs you’re running too long and too much. This isn’t about fighting through fatigue.

Strength Training

One more element that fits in this is strength training.

I’m aiming to put them on the same day as the interval session. For first week,

I was lucky enough to go away on holiday for the first week. Down at beach I didn’t have the usual access to the weights I do at home. So I used more body weight work. These sessions were a bit lighter, so I was able to fit 3 in for the first week.

Back at home hitting the weights the load was actually a fair bit bigger. Strength training comes back on the interval days and that’s the plan for the remainder. In the fourth week we don’t have any interval sessions so I’m going to put a strength session after that long run. If I’m going to push the distance out to 90 minutes on that Friday a moderate strength session on the day afterwards on the Saturday will be the plan.

4 Week Running and Strength Plan

Extra Tips

Keep your easy, easy. You’ll get more from accumulating some volume at this stage than you will from pushing the paces too much. Staying easy on your easy and long runs you should be able to run faster and harder in the interval sessions.

If you’re not going to run every day, put more time in between the interval sessions. At this point you want the interval sessions about once after every three or four easier more aerobic base type running so if you’re running five times a week that’s probably going to be one interval session every week.

Remember these long runs aren’t really pushing the distance out-crazy. Overall the workload is going to be fairly even throughout. Just gradually pushing out the envelope a little.

Redefine Your Easy: Not Just Slow Running

The body is inherently lazy. It is clever in finding ways to have you take the easy way out. When training towards big goals we need to get past this. Check your base point of training and redefine your easy.

Defining Easy

Easy is a relevant concept. I’ve written about the power of easy runs before. Those concepts still hold true. There are different ways to make runs easy. Easy may be faster than we think.

Most easy runs will occur while recovering from a harder run. Either a long run or a set of intervals. So it would be normal to expect to feel sore or heavy in the legs. Perceived exertion may be significantly higher than the intensity truly is.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

Is this really a problem?

It is when it pulls you away from an efficient running technique.

This leads to a challenge.

After running for many years it pays to check your habits every so often. I had fallen into the habit of making my easy runs so easy they almost no longer resembled running. Instead they had become better described as a shuffle. Too far removed from the technique I was aiming for.

How do you keep the run easy while raising the intensity to ensure better technique?

The answer is to remember intensity isn’t the only variable to determine the difficulty of a run. Keeping an easy run relatively short can allow you to up the intensity a little bit more.

My Approach

Most of my easy runs were between 8-15km. In these I kept the intensity very low. While the movement at a low intensity aided I the recovery from harder runs, it was taking away from my technique.

Now I focus on technique during my easy runs. Ensuring proper knee lift, good leg extension and push off all the way through the toes. This raises the heart and breathing rates more. I am accepting this as long as I’m not reaching my anaerobic threshold and accumulating lactic acid. To keep the run still within the easy range I am dropping the distance down to between 5-10km. The shorter distance stops the run from taking away from the next of training.

The Results

The faster running and more complete technique is a little more difficult. They highlight where I am sore from previous hard training. Here the body and brain attempt to kick in the lazy habits. More concentration is now needed to override the inherent laziness.

On the plus side I am finding I feel fresher going into the harder runs. Faster running is feeling a bit more natural and dare I say it… easier.

How do you approach your easy runs?

Let me know


Make Running Add To Life: Training Log

Running shouldn’t get in the way of life. It has recently for me. This impacts others. I have changed my approach to make running add to life instead. Let’s see if it works.

 

Last week went a little something life this:

  • 10km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Regeneration

Total 52km

 

Easy

 

The majority of my runs are listed as easy. This doesn’t mean they are all a slow jog. It is more about the feeling and recovery cost needed. I aim for the run to feel comfortable and natural. Doing what is required to keep my technique on point. Speed and intensity are a byproduct of this. Recovery cost should be low. A good guide is to be able to able to repeat the same quality of run the following day.

 

Never underestimate The Power Of Easy Runs.

 

Strength

 

The tighter structure and scheduling on my strength training has felt good. Reinvigorating my enthusiasm for this aspect of training. No longer just whenever I feel I can fit it in. Giving away a few running kilometres means I am getting more strength work done. Because of the structure it is also taking less time over the week.

 

For the details check out Basic Strength Training For Running.

 

 

Make Running Add To Life

 

All habits perceived as healthy can become unhealthy. Chasing the extreme or wrong reasons can take you there. Every so often it pays to check you are running for the right reasons.

 

Checking in on my own reasons I had to make adjustments. It isn’t dedication if it’s easier to run than to sort your other stuff out. There is addiction to the runner’s high and clearance of mind. I’ve chased it too far lately. Time to bring it back to a level to make running add to life.

 

Runner Chats recorded an amazing podcast with Simone Brick. Covering many topics, but delving into running as healthy versus unhealthy. Definitely worth a listen.

The Power Of Easy Runs

Why is it so hard to get easy runs right?

 

Attention always goes to the high flyers. The threshold runs, the VO2max intervals, the long runs, the hill repeats, they hog the limelight. What about the easy run?

 

Is it too basic? Too run-of-the-mill? We do more of these easy runs than any other type.

 

Since it is the most common type of run we do, shouldn’t we pay it some respect?

 

The easy run is subtle, but it packs a massive amount of power. That power builds up over time when combined with consistency. It provides the support to launch your hard training. On a smaller scale, the easy run has the power to influence your next hard session. It can help you be ready for it, or it can take away from your performance.

 

I’ve made the mistakes on easy runs. The number one mistake is pushing too hard and fast. It is all too easy to go too hard. Over the years I’ve experimented with different approaches. I’ve let my ego get in the way plenty of times. Not everything has worked, but some has. Now I’m back to chasing some big and challenging goals. To reach them I have to get a lot right in my training. One of the biggest influences on this are the easy runs.

 

Time to share what works.

We do more easy runs than any other type of run

 

 

Setting The Base With Easy Runs

 

When a long way out from a race and trying to develop a simple to base fitness, most of the runs will fall in the easy category. At this time the easy runs are relatively harder than later in a training program. Because the key hard sessions are not crazy hard at the time, you can afford to allow the easy run speed to creep up a little.

 

My main focus is on run form. Making sure I am developing good technique. Focusing on a proper range of movement, some snap at the ankle and proper knee lift. While working on improving running form I find the intensity needs to be raised a bit until the form changes become more natural. Remember the body is inherently lazy and will take what it thinks is the easiest way in the moment. This doesn’t always mean it’s the best way in the long term.

 

To ensure the runs aren’t too hard, the best guide is that you are able to repeat the exact same run the next day without fatigue carrying over.

 

Increasing Workload With Easy Runs

 

After setting a grounding with some base training we start to push the key runs a bit harder. Yet we still want to keep increasing volume and the ability to handle more training. This is the time the easy runs start to become tricky. This is where we really have to pay attention to the effect of these runs. As we start including faster running in the training mix, it is often easy to inadvertantly run the easy runs too fast. It just starts to feel natural to run faster. During the run it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. Yet it encroaches on the your recovery. It adds a load you need to recover from, and it puts a hold on recovering from the harder runs. This tends to be subtle, but it accumulates and reduces your ability to extend your key runs.

 

This is the time to put your ego away. Drop the pace on your easy runs to what may feel ridiculously slow. To push up the workload, gradually add a little bit of distance to a couple of the easy runs each week.

 

 

Closing Down On The Race

 

As we get closer to race day the key runs tend to become harder and more specific. It becomes important to be fresh enough to hit your marks in the hard runs. As a result the easy should be even easier. Personally I find they vary a lot during this time. Completely dictated by how I am responding in the key hard sessions.

 

This is no longer the up the volume. Some of the runs will be very short, maybe just 30 minutes at a ridiculously slow jog. If there are a few days between extra hard runs, then in the middle I may move the pace up to something that feels quick for easy. Making sure it doesn’t take away from the next run.

 

 

Respect Easy Runs

 

I’ve kept clear of providing exact pacing guidelines. The speed of an easy run shouldn’t some preset arbitrary number. It be guided by the effect you are aiming for. Focusing some effort on taking notice of how you respond to the easy runs reaps a lot of returns. It is a great opportunity to develop a feel and understanding on how your body responds to training. This is part of the power of easy runs.

 

Power of easy runs beach running