September 2017 - Types of Training

The Question

September's question was from Jo in Bournemouth. Jo asked:

I've been running a little while and want to start training a little more intelligently. I read about long runs, reps, intervals, tempos, threshold runs, steady runs, hill reps, fartleks. I'm starting to get my head round it all, but am trying to figure out how to organise my training. Am I supposed to include all these different types of runs every week (impossible, because I only run three times)? Help!

- Jo, Bournemouth

Simon Loughran
Simon - Middle-distance runner and athletics coach

“I don't blame you for feeling a bit lost. You're absolutely right that it's not possible to cram every type of run into a week.

The biggest mistake relatively new runners tend to make is not so much doing the wrong types of sessions, but doing too many of them too often.

As a relatively new runner your main focus should be on gradually and sensibly building mileage, and the truth is you'll continue to improve just by doing that up to a certain point.

Of course, to get the most out of your training, variety is important. Both in order to offer different training stimuli and to help alleviate boredom.

There are plenty of online guides about different types of runs. However, learning when and how to incorporate these types of sessions into a training schedule is more difficult.

Any decent training program - whether it's from a book, online or tailor-made by a real-life coach - should provide a good description of the session you're to undertake and hopefully give you some clues about its usefulness as well.

In my opinion, any runner would benefit from grabbing a copy of Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels. We have a chapter-by-chapter review of it on this site.

Reading a book won't make you a top running coach, but it will give you the tools that enable you to design your own training sessions and also to discern between those from other sources.

Finally, at the risk of overloading you with even more information you might want to have a look at our sessions page for some ideas.”

Our Member's Answer

September's member's answer was from V.P. in London. V.P. suggests not fretting:

V.P. - chilled

“My advice: don't worry too much about it. You pick up a lot of this stuff as you go on (then you can start confusing new runners with it).

Are you a member of a club or do you run with any groups? It's really useful to have other runners to speak to and ask questions. Most clubs have proper coaches as well so you can get really technical if you want.”

Thanks, V.P. Joining a club is never a bad idea.