Inexperienced competitive runners often feel the need to complete the last segment of a race at full speed. They tend to finish the last leg of their race at a higher speed than normal, which often results in stress injuries and cramping. This makes their initial few outings in a marathon tougher than usual.
The most essential part of running training is the need to include a variety of runs in your weekly routine, so that you are ready for all manner of challenges, and don’t have to rely on one strategy alone. The idea is to make sure that even if you do finish the last mile of your race at full speed, you should be fit enough to do so without hurting yourself.
From slow runs to moderate runs to long runs, and from high-intensity pace to a moderate mid-race pace, when a runner goes through the whole gamut, their running development is well-rounded and not lopsided.
Various types of progression runs can be incorporated into your training plans to offer overlapping benefits, holistic development and ability to tackle various race conditions.
In a fast-finish progression the second part of the run is relatively short and fast. You can allot between 3-4km of your run to this fast finish. What it does is makes you work extra hard in the last segment, and can build up your endurance over weeks of this training. You can choose to finish at a moderately higher pace from an easy pace mid-section or go for a high-intensity finish after a moderately paced mid-section. The important thing is to mix it up and keep the duration of the finish segment to 2-3 miles at the most.
Use the fast finish as a short high-intensity training session for the days when you are conserving energy, and vary the duration of the final segment.
As we had seen in the past a runner’s threshold is the maximum capacity of his muscles. When one reaches this lactate threshold, you’re already quite tired. But the threshold progression routine makes you work extra hard in this period. It’s a great tool to learn endurance training, and enter that crucial running-when-you-are-tired mode. A threshold progression run could consist of a 5K at moderate pace to get warmed up, followed by a 3K at threshold pace. You can do an optional cooldown after this run, but a warmup is an integral part of this progression routine, and helps you reach that threshold stage.
Unlike the previous two progression types, we will opt for a longer second segment in a marathon-pace progression. That’s the closest to actual race conditions and an effective way customise your workout for a specific race or long runs. While it’s advisable to do long runs on the weekend at moderate pace at first, the progression to a marathon pace is the key to transitioning to competitive running.
For your first 5K or 10K race, you could opt for a marathon pace progression, starting at a slower pace and ramping up the pace and duration of your runs after the first few weeks. A good starting point is to have a 3-4K at moderate pace, followed by a 5-10K depending on your target.