Fitness for Long Distance Running
Endurance work is all about improving the cardio-vasular system and developing the muscles throughout the body to cope with the rigours of a race.
Predominantly this will be done with aerobic endurance running, although early in a training cycle some cross-training with cycling, swimming, team sports or other aerobic work can reduce the risk of over-use injuries and give a psychologically easy and fun break. The running can be split into three types.
Running continuously at a constant speed
Running continuously, but varying the speeds (commonly known as fartlek running)
and interval training
1. Continuous running is the most common activity you will see from most distance runners - it forms the "bread and butter" training for endurance runners and is often what people enjoy doing the most. The length of the run and number of runs in a week will vary according to the distance being trained for and the past history of the athlete.
Approximately, for many athletes, half to two-thirds of the distance covered in the course of a week will be this kind of running.
2. Fartlek running is steady running with varied paced intervals, you might do 2 minutes of easy running alterating with 1 minute of hard running for the duration of the run. Alternatively, you might choose to dictate the intervals by distance run.
3. Finally, there is interval work. This is all about learning to run at or around race pace.
It is very hard to generalise about what sessions people should do, but typical sessions would include reps of 800m or 1000m with a minute or two between each rep. The number of reps would depend on the experience and fitness of the individual, but might be around 8 reps for a good club athlete.
Most of these reps would be at about race pace for a 5k or 10k, making allowances for the weather conditions etc.
Other types of sessions would include pyramids, split/paired intervals or sets of runs.
A pyramid might have runs getting longer and then shorter (eg 800-1000-1200-1600-1200-1000-800) or just go one way (eg 1000-900-800-700-600), the aim might be to run all the reps at the same pace, or alternatively to increase the speed on the shorter reps.
Split/Paired Intervals would normally be reps where there is a shorter rest between each of the reps and more between the pairs - for example 6 x 2 x 400m with 30secs between each rep and then 3 minutes between the sets. The distances might vary (eg the first one could be 800 and the second 400 in each pair)
Finally, sets are like pairs, but with more reps in each set. This allows a better recovery (and subsequently a faster pace) after the long rests. An example might be 3 x 5 x 600m with 1 minutes between each rep and 4 minutes between the sets.
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