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Training & advice

Strength endurance sessions

When you have built up your aerobic base and have ticked off your target of "getting round" the distance that you were building up towards you will need to decide what your next target will be. Are you going to work towards running the same distance more quickly or will you aim to be able to run a longer distance? Your target will influence the training programme that you undertake. If you are aiming to get round the same distance more quickly you would be wise to work on your speed endurance and if you are aiming to run further you should work to improve your strength endurance.

Here are some examples of sessions that will improve your ability to cover longer distances more efficiently.

Long hills

The length and incline of a hill will determine the training outcome of the session. If you want to develop speed endurance the hill should be a gradual incline and should take you no longer than 60 seconds to run quickly to the top. If you want to develop strength endurance the hill should be longer than that.

To improve strength enduracne the hill should be longer than 400m. An 800m long hill is often ideal as this isn't so long that you can't work hard all the way to the top without slowing down. You should be working for at least 90 seconds and perhaps up to 4 or 6 minutes, depending on your level of fitness and your experience.

It can be difficult to find a hill of this length that has a consistent gradient but it doesn't need to. If it levels off at the top or even goes slightly down hill at the very end that can be good as it teaches you to run hard off the top and prevents the habit that some runners have of automatically slowing down at the top of a hill. On the other hand it could be that it levels out in the middle. Again, this is not a disaster as it can be used as a section where you gather yourself to attack the second part of the hill.

If you are running this as a group you could organise the session where everyone turns round and runs back down when the first person gets to the top so that the group stays together and does the same number of climbs. Alternatively everyone does as many as they can in 20 minutes and those going down encourage those on the climbs as they pass!

Oregon Circuit

The Oregon circuit is a circuit of exercises where you run in between the exercise stations. It is recommended that you base it on around 12 exercises with equal balance of upper body, core and legs spaced out so that you don't work one part of the body consecutively and allow a group of muscles time to recover. Each exercise should be performed for around 30 seconds depending on conditioning. After a complete circuit of exercises you should jog for five minutes then repeat the sequence once more. You should build up gradually to completing the entire programme.

An example would be:

  • 15 mins easy running followed by 5 X 20 seconds striding.
  • Press ups, 20 seconds striding
  • Sit ups, 20 seconds striding
  • squats, 20 seconds striding
  • Tricep dips, 20 seconds striding
  • Back extensions, 20 seconds striding
  • lunges, 20 seconds striding
  • Pull ups, 20 seconds striding
  • Crunchies, 20 seconds striding
  • Squat thrusts, 20 seconds striding
  • Bicep curls, 20 seconds striding
  • The plank with slow arm/leg raises, 20 seconds striding
  • Single leg squats, 20 seconds striding
  • Medicine ball push throw (will need a partner), 20 second striding
  • Twisting trunk curl, 20 seconds striding
  • Step ups, 20 seconds striding X 2
  • 15 mins easy running

Long intervals

Interval training is broadly defined as repetitions of high-speed/intensity work followed by periods (the periods that are the actual intervals) of rest or low activity.

Interval training started to make an impact to running performance around the 1940s and is attributed to the progress made by endurance runners in the 40s and 50s. It is a key ingredient in any endurance training programme. There are many different types of interval training. For marathon running longer repetitions are on the programme more often than shorter (although these should also feature) and this is because, the longer the interval, the more likely it is to improve strength endurance, ie the ability to keep going rather than to move quickly.

5 X 4 minutes is a typical session for an endurance runner. Most runners will probably need around 2 minutes recovery between each to be able to run them consistently. To build strength endurance the recovery time should be less than the time taken to run the effort and probably around half of the time. If you want to build speed endurance you should take the same time as the effort to recover or even longer, if it is a short distance of less than two minutes.

For more ideas on how to build strength endurance or for a bespoke programme that will focus on this, use our Training Wizard. Choose your distance, your target and then select "Build strength endurance" and let him do the rest!