The last of our series of running training sessions, these two deal with developing the essential negative split, which results so often in a personal best on race day and then, the critical pre-race loosener.
Session Nine: The Negative Split Run
This is a fun session that is a tempo effort that will teach pacing and strong finishing. There are numerous options to this as far as distance and pace variation goes. Depending on your current condition and goal race distance, be creative.
The warm up for this run can be shorter than the fartlek sessions that we have covered, as the first stretch of the run should be at an easier pace. Just a few minutes of jogging to ease out any residual stiffness from the previous sessions and you are good to go.
We will use a session of an hour as an example. This session is easier to do on a flatter route so that the pacing is made easier. To increase the challenge you can do it on an undulating track, but try to ensure that the ups and downs are pretty uniform for the first and second halves.
This is an ‘out-and-back’ session. These are usually tough mentally and adding in the negative split goal will give you something to concentrate on and make things more interesting.
The idea is simple. Run out at a comfortable pace resulting in a heart rate around the 75% of maximum range. This should be a controlled and relaxed pace but harder than your recovery pace.
For the hour session, keep running until you hit the 32:00 mark and then turn and aim to get back in 60:00. Resulting in a 28:00 return leg and a considerably harder effort.
You can vary things like your initial pace going out and when you turn to increase the challenge. A nice negative split session, if you have a suitable route, is to run out for 30:00 (using the hour run again) on a course that is gently downhill all the way. Then turn and try to get back in 30:00 as well, but obviously running uphill coming back.
Always keep track of your progress so that you can gauge whether you will need to increase your pace to get back in time. It is always a good idea to build your effort so that you get faster and faster as the finish approaches. You want to avoid starting too hard after the turn and then blowing before the end.
As you will end the hour period running hard, you definitely want to spend a few minutes jogging easy to cool down and even finish off with a minute or two of walking before you hit the showers.
Session Ten: The Pre-Race Run
It is most common for runners and triathletes to rest the day before an event. This can be counter-productive in that the muscles tighten up and we can often feel sluggish the next day at our goal event when we want to be sharp and ready to go.
The best way to rest and recover for an event is to rest two days out, take it easy and stay off your feet as much as possible and have a gentle but thorough stretch in the morning and evening, preferably after a hot bath or shower so that the muscles are warm.
On the morning before the race, it is always better to go for a light session. Start out easy and relaxed and gradually allow you muscles to ease into the run and shake off the sluggishness that may have developed after the rest day. For this sluggishness to have occurred is logical when we consider that the body has become used to training on a daily basis as we have built up to this event.
Run for 10-20 minutes nice and easy, which should quite naturally, speed up as the body warms and loosens up. Once you are moving smoothly and comfortably add in 4-5 accelerations of 30 seconds. These are not intervals and should be nice and gradual and each one should end slightly faster than the one before. The last one should reach your projected race speed.
End off with a few more minutes of easy running and gradually and steadily slowing down until you end off walking for the last few hundred meters.
Finally, take it easy for the rest of the day and you will be good to go!