Structurally sound

Who needs structure in their training? Don’t all the great ultra runners just go out and ‘run on feel’? So if I want to be like them then I should do the same right?

Heading out for a long run

Heading out for another long run

Well it appears my more hippyish approach to training may not have been the best for me.

Following a training plan is something very new to me, I know all the theory about types of session to do and distances to run etc but have never followed a formal plan. Doesn’t feel like it’s necessarily limited my performances, I’ve always completed the challenges I’ve set but now I’ve begun training with more structure I am asking myself what might have been.

Last year was all about consistency, getting a good base fitness in for the first time with a years worth of regular running. There were very few structured hills or threshold sessions in there but that was ok.┬áThis year though I want to push on from that base and set a solid road marathon PB in April to really set me up for my first ultra’s in May and July.

My theory is that building a good level of strength and to a certain extent speed now for a marathon will be the perfect starting point for some longer and back to back runs as I build towards the ultra’s. Road running may not be where my heart with running but it does give you the ability to monitor time and distance a bit easier and get a feel for how you’re progressing.

I’m now 9 weeks into a 16 week training plan from Run Lounge and quite honestly I’m loving it. I’m feeling really strong both when doing the faster sessions and on long runs. I can also see a difference in my body, with a bit more muscle and definition building from some of the threshold sessions in particular. I now look forward to that email landing in my inbox on a Friday morning and seeing what is in store for me the following week.

Run Lounge training plan email

I’m also really enjoying the mental challenge of running at different paces and of course building the discipline to run easy when the plan says so and not just speed up because it feels easy. It’s not always easy doing it when running off road on a dark winter morning but as long as you don’t get too obsessed with the times it can be done. The strong winds don’t make the long runs any easier either but not much you can do about that.

I have however kept my long runs mainly to the trails, partly because the thought of doing all those miles on tarmac fills me with dread but also because I think it’s a lot better for my joints. Sure I need to have some specificity soon on the long runs and replicate what the race will look like but I’ll keep those runs to a minimum. Don’t think you’ll ever convert me to being a true road runner!

If you’re training for a race do you follow a structured plan or do you just do what you feel like when you head out?

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