Back to running.
One of the hardest things about trying to run long distances is that in theory your training runs should be long to prepare yourself. Long runs means a long time spent running. No doubt for some this is therapeutic but for others (i.e. me) it’s a real struggle to find the time and even if I could, I don’t want to spend all of my free time running.
With this in mind, I have come up with a variety of training ‘runs’ that I can do in 15-20 min on any given day that seem to do a pretty good job of keeping me in long-distance shape. I combine this with a longer run every few weeks (maybe more regularly as a race gets closer), for a preparation that is a lot more achievable and time-efficient than trying to find time for 100km of running each week.
The aim of the 15-20min training is to work hard. It invariable involves some kind of sprints so that you are still pushing your body. A few of the sessions that I have found to be effective are:
- Beep test – this seems to give the most value for time. Before my first marathon, I would do at least one of these each week. Getting to a 15 or 16 (I maxed out at 16.1) only takes 15 minutes and you recover fairly quickly afterwards without much fatigue.
- Hill sprints – again for 15 minutes only, I have found that sprints up a hill are great for both building leg strength and leaving you out of breath.
- Skipping – I find this particularly helpful for ankle and calf strength as this is a weak point for me. You can also get pretty creative with this as there are so many variations. I generally skip for 10min and then do 200 double unders to finish.
- Soft sand – everything is harder in soft sand! I also find that regular soft sand running seems to do a good job for injury prevention for me. In 15 minutes you can get a serious workout in with a combination of sprints, lateral shuffles, backwards etc.
These are just a few variations that I have found to be really good at building long-distance running ability in a short time-frame.