As runners we can often be found guilty of entering into a training routine and never diverging from it. Most commonly we stick to the same route, leading to us repeatedly completing the same distance in more or less the same time every training session.
By varying your training sessions, not only will you expel the monotony which comes as part and parcel of performing the same training session every day, you will also increase your speed and endurance.
In order to avoid a fitness plateau - which will result from repeating the same routine due to your body adapting to the demands you impose upon it - you need to alter the duration and intensity of your training sessions. Different types of training sessions will provide different results. Longer, slower runs will increase your endurance whilst shorter, faster runs will increase your speed. Below are a number of different training sessions which you should include in your training in order to increase your endurance and speed.
Steady, long distance run
Steady running is used to build your aerobic endurance.You should run at a comfortable pace, one at which you are able to maintain conversation. These runs help your body become more efficient at consuming and using oxygen.
Recovery runs are slow, relaxing runs during which you should be able to breathe easily. If you’re a beginner this is what most of your first runs will be. Nevertheless they play a key role in both experienced and novice runners programmes. The reason is twofold: it’s not possible to train hard every session and a recovery run will allow you to actively recover.
Interval training involves increasing your speed for short periods of time or distance. You can vary the duration of increased speed, the recovery period, the pace of the increased speed and the number of reps. For example, run fast for one minute, recover at a slower pace for two minutes and then repeat 8 times.
Find a pace just outside the bounds of what you find comfortable: you should be putting in roughly 80 percent of your effort. Beginners may wish to perform intervals of increased pace and build up to maintaining this pace for 20 to 30 minutes. Threshold runs increase your energy efficiency when running. They will allow you to run faster whilst using the same amount of effort. Overtime your threshold will become higher and you will be able to run for longer at a faster pace.
Hill repeats are a popular form of hill training. Simply find a hill you can run up and then jog back down. Repeat this for 20-30 minutes. Alternatively run continuously over hilly terrain. Hill training builds leg strength as well as stamina.
Intense sessions such as interval training, threshold running or hill training should always be followed by a more relaxed session the next day. It is also advisable to mix in some form of cross training such as strength training, yoga or pilates the day after an intense session.