In a world where mileage is king, always remember the short guys: The recovery run, the easy run and the high intensity workout. – BY RAY ORCHISON
A week of training should be made up of far more than just long slow running, or LSD as it is known. LSD has many benefits, such as developing aerobic capacity and endurance, and it also prepares the mind to go the distance come race day, but this is where runners go wrong. The focus tends to shift entirely to LSD with not much room for anything else in the week.
You don’t get fast by only running LSD – there’s a reason the middle word of LSD is SLOW. LSD runs should be done at Two Oceans and Comrades race pace, which will be slower than your marathon pace, and after two or three months of this, it will take a notable effort in the second half of the year to get some speed back into your legs.
The good news is that shorter runs will help you rediscover your speed, and they have a number of benefits which supplement LSD’s:
• They teach the body to run in a fatigued state.
• They add bulk to the overall mileage of the week.
• They enable speed maintenance.
There are three types of Short Runs:
1. THE RECOVERY RUN: This easy run is usually done the day after a hard workout or long run, and the purpose behind the recovery run is not always recovery. It can certainly aid recovery by relieving stiffness, but the real benefit is teaching the body to run in a state of depletion.
Imagine you’re in a peak building week, running consecutively for six days. You’ve had two hard days and a long run on Sunday. Instead of taking your normal rest day on Monday, you get up and head out for a short ‘recovery’ run of 30 minutes. You will be doing this run on tired legs and with low energy reserves. This will teach your body to run through fatigue, something you’re sure to experience as you make your way up Constantia Nek or Polly Shortts.
Limit the recovery run to between 15 and 45 minutes. Doing it without a watch will help you avoid the temptation of running too fast, and be careful not to push your body too far and end up injured or sick! Make sure that you still allow yourself adequate recovery on a weekly basis.
2. THE EASY RUN: When it comes to Two Oceans and Comrades, the easy run makes up the bulk of the weekly training and should be done at Two Oceans and Comrades race pace – a pace that feels like you could run all day.
3. THE HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUT: This is usually a short but hard effort workout, like intervals or fartlek, and is taxing on the body. If you have never done these types of workouts, do not add them to your training just before a major race. Once you’ve recovered from your race, you can then reduce overall mileage and gradually introduce one light session of high intensity a week and build from there. I suggest you always keep a light session of high intensity work in your week, so that you maintain the speed developed in preceding months.
KEEP IT BALANCED
Each short run has its place in training, depending on season and upcoming races. Avoid trying to find that one ‘magical’ workout, rather keep a balance of training types as you progress.