How’s your Great North Run training going? If the answer is ‘I haven’t started yet’, then you really need to consider getting moving.
The London Marathon is this Sunday, and once that’s out the way, many people’s attentions will switch to this autumn’s Great North Run.
As we write this, there are less than 145 days to go until the GNR. That’s a shade over 20 weeks which, if you’re not training yet, is going to disappear very, very quickly.
This is especially true if you are starting from a basic level, ie you’re not usually a runner. Don’t put it off any more, get out running. Even if you’re not especially competitive and you aren’t bothered about what time you get, the whole experience will be more enjoyable, and you’ll get far more from it, if you are fully prepared.
It’s generally desirable to be able to run for two or three miles, whenever you fancy it. If you can run three miles with reasonable comfort, then that’s a great platform to build from, so you can then add distance to your training sessions as the weeks pass.
If you can’t, then it’s actually not too difficult to reach that stage, but, again, you need to start now. Below we have put two different ideas for how to develop your training from this point, depending on where you are with your fitness right now.
Runners starting from scratch
As we said above, it’s not too late, but now really is the time to start your training. The aim is to get yourself capable of running a couple of miles comfortably, before you run any further.
Pick a run near you: a nice, flat loop, of no more than two miles. Make sure you warm up carefully – gentle stretches and a few short, gentle runs – then head out.
Absolutely take it gently the first time you run. Aim to complete the whole route, no matter how slowly you have to go, rather than stopping. Even if you need to recover, try to slow down to a very slow jog and concentrate on your breathing, rather than stopping altogether. Momentum and self-discipline are very important for running, and its better not to let either of those slip if you can help it.
Runners who can run three miles comfortably
Lots of runners spend a lot of time running mile after mile, which builds up stamina nicely, but offers little in the way of variety. nor will it help to improve strength or speed. By mixing up your approach to running distances, you can improve your speed, strength and endurance.
Try these to take your running to the next level – then, when you start to build the mileage (which you still need to do for a half marathon) you’ll feel fit, strong and prepared.
People hate hills sessions, but we love them because they are so effective. Find a long, slow upwards drag – one that takes you 1min30/2min from bottom to top. Start easy – four or five reps in a session. Walk back down the hill to begin with, but build up to jogging slowly back down. Try not to stand still, even to recover when you get to the top. Make sure you use your arms and knees to drive up the hill. Build up to doing more reps, up to 8 hills at decent pace, jog back recovery.
Out and back
This one teaches you to control your pace. Pick a run you like – about a mile long, no more – and head out. Make sure you time yourself. Aim to run at no more than 80% of your max effort. When you hit the furthest point, turn back and head home the way you came. Aim to beat your time for the half-way mark by at least ten seconds. To avoid cheating yourself, the aim should be for your overall time to still be respectable.
Vary the times, distances and targets as you get used to running in this way. It’s a great way to challenge yourself.
This one is pretty well-known, but is again about changing and controlling your pace, but running relaxed at the right time. The exact methods vary, but this one works brilliantly. Basically, you run for a set period of time, in a multiple of three minutes. 21 minutes would be perfect to begin with, but feel free to extend it as you see fit.
As each minute passes, you change your pace. Start with a very slow jog for a minute, then run ‘medium’/cruising pace for a minute, then run harder for the third minute. Then go back to the jog, and repeat. The key is make the three stages distinct, regardless of your actual pace. Try not to reach the stage where your phases are blurring into one single pace. If you’re doing it properly, you’ll be grateful for the jogging phase after about eight minutes!