Use this build session to push yourself through the winter, improve your pacing skills and start the new season strong. Emma-Kate Lidbury shows you how...
Equipment needed: run shoes, socks, tights or shorts, run shirt/base layer, gloves and a watch/heart rate monitor.
How to fit it in
Schedule this session away from any longer/more intense runs or rides, and don’t be afraid to run or ride easy on days either side of it. Prepare yourself for the fact your legs might be sore the following day. If they are, just swim, spin or do a recovery run.
10min steady run, building effort/pace gently.
4 x 10min build efforts on hilly terrain, begin at conversational pace and throughout each 10min interval progress effort every 2mins up to 85-90%. After 10mins, go straight into the next block – no rest – but ensure you return to the same easy pace.
10mins easy jogging.
So many athletes focus on logging slow, steady miles at this time of year. While there is value in this, by neglecting to do any top-end speed work it can be tough when you start running hard again. By peppering in progressive efforts now, you should have a better platform from which to run fast later. It’s also a great way to improve pacing, which is a valuable skill.
Learning to build run speed over and above your comfort zone and then recover and build again can be tough to master mentally as well as physically. The initial reaction might be to reduce pace too much after the first interval, but before you begin, think about ways you’ll mentally overcome this urge. Focusing on form – especially when running uphill – can help.
This session is a great aerobic endurance builder which adds in some anaerobic ‘spice’, so it’s ideal for this time of year. Plus, the time spent working at an aerobic level is a good cardiovascular and muscular endurance booster.
By then ‘revving the engine’ and progressing to 85-90% effort, you’re topping off with some highly valuable anaerobic work. You can also do the session on hilly terrain to reap yet more benefits. Not only will it force you to work harder when climbing, but will also improve leg strength and encourage better form.
Adapt for Ironman
Lengthen the 10min intervals to 15 or 20mins each, building to Ironman race pace or above on each one. Alternatively, try a double run day and do this run in the morning with just a light 30min recovery run in the evening.