Run training – end of year form with Spencer Smith

Tri legend and former ITU World Champ Spencer Smith makes a case for focusing on adaptation over ramping up the volume post race-season...


We’re now well into the off-season, and now you’ve hopefully had a period of R&R to replenish those depleted energy supplies in the bag, it’s time to get back to a little structure within your training. 


Now before we get carried away here, this doesn’t mean you pick up where you last left off in your training, nor does it mean the body is ready for the abuse you gave it during the height of the race season. This period of the training is about ‘adaptation’, meaning the need for some consistency without forcing the intensity or increasing the volume too quickly.

It’s more about the body getting used to some frequency again, without putting it under any real stress. Many athletes are so excited and eager to commence their training again that the urge to ramp up the volume and intensity too quickly is a common mistake. Try and think about the big picture, and although curbing any over exuberance initially will be challenging, the thought of success later on in the season should be enough to keep you somewhat sedated for now!

Starting back up

When starting back into any training programme after a hiatus, I would always err on the side of caution initially. Two main factors that should determine your realistic training plan structure at the start should be: your current fitness level and the length of time you’ve taken off.

The session on the next page, although not intense, does have quite a range of duration. It’s up to you to be honest with yourself and pick a realistic starting point to begin your training. Include it in your training twice a week and focus more on your form rather than any kind of specific pacing.

Click through to the next page for Spencer Smith’s run form session!


Kit Checklist: Training/trail shoes (not racing flats); run tights; gloves; hat; base layer/jacket


Hip circles –
standing with your feet hip-width apart with your hands on your hips, rotate your hips in circles in a clockwise and then counter-clockwise pattern ten times each direction. Do 10 hip circles in each direction.

Walking lunges –  step forward with a long stride and drop your back leg towards the ground. Focus on keeping your front knee over your ankle and perform it in a slow and flowing motion. 2-3 x 30secs walk/15secs rest.

Butt kicks – walk forward slowly while kicking your heels in towards your gluteus for a total of 20 kicks (10 per leg).

Leg swings – while holding onto something stable, swing one leg to your side and then back and across your torso. Perform the move 10 times on each side.

5mins jog at Perceived Exertion Level 2. PE 1 is no effort and PE 10 is max effort, so this is a very steady jog to find the legs. Listen to your breathing as a guide of intensity.


25-45mins PE 2-4. Include a 30-40sec pick-up of intensity at PE 5-6 every fifth minute, starting 10mins into the run.

– Increase the turnover slightly during the pick-up and use the ground to push off but stay relaxed. After the pick-up return back to very aerobic intensity.


Walk or shuffle
(slower than a jog) until heart rate is under control. Stretch out when you’re finished.

 Adapt for beginners – make the main session approximately 25mins.

 Adapt for advanced – make the main session approximately 45mins.

Try the trails

If you’re lucky enough to live near trails or a park, use that terrain/surfaces over running on the pavement. Running on trails/softer surfaces are not only kinder to your body, but it also provides much-needed strength if the terrain allows.

Takeaway tips

Warm up properly – use the dynamic stretches to prepare you for the run. The days of static stretching to warm up are over.

Keep the intensity low – listen to your breathing. If you’re breathing heavily, you’re going way too fast for this run.

Think form – this run is not about how fast you can run but more about the manner of how you’re running.


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