Looking for a half marathon or marathon PB next spring? The key lies not in following your carefully planned spring training plans, but in what you get up to in the off-season months between October and December.
I had a terrible 2015 in terms of what I set out to achieve and what I actually accomplished. I can trace most of my failures back to the fact that my training in the latter stages of 2014 was inconsistent and I started the year on the back foot with no real aerobic base.
The coming months are the ideal time to work on your base aerobic conditioning, strength and stamina. Consistency is key so keep those long runs going but at a nice easy pace. Use the fact that the intensity is lower to experiment with new routes and venture out onto any local trails you may have.
Hills are your friend in the winter so don’t try to avoid them. Find some nice hilly routes for your long run but also add in some specific hill sessions into your midweek running; they will all help to improve your leg strength and enhance your running economy.
Now is also the time to take advantage of the lower intensity of your training and think about taking your weekly mileage to a new level. Take it slowly but add in a few miles each week, remembering to have a cutback every three to four weeks to allow your body to adapt.
It doesn’t have to be all about the training, though. Try to keep your motivation and interest up by adding in some cross-country racing. It may sound daunting but I promise you it isn’t; all standards will battle through the mud for what is a great threshold speed session that you can do with friends. Give it a try!
A hill session with a difference, this one. Unlike standard hill sessions, where you use the downhill part as a recovery jog, the key to this session is maintaining the same effort level throughout.
Find a runnable hill that will take you a couple of minutes to ascend. After a good warm-up, spend 20 minutes continuously running up and down the hill making sure you maintain the same effort level throughout (yes, you should be going fast downhill).
Your effort levels should be just below threshold, similar to the kind of effort you could manage in a one-hour race.