How To: Adapt your Training for Shorter Races
Even with a solid base, follow these steps so you can increase your speed safely. – By Susan Paul
Rick says: I am not exactly a beginner, but I am changing up my training so I feel like a new runner again. I’m not running a marathon this fall for the first time in a long time because I’ve decided to work on my speed. I’ll run some 5Ks, 10Ks, and maybe a half marathon. Since I’ve always trained for longer races, I’m not sure what my total mileage should be and how far should my long runs be?
Good for you for mixing up your training. It sounds like you have a solid endurance base from previous distance training, so you should be well conditioned for speed training and respond well to this new routine.
Your endurance background is an asset because it has conditioned your cardio and respiratory systems and soft tissues, like your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. This conditioning means your risk of injury is greatly reduced — a good thing for speed training.
In general training terms, the longer the race, the longer the long runs and the higher the weekly mileage volume. Typically, a long run is a few kilometres longer than the targeted race distance (up to the marathon distance).
You are correct that your long run and your weekly mileage volume can be reduced from your marathon training days. The biggest change for you will be adapting to a new level of training intensity.
With shorter races, you will be doing more speed workouts than you have done in the past, so while your volume is lower, the intensity is higher. Your training plan will likely include more workouts at paces faster than your goal race pace and few runs slower than goal race pace.
As a general recommendation, I suggest you set your weekly mileage totals in the range of 40-56 kilometres a week. For a weekly long run, 16 kilometres should be adequate for the 5K/10K distance. This will also allow you to easily increase to some longer runs of 19-22 kilometres if you target a half marathon.
Weekly mileage is also dependent upon your performance goals, so if you want to train for a PR or be competitive, you will need higher training mileage. Here are the guidelines I suggest.
1. Your long run should typically be a few miles longer than the targeted race distance.
2. Training mileage is dependent upon your performance goals. If you want to PR, or are a competitive runner, you will need higher mileage.
3. Add speed workouts gradually to your weekly training routine to allow time for adaptation.
4. High intensity training requires longer recovery time. The more intense the workout, the lower your weekly mileage volume.
5. Run the least amount of kilometres required to achieve your goals. Don’t increase mileage just because. Running more kilometres than necessary typically leads to injury or burnout.