A lot of people point to the Sunday LSD (long, slow distance) runs as being the most important part of training. There’s no doubt that those 23-32km runs are a big part of the process. They teach you to run long, and they help you to learn about pacing, nutrition and other things that will serve you well on race day when you run for 42.2km.
But early on, it’s the weekday runs that build the foundation that you need to have to enable you to run big distances in a couple of months’ time.
Different days, different runs
Over the first six weeks, I run the same schedule on my weeknight evenings: Tuesday is a 6km at tempo pace; Wednesday is another tempo run for 10km; and then Thursday I run 8km at a steady pace. Each one contributes to the overall training program in a different way:
- Tuesday’s tempo over a 6km shorter distance allows for some additional recovery after the longer Sunday runs. The up-tempo pace helps build strength and cardio and teaches you to push yourself a bit as you run near your limits.
- Wednesday’s 10km longer run, with some of that at tempo pace teaches how to run fast over longer distances and while fatigued. Later in training, these runs transition to hill repeats which build cardio and leg strength.
- Thursday’s 8km run stresses the body and mind to build mental and physical toughness. These are steady pace runs, meaning you can run at an easier pace than Tuesday and Wednesday. That said, you’ll quickly realize that three days in a row makes for some tired legs. Knowing how to hold your pace in the last few kilometres will serve you well after about 35km on race day.
Commit to your training from day one
These first few weeks are super important. Avoid the temptation to skip runs when you are tired and do all the work now to build a strong foundation on which to build in later stages of the training program.
Your Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon awaits on May 29th.