Advice from Ultra Runner Robbie Britton -
Robbie Britton training advice

In uncertain times many are asking what they should be doing in training and, possibly more importantly, why?

Depending on which Twitter accounts you follow the “rules” vary, it was one of the difficult things a few weeks ago in Italy. The uncertainty of what was allowed led to two things; people took advantage or people felt anxious about going out for a run.

Neither is ideal. If we take advantage of the ambiguity then harsher restrictions may come, but it is the pressure, maybe guilt, some are feeling, that should also be of concern.

There have been suggestions of 30 minutes, 60 minutes or whatever you like, but if we stay within our own locales, run solo, keep it to one outside session and don’t start doing anything particularly out of the norm, then the running community needn’t be an extra burden on the country.

Robbie Britton training

What should we be doing?

The honest truth is that no one needs to be putting in the high mileage and the long runs at the moment anyway. With most races postponed until the Autumn and any summer races with a little uncertain, what training is needed right now?

Many will have worked hard in the spring for marathons that did not materialise, but the training beforehand would still have needed some recovery and rest. It’s not just race-day that takes it toll, but the months of pavement pounds and work beforehand.

By now many might have had a few weeks of limited running, just going out for a solo workout each day, but if you haven’t it’s the first thing we would recommend. There’s no need to rush to peak fitness as you cannot hold it for months.

Related article by Robbie Britton: Advice on how to use an off the shelf training plan

So what might a week look like?

One thing to remember is that rest and recovery is still key. It might be tempting to go hard every run, but it won’t really help and it might even leave you exhausted and more vulnerable in difficult times.

I wrote recently about how training hard can be good for your immune system, but overreaching on a regular basis can run you down. Plus we must maintain a good dietary balance, try to achieve good levels of sleep and take into account the added stress and anxiety of difficult times.

With that in mind, you can still afford to train well and maybe also utilise some of the excellent online resources many are putting out these days for core and strengthening workouts specific to your own sport.

So without further ado, here’s an example of a good week.

Always a nice day for rest, but if you could enjoy a short walk with members of your household to stretch the legs out.

Easy 30-60 minutes with some strides. These are just a gentle acceleration to a quick pace and then easing off before it becomes a hard sprint. Very good for keeping the speed in your legs and preparing them for faster running tomorrow.

AM: Fartlek – 60 min inc. a simple workout such as 6,5,4,3,2,1 minutes with 90 seconds between each effort. Try to speed up as the efforts get shorter.

PM: If you want to do a harder leg workout at home then today could be the day. You’ll be recovering from the fartlek for a couple of days so, as long as you don’t go too hard, it can be a good time to recover from a leg workout too.

Easy 30-45 or rest. Start at a really easy pace today, to help get the blood flowing through the body after your faster workout yesterday.

AM: Rest or easy run. If you normally take two or more rest days a week then now isn’t the time to start increasing your load.

PM: Yoga or Pilates could be a good addition to any afternoon (as long as it’s not leaving you too sore the next day).

AM: 60 min inc. 20 min tempo run. With the lower overall training load, you can afford to go a little harder in some of your workouts so this tempo might be around 10k pace or faster. If you’d like a marker to compare in the next few weeks you could even do a 5k time trial locally to your house.

PM: Stretching/foam rolling or other recovery workouts at home. The science behind stretching and foam rolling is certainly not conclusive but now might be the time to see if it can help you.

Church of the Sunday long run. With races further away it’s not really necessary to be going over 80-90 minutes and 60-75 minutes easy, building to a steady pace to finish, will be enough to keep your endurance ticking over.

What’s important here is:
1) Thinking about what’s right to do at the moment and
2) What you feel comfortable doing.
You do not need to run a long way right now to run long races in the summer and autumn.

What can be really important is consistency. Think about maintaining fitness you’ve already built this year and maybe working on some areas, such as recovery or slightly faster speed endurance, that you’ve neglected in that past.

Stay safe and we’ll keep trying to come up with some useful advice for everyone.

Thanks to guest writer and Profeet Ambassador, Robbie Britton

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