Properly training for a race is key to your running success.
Not only does appropriate training ensure that you’re able to run the entire race distance, but it also helps you avoid injury. The amount of work put into the weeks and months leading up to a race is critical for achieving your desired time and distance goals.
At some point during training, you may hit a plateau or level off in your progress. This is a natural occurrence and definitely not something to put yourself down about. Luckily, these types of plateaus can be overcome by simply examining your training routine and switching up your runs. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is with progression runs.
A progression run is a workout that starts out at a comfortable speed then gradually gets faster. Simply put, your ending pace should be faster than the one you started at.
While there are several different ways to do progression runs, here are a few examples to get you started:
Progression runs give your body time to warm up, a period to run at a comfortable pace, and the ability to sustain your run even when tired. They help you avoid injuries when training by beginning your run at a moderate pace. Starting out a run too quickly can increase your risk of injury and put unnecessary stress on your system.
Another benefit of progression runs is that they increase your speed gains more quickly. Progression runs are less demanding on the body than other types of workouts, such as tempo runs or intervals, which means that your recovery from them is quicker. This gives you more time to fit in other runs, helping you to progress faster.
As if you weren’t already sold on progression runs, a third benefit is that they teach your body how to properly behave during races. Some people have a tendency to start out too fast during a race. While they may be running at the head of the pack in the beginning, they’re often struggling by the end. Not only do progression runs teach your body to run faster in a fatigued state, they mimic how you should be running a race: slower at the start with an increase in speed at the end to finish.
Although they may be less intensive than other types of runs, progression runs still require a solid running base. It’s advised that runners with less than 6 months of consistent training avoid doing progression runs.
That being said, no matter what distance you’re preparing for, doing one progression run a week will help ready you for more intense training down the road.
The list of different types of progression runs above can be used to determine which type would be most beneficial for your training distance.
If running a 5K or a 10K, progression runs should be used early in training and can be swapped out with longer, faster runs as training continues.
For half marathon or marathon training, progression runs should be longer in distance and used later in training.
The best thing to do when starting out a progression run is to monitor your pace and/or heart rate in order to increase your speed as the run progresses. While more seasoned runners can often do this by feel, using something that gives you quantitative data is usually the best way to learn how your body feels as it’s exerting more effort.
A general formula for progression runs is:
By applying these guidelines to a distance of 4 miles, the run would be broken down in the following way:
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