Understanding Running Workouts

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If you want to crush your next (or first) triathlon, The Sufferfest triathlon training plans are the most effective way to make a transition to a stronger, faster, tougher you (see what we did there). Because the running sessions don't have corresponding videos in the app, we've created a text description of each workout to ensure you can Do As You're Told.

Each workout is broken up into 4 Parts:  

  1. Warm-Up
  2. Activation
  3. Main Efforts
  4. Extra Volume
  5. Cool Down

 

Warm-Up

Proper warm-up is essential to help get your body ready for the work ahead, prevent injury and help you get the most out of your running sessions. This is an easy to moderate effort designed to gradually increase your heart rate, warm your muscles, lubricate your joints, and prepare your body for the harder efforts to follow.

 

Activation

Activation is an extension of the warmup and comes after the easy, 10-minute jog when your muscles and joints are slightly warmed up and ready for greater demands. Activation exercises are most important before speed-focused workouts on the track or hill runs because of the higher neuromuscular demands of those sessions, which is similar to high-cadence work on the bike. Neuromuscular work requires the brain and muscles to send and receive signals more quickly in order to produce the necessary strength, speed or power. If you go straight into a hard workout after just a 10-minute jog, chances are the first few intervals will be lacklustre because your neuromuscular system isn't sufficiently primed. Taking a few minutes to perform drills that require coordination and quickness before the main workout will help ensure that you get the most benefit out of the session. These activation drills can include:

  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • Carioca drills

 

Main Efforts

This is the “meat” of the workout. The main effort description will include:

  1. Number of Sets - The number of times you go through a full “set” of intervals.  Not all workouts contain multiple sets. There will always be recovery between sets.
  2. Rest Between Sets - This describes the recovery that should be done between completed Sets.  If a workout has only a single set, then you will see “N/A” here.
  3. Interval Distance or Duration per Set - The number of times you repeat an interval to complete 1 Set. Some Sets contain a single Interval, while other Sets can contain more than 6.  
  4. Interval - This describes each segment that makes up an interval.  Sometimes there is a single segment for the interval, sometimes there are multiple segments for an interval.  To complete a single set, you simply repeat the Interval Segments

 

Extra Volume

This is more commonly seen in cycling workouts, though you will sometimes be asked to complete extra volume in a running session. For example, you may be asked to do a set of drills or strides both for activation before the main set, as well as after the main set to reinforce technique and muscle firing patterns. 

 

Cool Down

This describes the running that should be done after all sets and extra volume (if applicable) are completed.  A proper cool down is a must, especially for some of the harder sessions. Don't neglect this part of the workout! 

 

Duration and Intensity

Each section of the workout is divided into a number of segments of specific duration and intensity. The description of each workout “segment” will include the following information:

Duration- The length of time you'll spend in each interval.

Target RPE- The recommended Perceived exertion, or how hard you FEEL like you're working.

Target Pace (expressed as a % of your Running Threshold Pace )

RTP - This is roughly the pace you could hold for a 10K of continuous running. The thing to remember when basing efforts off of RTP is that a higher percentage of pace, such as 120%, is a slower speed and easier pace than 100% RTP, and 90% of RTP is a faster speed and harder pace than RTP; so a tempo run would be completed at 110-120% of RTP, while a tempo effort on the bike would be completed at 75-90% of FTP

Target Heart Rate (expressed as a % of your LTHR as determined by your 5k pace test).

RTHR- the average heart rate you would have while holding a steady training effort for an hour.

For example, most runs will begin with a warmup of 10-minutes at an easy effort. So it would have an RPE of 2, target pace of 145% of your RTP, and target Heart Rate that is less than 70% of your RTHR and would be written as:

10 minutes @ RPE 2 -- 145% of RTP --HR < 70%

 

Here is what the description for a complete Running Workout might look like:

Warm-Up
10 minutes @ RPE 1-2 -- 145-120% of RTP -- HR <70-87%

Activation 1
Drills: Butt kicks, high knees, builds, carioka, strides & skipping
Number of Sets: 2 each
Rest Between Sets: 30 sec
Interval Distance Per set: 50m each
Interval Effort: RPE 3-4
Recovery: RPE <2

Main Effort
Number of Sets: 3
Rest Between Sets: 4 minutes
Interval Repeats Per set: 2K
Interval Effort: RPE 5-6 --120-110% of RTP --HR 87-95%
Recovery: RPE <2 -->145% of RTP --HR<70%

Extra Volume
NA


Cool Down
5 minutes @ RPE 2 -- HR <70%


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