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Run Durability: What is it and how does it work?

I'm currently in the first few weeks of a run durability program, which simply means I'm running more often. Now, it's important to understand that more often doesn't mean longer or harder or faster. It just means more often. The goal for any run durability program is to build strength in your legs and condition them for the more intense endurance training ahead. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, this will leave you with the essential base needed to get faster and stronger in the final miles of your race.

How it works: During my recent Ironman training I was running 3 times per week. At least 2 included some sort of effort, interval or steady state run. When you're in the peak training season, especially for beginners, it's difficult to work in more than 3 run workouts when you also have to swim and bike.

Now that it's the off-season, you have more time to focus on one individual sport. So, for the run durability program to be effective we want to increase the number of run workouts per week to 5 or 6. Because the number of run workouts per week is increasing, it's critical that the intensity stays at a minimum. Running hills or half mile repeats would totally defeat the purpose of this durability program. These 5 or 6 workouts don't need to be long distances either. Your previous season will dictate that, as I'll explain, but you're not looking to run 30+ miles per week here. The keys are frequent, shorter, easy runs. Repeat that, frequent, shorter, easy runs.

This will help your running legs build that durability which will allow you to increase speed and distance during the season.

How to determine volume and duration:
Frequent, shorter, easy runs. You get that point now. The next is patience. This will be a 3 months process to build up your distance and durability. Don't let your ego get in the way here!

To calculate your weekly volume, look back at last season's run training. Take your peak training block and calculate your weekly mileage, then average that over the number of weeks.

Using myself as an example, I averaged 21 miles per week between DATES and DATES. So, for the purposes of this run durability program, I'll start my weekly mileage at 21. At 5 workouts per week, that's an average of 4.2 miles per run. Pick the five days per week that fit your schedule to get 4.2 miles in and go! If you need some variation, you can always stretch it to 6 miles on the weekend and reduce your other workouts during the week to total 21 at week's end.

Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 2 miles
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: OFF

Do this same routine for the first month (4 weeks). Once month two rolls around, simply increase your runs by .5 miles per run. This brings you up to 23.5 miles per week for month 2. Add another half mile to each run for month three (26 miles per week) and you've successfully added 5 miles per week over the course of 12 weeks. You've increased strength and durability on the run and put yourself in position to get faster and run longer during the season.

This is an achievable goal for any athlete. If you need guidance (or a running buddy!) the coaches at SENS Fitness are here to help! Contact us today, and we'll build a run durability program specific to your needs to have you running stronger and longer when it matters most!