Distance running and its several methods of training is as diverse as the practitioners of the sport itself. For those already in the running, the early season training is for repair of weak areas while the late season one is for focusing and cultivating on the runner’s strengths.
Coaches and runners all agree that the keys to an effective training program are the following time-tested principles: detailed planning, correct rest and recovery use, and the gradual increase in training intensities and durations.
Some of these kinds of training are specialized and are focused on particular aspects which they try to improve on (if need be) or eliminate, as the case maybe.
This is a long and steady continuous run where a runner is to keep a particular pace (called “comfortable hard” by runners) for about 40 to 60 minutes with relative ease. This is one area of the training which is most beneficial – it helps develop strength in the cardiovascular system and improves the capillaries in the muscles which in turn enhances the body’s efficient use of its energy sources.
Steady-pace training is the foundation phase which prepares the runner for more intense, and longer, training in the program.
Tempo-pace training (threshold running)
Tempo-pace training is designed to bring the runners at their lactate threshold. This is the intense level of the training where lactic acid begins accumulating in the blood. Continuous running at tempo-pace can be maintained for 20 to 40 minutes. The purpose of tempo runs (as it is also known) is to train runners at an intensity level just below hard-pace running.
The segmented threshold training is a series of shorter runs, 90 seconds to 8 minutes long, with short recovery intervals of one minute or less in-between.
Repetition training is intended to increase the runner’s efficiency by decreasing the oxygen cost of running. It is also to help the runner be aware of pace and rhythm. Per exercise experts, a repeat of one to five minutes of fast running is the ideal repetition training for distance runners.
Another good rule is making the rest time twice as long as the run time.
Interval (high lactate) training
The interval training is the recovery period between sessions of running. Here, the goal is to run specific distances repeatedly at high-lactate blood level, with the recovery ratio of 2 is to 1. (In repetition, it is 1 is to 2.)
Middle-distance runners need to tolerate high levels of lactic acid because it is a result of anaerobic running. The lactic acid here becomes the source of energy in the absence of oxygen. A high level of lactic acid is maintained in the blood throughout the workout.
The duration of each run in an interval session is typically 15-90 seconds (100-600m) faster than race pace. The recovery ratio should be 1 or 2:1 run to recovery. The idea is not to fully recover, but to maintain a high level of lactic acid in the blood throughout the workout.
Speed play training
This training module is really a combination of fast and slow running, contrary to its name. It is a continuous running session that mixes bursts of fast running followed by easy running paces for recovery.
This is also done on various terrains, including hills, flats, and slopes. The speed bursts and the recovery paces are free and unstructured so that the runner feels he is actually playing with speed.
Like the speed play training, surging is also continuous running. While speed play has alternating periods of sprinting and jogging, surging is a steady-pace running going faster well below the sprint speed.
This is done in order to enhance the runner’s ability to begin and respond to changes in the pace while recovering at steady-pace running speeds.
The various training methods in distance running, like that of the other sports, is still developing. New rules supplant the old ones after new research findings, tweaking and making better some good old guidelines. For the old and new enthusiasts, this is good news.