Sunday 25 January 2015

Flex for success

If you are struggling to keep up with the 5k to 10k programme it's okay to be flexible with your training, but never use the elements as an excuse, writes Liz Costigan

Trainer Liz Costigan. Photo: El Keegan

Congratulations, you are into the third week of your 5k to 10k programme. By now you are probably in a routine and hopefully enjoying all of the positive aspects of training for a race.

If you are struggling to get all of your five training sessions in, don't worry! Five days is a big commitment. You'll be happy to hear that there is, of course, no harm in tweaking the programme a little.

If you have made the decision to run a 10k, then you want to do it the right way, but being flexible is a really important part of running. No two weeks of the programme are the same, just as no two weeks of your life are. We all have personal and professional commitments that need to take priority sometimes.

Some weeks you may be just too busy to fit your training in. It's not the end of the world! When this happens, try to complete some of the week rather than none. For example, if you usually train five days and you can only fit two days in, be sure to do your long run and then be truthful with yourself the other day. What do you need? Are you lacking strength? If so, do your strength session. If mileage is your weakness, then get out for the long or medium run.

I have given you a five-day programme, but training three or four days a week is more than sufficient to get to your goal of 10k.

Everyone is different but the long run and the strength sessions are very important, so try – if you are stuck – to get at least these two sessions in each week.

From my experience, you need a minimum three days of training to reach your goal safely and with enjoyment; the more consistent you are with your training, the better you will feel at the start line on March 9. If – due to injury, sickness or whatever else – you miss one full week of training, all is not lost. Yes, it will be tough getting back into it and you will feel like you are starting from scratch, but you won't be.

You already have a couple of good weeks under your belt which will stand to you. If you try to play catch-up, you can risk injury so don't over-train in panic. Ease yourself back into the programme, listen to your body and progress steadily and safely. All is not lost and you can make up for a little lost time.

If your schedule only allows for three-four days to train, mix it up. Take a look at the plan and your schedule and alternate your weeks; eg if you only have three days to train this week try the following;

{HTML_BULLET} Long Sunday run (7k distance this week)

{HTML_BULLET} Short run and strength session

{HTML_BULLET} 60-minute cross-training session

The week after you can look at leaving the short run and strength session out and completing the long run, strength session and the medium run (5k this week).

This will ensure variety and you won't lose out on any aspect of your training.

The only way to fight it is to be prepared for it. When I started running I used to find it so hard to know what to wear.

I would go out wearing too few layers and turn into a human icicle by the time I'd reached my second mile, or else I would overdo it completely and simmer my way uncomfortably through the park.

So, dress for success by layering properly. Begin with a base layer, this absorbs the sweat from your body and keeps you dry and warm, then you'll need a mid-layer such as a fleece to insulate, and, finally, a wind/water-proof layer to protect you from the wind and rain.

Irish Independent

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