I knew as soon as I signed up for the Bath Half that I was not going to be able to train by just running around Hampstead a few times a week. I’m sure that for some people it would be possible, but I just do not have the discipline. As soon as I get out into the cold and the damp, fartleks and hill training are the furthest things from my mind. I just want to run somewhere – anywhere – and home again as fast as I can! I find long runs really relaxing, especially after a day at work, but long runs alone are not going to get me ready to run 21K, when the furthest that I have managed is 10K. To do this I need to be doing a combination of speed training, stability work and (my favourite!) nice long jogs.
It is possible to do all of these things for free, outdoors and at home with minimal equipment, but speed training should be really hard work (if you’re doing it right) and if you’re having a bad day or have had a long week in the office it is easy to slack off. After all, no-one will know and your friends are just impressed that you’re bothering at all! However, I know for a fact that it works and I don’t think I could have finished the 10K in the time that I did without it. It works by training your body to work harder for longer periods while using less energy. Used over time it can help you to improve your speed over a set distance, increase your endurance levels to run longer distances or both.
Previously I have done all of my speed training in the gym. Even though I was on the treadmill on my own and could stop whenever I wanted, the timer ticking away in front of me was a little incentive to keep at it. Treadmills also helped me to concentrate on building up a race pace. If I had done this outdoors in the summer my race pace would have been as varied as the British summer weather! Before I moved to London I had to give up my beloved gym membership and my spinning classes with the hot instructor. I honestly didn’t know if I would join another after the move or if I would want to. I liked the idea of doing all of my training outdoors and getting to know the city. I seriously considered joining a running club. Most clubs will offer a range of training for beginners through to regular racers so I would be able to do all of the intense work that I needed. I would also be able to meet new people and perhaps make new friends. But after a fortnight here settling into my new routine I haven’t bothered to go along to any clubs, so caved in and joined a gym!
The advantage of joining the gym is that it is warm, dry, has the news on the telly and has yoga and pilates classes. I officially have no excuses for not training! It’s not the flashiest of gyms and the treadmills don’t have a speed program, but it’s cheap and will do the trick just fine. Plus the grunting weightlifter is quite entertaining.