The most popular race distance for both men and women, according to the reams of data uploaded to Strava, is the half marathon. The half marathon comprises a compelling and speedy hour or so of racing for top athletes; genuinely fast running like a 5 or 10k, but stretched out to cover the whole of a city. It is a distance that is accessible to the powerful miler, the aerobic monsters of the 5000m, and the endurance machines of the marathon and beyond. This crossover at the elite end is relevant to the recreational runner too; events between, say, 14-24k are a sweet spot that are accessible to those who haven’t got a background of lots of running volume, but represents a genuine challenge for all to stay the course.
Our Runcommon event isn’t a race, per se, and it isn’t a half marathon, it’s a 10 – in the nomenclature of running, referring to just a “5” or a “10” means it’s miles – which is a less common alternative with its own great history. From England’s Great South Run and quirky Cabbage Patch 10 to the rapid Tilburg road race in the Netherlands and the enormous Broad Street Run in the US, the 10 is something distinct apart from a half marathon and Runcommon is also a run with its own flavour. Heading from site to site, participants are encouraged to approach the event in their own ways: a touristic jaunt, a long training run, a time trial, a race against a work colleague, any and all are valid.
Regardless of one’s ambitions for Runcommon or your fitness in general, training for a 10 is a great way to develop fundamental running shape. Steeplechase and 5000m legend Moses Kiptanui is on record as saying that he aimed to be roughly in personal best shape for 10 miles regardless of the event he was ultimately targeting; this is for good reason. When you are able to run strongly for an hour or so, you have developed a good balance of strength, speed, aerobic fitness and focus. From this base, all things are possible for a runner.
What does ‘training to be fit for 10 miles’ look like though?
Well, as per training for any distance race, it should ideally consist of doing running sessions that cover a range of different intensities, and it should progress from more generalised training through to more specific training (and then some kind of short “peaking” period where training is reduced). This is just as true for a beginner as a full time professional, though obviously the beginner should be doing less volume and lower intensity. (Regardless of how excited the new runner is – many a hyper-motivated athlete has come unstuck by trying to follow the schedules of more experienced athletes before they are ready and broken down. Be patient; consistency is the name of the game.)
The more general training, earlier on in the approach, might consist of sprints, short repetitions (30-60 seconds say) and hill work, as well as slow easy jogging and cross training. This variety develops running skill, coordination, power and basic conditioning, while reducing injury risk by varying the loading put through the body.
Specific training is very much what it sounds like: training sessions and training weeks that get close to the target pace and target distance that you are ultimately aiming for. For instance, a session consisting of a 10 minute easy jog warm up, 20 minutes at a pace sustainable for an hour, and then 10 minutes easy jog cool down would be a great way to get used to the physical and mental demands of an event lasting about an hour. Alternatively, a 9-11 mile run at 80% effort would challenge the body in a fashion specific to the event.
The Mobfit sessions running from Uncommon Borough and Uncommon Liverpool Street are there for runners (or non-runners) of all levels, and aim to introduce and explain a useful range of sessions in a helpful and accessible way. There is magic in group training and it will always help you level up physically and mentally when the atmosphere is right. Away from these sessions, the magic is in the individual and the joy of running is that we can all improve by putting effort in intelligently. For any advice on your training in the build up to Runcommon, whatever your background, please reach out to the Mobfit experts who are there to guide and reassure.