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UP A NOTCH – TO 21km
By Ray Bienedell, Operations Director: Run/Walk for Life

 

In the 2006 Nedbank Race guide, we offered advice, specifically to novice runners and walkers just starting out, on how to choose the right running equipment, warm up correctly, pace judgement and prepare for your first 10km road race.

Now that you’ve (hopefully) taken some of that advice to heart and completed your first 10km race, let’s delve a little deeper into the varied reason why we run, and the many benefits associated with regular running or walking.

Then I’d like to set you on the path to running you first half-marathon. During 21 years of operation, Run/Walk For Life has changed the lives of thousands of people, and in the following pages we share some of our secrets with you.

WHY DO WE RUN OR WALK?

There are many reasons to run or walk as there are days in the year. Many people start on this path for health and fitness reasons, for weight control, to stave off the threat of cardiovascular disease, or simply for the social aspects associated with this wonderful sport.

Run/walking broadens one’s social horizons, and many a business deal, friendship and even romance has been shaped to the tune of shoes slapping the tar!

Let’s spend a few moments pondering the benefits of running and walking.

HEALTH
As an aerobic, or oxygen-dependent activity, running/walking reduces the risk of coronary disease and even protects us from some cancers. Running and walking activity reduces high blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels; increases our immunity to certain illnesses; and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and diabetes.

In addition, a recent Gallup poll found that 45% of people who got and stayed fit through regular exercise such as walking/running also reported an increase in sexual activity and enjoyment. What a motivator to take up the sport!

FITNESS
Running/walking strengthens the cardio respiratory and musculoskeletal systems, energising you to face the world with a smile on your face.

WEIGHT CONTROL
Running/walking is a safe, guaranteed way to ensure weight management, and in conjunction with healthy eating habits, is an extremely effective, natural way to reduce body fat and build lean, firm muscles.

LONGEVITY

Yes, it’s true! Researchers have found that those who exercise regularly, at a fairly brisk intensity, will live longer. So go on ... get back at your kids and live to be a 100! But jokes aside, research has also confirmed that the quality of life in later years is significantly higher in exercisers than in sedentary people.

AGING
As Dr George Sheehan, who President Clinton called “the philosopher king of running”, once famously remarked, “Running is the elixir of life, the fountain of youth, it will keep you young forever”. This is true to a certain extent: running and walking slow down the loss of strength, flexibility and bone density, and keep that metabolic rate going strong.

SLEEP
Regular running and walking promote sound sleep patterns, helping us to cope better with the stresses of modern living.

STRESS
As a destressor, running/walking is almost unmatched, helping to give us a sense of commitment and control, and a positive mental attitude to combat stress.

PSYCHOLOGICAL
Running/walking promotes good mental health, higher self-confidence and self-esteem, positive moods, and reduces anxiety and depression. Regular runners and walkers think more clearly, are more alert and are able to solve problems more easily. Have you noticed that runners and walkers are generally more cheerful than inactive folk? Yes, our sport induces a state of euphoria, particularly post exercise that fuels our enthusiasm and zest for life. Ever heard of the “runners high”? It’s not a myth!

COMPETITION
Running and walking are outlets for our competitive natures. Whether it is to beat a buddy in a friendly wager, take on the stopwatch, or set a personal best, a race provides a healthy conduit to channel our competitive energies. Of course, competition may also take the form of attempting longer, more arduous races. Hands up all those Comrades runners who, after completing their first 10km declared: “Comrades – never. It’s just too far!”

SOCIAL INTERACTION
Running and walking are great ways to meet new people, forge friendships, build your network and generally have loads of fun. Running/walking could be the most fun you’ve ever had with your clothes on!

So, now that we have reinforced some of the reasons why running and walking are so good for us, let’s start tackling the preparation for that first 21km race.

TRAINING
We’re going to keep the programme simple, but it is still necessary to train using a scientific approach that is based on sound physiological principles. At this stage, we are assuming that you have completed your first 10km race, and that you are in good health. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, please consult your medical practitioner before going any further.

Here are some useful general guidelines when tackling any new training programme:

•        Start off easy, TRAIN don’t STRAIN.
•        Always follow the philosophy of a hard/easy day when training.
•        Always maintain good running and walking form.
•        Vary your routes often. Where possible stay off concrete roads and paths.
•        Buy the best shoes that you can afford; your body and your feet deserve nothing less.
•        As you get fitter, longer distances should be added on a monthly, rather than a weekly, bases.
•        Variety is the spice of life. Get off the roads when you can and run in parks, on golf courses (beware that slicer on the tee-box though), on a flat stretch of beach or on undulating grasslands.
•        Be wary of incorporating quality sessions such as tempo runs, hill sessions and the like until you are well conditioned and road hardened.

10-WEEK HALF MARATHON TRAINING PROGRAMME

What follows is a simple 10-week half-marathon training programme that I have used with great success with runners and walkers of varying levels of fitness during my 17 years as a Run/Walk For Life branch manager.

It’s simple, yet it includes a bit of variety that takes the edge off merely thumping out mindless kilometre after mindless kilometre.

You may find some of the activities strange and even intimidating if you are used to slogging kilometres with no variations! But don’t stress; it’ll be fun and it’ll get your body into a state of readiness for the demands of a 21km race.

Please note that this programme assumes the following:

•        You are currently able to train between 30km and 35km per week.
•        You have completed a 10km race successfully.
•        You are relatively injury free.

You should be able to train four times per week. If you feel the need to do more, then you should add only one extra day and do between 5km and 8km on the fifth day.

The other days should be reserved for resting, playing golf and spending quality time with your family. Don’t become a selfish runner or walker. Your partner supports your healthy addition, so put some special time aside for him or her too!

We won’t allocate specific days of the week to this training programme, as each individual has their own personal time constraints. Slot the days according to your lifestyle and what works best for you.

WEEK 1
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x400m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             6km at approx. 15 secs below 10km race pace
Day 3:             8km easy
Weekend:       14km moderate pace

WEEK 2
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x600m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             8km at approx. 20 secs below 10km race pace
Day 3:             8km over a moderately hilly course
Weekend:       16km moderate pace

WEEK 3
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x800m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             10km, first 5km easy, second 5km at 10 seconds per kilometre quicker
Day 3:             8km easy
Weekend:       18km moderate pace

WEEK 4
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x1km with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             10km alternate easy/faster kilometres
Day 3:             10km easy
Weekend:       20km easy pace

WEEK 5
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 3x1km with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             12km alternate easy/faster kilometres
Day 3:             10km easy
Weekend:       18/20km moderate pace

WEEK 6
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 3x1km with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             14km alternate easy/faster kilometres
Day 3:             10km RACE
Weekend:       10km easy pace

WEEK 7
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x400m with 200m recovery in between, 4x400m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             12km alternate easy/faster kilometres
Day 3:             10km easy
Weekend:       18km moderate pace

WEEK 8
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 3x600m with 200m recovery in between, 3x600m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             12km over a hilly course
Day 3:             8km easy
Weekend:       15km moderate pace

WEEK 9
Day 1:             Intervals: 2.5km slow warm-up, 4x400m with 400m recovery in between, 2.5km cool-down.
Day 2:             10km easy
Day 3:             8km easy
Weekend:       10/12km easy pace

WEEK 10
Day 1:             8km easy
Day 2:             6km easy
Weekend:       Your first 21km race!

Some advice for race day:

•        Make sure you fuel up, and take in enough to drink during the race.
•        Aim for a negative time-split, i.e. run or walk your second half of the race faster than the first half.
•        Break the race into 5km segments. In the first 5km run or walk about 3-5secs per kilometre SLOWER than your race time chart. Pick it up slightly in the second 5km, run or walk freely in the third 5km without overdoing it, and really give it gas in the last 5+km!