Training: A 10k Hill Fartleks Session

The moon was just rising bright in the sky on the way to running club

The moon was just rising bright in the sky on the way to running club

Another Wednesday, another club night with Purbeck Runners! We’re now well and truly into autumn with it being dark before we even set off. Gone are the evening runs over sunlit meadows and grassy hills – no, for the next six months it’s pavements and shivering as you step out into the night air. (Actually it was 15 degrees when I got out of the car last night… but you get the idea!)

For once I actually remembered to start my watch at the beginning of the session, so I can say with confidence that we ran for 10.7k last night and this mainly involved steep hills and higher paced circuits of interconnected streets.

Run route Swanage

Hill Fartleks Session

This was a combination session involving fartleks, where you use objects on the street (streetlights in our case) as markers for faster paced sections and hills. So as we run, Coach Ross shouts “SECOND LAMP-POST ON THE RIGHT!” and we all speed up… two minutes jogging then “TO THE TOP OF THIS HILL FAST AS YOU CAN!” etc etc for an hour.

We started off with a warm up jog of 2k which took us up some fairly steep hills in itself. After this we ran two laps of a quiet oval shaped road, which just happened to be a few metres short of 400m – so 800m in total. We then jogged downhill for a minute before sprinting up a steep hill for 300 metres and jogging back down. After a section of 1k easy we then sprinted up another steep hill called Newton Road for 260 metres before jogging slowly again for 5 mins. Then another 200m sprint up an slight incline and sprint back down, easy for 5oo metres back to Newton Road, sprinting up this again – another 400m circuit, another sprint for 300m up a steep hill, back down and a final 2x laps of the road oval to finish – phew! A 2.5km warm down and arrived back at my car just as the heavens opened!

The idea for these sessions is to run small sections faster than you would normally run, to allow you body to make the adaptations needed to run at these faster speeds. The hills are a form of resistance training, forcing your legs muscles to work harder to propel you up the hill meaning even more fitness gains. Looking at my heart rate zones for this session it was spot on, as I spent an equal time in ‘easy’ as I did in ‘sprint’…


Training zones heart rate

Heart rate training zones

Session In Summary (approx 2 mins slow jog between each)

2k warmup
800m flat @ 5k pace
300m hill sprint
260m hill sprint
200m slight incline sprint
200m slight decline sprint
260m hill sprint
400m flat @ 5k pace
300m hill sprint
800m @ 5k pace

Next Training

An easy 5k this evening and then nothing else as I rest before Club Championship race 13/14 at the Studland Stampede

Running Training: Back To Winter Sessions with Fartleks / Hills

Nothing makes me feel that winter is approaching more than leaving the woods, fields and cliff-tops behind, and instead running through the concrete jungle in street-lamp lit twilight. After the fun and games of relays in the park last week, we were now back to pounding the pavements under the watchful eye and guiding voice of Coach Ross AKA ‘Ross The Merciless’. This was an ‘if it aint hurtin’, you aint workin” kind of session and believe me, by the end, my legs were a hurtin’.

The Session

As per usual I forgot to start my watch until just after we’d finished the warmup but I was reliably informed by Doc that   the total session was 6.77 miles (10.8k). My watch made it 8.9k so we must have been running for around 2km before I switched on…

Soooo…. we did a 1.5km warm up of gentle jogging, before starting the intervals. Looking at the stats from my watch, I make it a total of 28 fast paced intervals in 47 minutes. The session was obviously carefully planned by Coach Ross as the elevation (and so the intensity) gradually increased throughout the session, going from warm-up pace, to a flat stretch of intervals, to huge, horrid, hard hills and then graduating downhill to the flat promenade.

I spent 45% of the session in my ‘sprint’ heart rate zone which tallies with a hard hills/intervals session. I could not force my legs to run any faster during the final few intervals – I was spent!

It was also nice to do a few all out sprints in preparation for this Sunday’s athletics meet, where I’m running the 200m, 400m and long jump.

Pace during intervals session

Heart rate zones during intervals session

Elevation of intervals session



Training: Fartleks & How to Maximise Your Running Training

The Training

Now this was a lesson in the mantra ‘Listen To Your Body’! After Tuesday night’s track session, my legs were feeling a little tired as I stepped out of the car to join our Wednesday night club session. As we warmed up for a couple of km they were still feeling heavy. By the time we’d run 7k’s worth of sprint/jog, sprint/jog fartleks they felt like lumps of lead! Felt alright this morning though so no harm done…

The training itself was exactly 9km, including warm up and warm down and lasted precisely 44:07 (thanks Garmin!)

Two Things I Realised

There were two interesting things that I noticed last night on how to maximise a training session:

1) Include some horrible hills

Sprint up them, as fast as you can. Don’t think about the next one. So I guess it was a fartlek hills session (Swanage is a hilly place1)

2) Get Competitive

In a nice way. From personal experience even though I think I’m pushing myself as hard as I can when doing a solo speed/hill session, I’m usually not. I know this because when doing a group session I run much faster (to keep up), much harder (I’m not the one choosing the hills) and for much longer (no chance of ducking home early).

The moral of the story? Running clubs are great – join one!

Next Training:

An easy-verging-on-tempo run tonight after two evenings of speed work in a row! Then off to Cornwall for a weekend’s relaxing (spelt ‘running’!)

Training: Fartleks – Chasing the Streetlights!

Fartlek Session

The benefits of a fartlek session are the same as any speed training in that you’re essentially teaching your body to run at a faster pace. Similar to a track circuit session, the aim is to run at your target pace for concise periods, with short rests inbetween bursts to get your breath back.

So, still sore and achy from Tuesday night’s double of a track/speed session followed by football, I approached last night’s club night on the basis that I wasn’t going to go too hard at it. Unfortunately it’s not in my DNA to run at anything less than 100% effort! The moment a target is called out and there are other people running towards it, I HAVE to get there first!

Last night’s session began with a 1.5km warm of slow and easy running before we reached the flat and the start of our fartleks. These were intervals run at 80% effort for varying lengths (appr0x 100 metres) with slower running in between sprints. So it goes… jog…jog… “3RD STREET LIGHT ON THE RIGHT!” Jog…jog…jog… “1ST STREET LIGHT ON THE LEFT!” …jog… “TO THE GATES OF THE PIER!!“… etc etc for around 7km.

This of course was followed by a slow jog home (although with one surprise sprint of “TO THE ICE-CREAM HUT!!“). Alas it’s winter, freezing cold and the ice-cream hut was boarded up…

Fartlek route and pace

Next Training:

That’s been two nights of intense running so tonight will be a nice and gentle 45 min jog at around 7:30 min mile pace. Then Parkrun on Saturday!