Having raced the NEMAA relays, Les Allcorn multi terrain 10km and Gordon Smith relays in quick succession, I was keen to establish a solid training plan to get me on the start line at the Great North 10km road race in early July in the best possible shape.
I came out of the 3 races feeling like something was missing and I’m pretty sure it’s related to my strength endurance. As such I’m looking to establish a more regular diet of consistent threshold training, in particular running at marathon to half marathon type effort. I also need to practice running at or around 10km intensity.
To do this I can reference the following things:
For Threshold running:
- My predicted marathon and half marathon race power recommendations, currently 339 watts and 362 watts respectively;
- My Stryd threshold training zone, currently 340-377 watts.
For 10km Race Pace running:
- My Stryd Critical Power (CP) which is currently 378 watts;
- My predicted power for the 10km race distance, currently slightly higher than my CP at 381 watts.
A rough structure to my training would be to run at least 5 days per week but ideally 6 days out of 7. I’d then look to do some faster running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A Saturday will always be the day I look for a higher daily volume than average but not necessarily always in “Long Run” format. This is something I did to good effect in 2021: approx. 16-20km total but broken up into a warm up, parkrun and cool down.
So a Tuesday might be some threshold running, Thursday some 10km race pace practice and potentially (if all feels well) a longer volume day on Saturday incorporating a parkrun with some clear “process goals”.
With this in mind I decided to visit Town Moor parkrun on Saturday 20th May with the goal of running the first 5 minutes at around half marathon effort (362 watts) and then push on for 10 minutes at 10km effort (381 watts). I would then finish off the parkrun “to feel”.
Pleasingly the weather and conditions seemed perfect. The sun was shining but not too warm. There didn’t seem to be any wind. I also learned that a path on the course had been re-paved which should help with faster running as it was pretty uneven.
I set off at 8.15am and started really easily and built into the warm up culminating in 3x 1 minute efforts building up to around 381 watts – the effort level I’d hope to be running the 10 minute segment in.
I felt pretty good overall and also felt assured that my plan was sensible. Come July I’d be looking to run almost 35mins at this type of intensity so aiming for a 10 minute portion today felt like a good place to start. I could also use the quite competitive nature of parkrun to simulate “race conditions” to some extent.
It had been a while since I’d been on the start line of a parkrun. It felt extremely busy. This was to be my 84th parkrun and 68th at Town Moor. I’d never finished first at Town Moor and had no ambition to do so today. Town Moor is always pretty competitive and you would never expect to finish first with a time slower than 16:30. Even then it would be all about who didn’t show up. My PB was 16:41 and I wasn’t planning to get near it with my approach.
It’s often a touchy subject but I’ve always felt the Town Moor course to be slightly long. The course has had quite a few variations over the years but the most recent always measures at least 5.1km on my Stryd. It really is by the by and my typical goal with parkrun is training, trying to get something like a race like situation in the midst of a race build up.
The run started and I was keen to stick to plan whilst keeping a fairly handy position. There are always a few that go off much harder than they can maintain but after a minute or so things settle down.
I was probably in the top 10 or maybe just outside but I was already averaging >370 watts. I didn’t want to make a big adjustment but also knew I needed to try to relax if I was to manage the harder 10 minute effort.
Passing the 1km marker I glanced at my timer to see maybe 3:24 or 3:25 which is faster than half marathon PB pace. I was in danger of failing on plan.
Rather annoyingly the first 5 minutes ticked by right on a sharp left hand switch back so I decided to navigate that before clicking the lap button on my Garmin and picking up. My increase in effort level felt very pronounced and I quickly passed two runners and also felt like I was making ground on a fair few up ahead who were somewhat strung out.
I was already looking down on 385 watts and working hard. It felt harder than anything I could hold for 10km but I tried to stick to task. Getting off the gravel track and back onto tarmac was welcome but overall the going was tough. Perhaps there was more of a headwind. Whatever was going on my power kept edging below 380 watts and I needed fresh impetus to get it back to 381. That was fine for now and I was succeeding but I was working hard.
I’d gone by at least one or maybe two runners. I wouldn’t manage to catch anymore which was disappointing but I was staying on one paced and couldn’t hold onto the planned power wattage for the 10 minutes, I ended up averaging maybe 372 or 373 watts.
I maybe had 300-500 metres to go. My cadence had dropped quite drastically and I felt like I was desparately holding onto my form. I had a sense of wading through treacle and someone was on my shoulder coming onto the long home straight. They went by me one paced and my initial thought was to let them go. But I managed to plug on and maintain quite close behind.
Not wanting a repeat of the Les Allcorn where I’d capitulated I managed to summon a little late surge and went back by and managed to hold on, crossing the line in 8th place and a time of 17:35.
Although I hadn’t achieved my process goal, running the first 5 minutes harder than plan and the 10 minutes below where I wanted to be, I think the overall result was fairly similar. That said I now have the question of how I confidently go about running a full 10km at 381 watts. At this point it seems over optimistic but I have 4 to 6 weeks to dial in and seek to build the confidence in training that I need.
I am fairly sure what I need in training is more lactate threshold work in the zone of 340-362 watts, to build that strength bubbling under threshold. I will then have more strength to maintain running at critical power/10km race pace. To help with this I’ll also need to complement my threshold training with some decent running at 378-381 watts.
One session structure I am considering is Yasso 800s which is more regarded as a marathon prediction session but I could potentially start at something like 5 or 6x 800 at around Critical Power and try to build to 10x 800. Rest between reps is taken about equal to the efforts so if you are running the 800s in say 2:45 you’d take about that as recovery. I think this could be a fairly useful session to get some training as close to 10km effort as possible. It’s important to note that the 800 efforts will be harder than marathon, especially if you want to use it as a predictor. In other words, 3:00 for 800m does not equal 3hr marathon pace!
I’ll also plan at least 1 or 2 more parkruns with variations on the theme – potentially next time I will try a fartlek type effort where 400s are run alternating between half marathon and 10km power levels.
A key reflection on this parkrun was my position in my age group where I finished 4th. It shows the strength in depth in the local running scene in the male 40-44 bracket and provides the motivation I need to try to get back at least to where I was in 2021.
Thanks for reading!