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3 Key Half Marathon Sessions

The Half Marathon is a fantastic distance! It’s perfect for beginners providing a challenging but achievable goal and fantastic for more experienced runners as it’s a really tough distance to fully master. As with any race, the key to getting as much out of it as possible is in the training and making sure you get your pacing right! This short article will talk you through 3 key training sessions which will get you through your next Half!

For a fully custom Half Marathon plan to help you smash your next PB created with our computer code click here. Create an account and answer our questions, it takes two minutes and will build you a fully customised plan!

So, what training runs would you complete in order to smash your half marathon PB? Keep reading to find out…

  • The Long Run!

The long run is the the best way to improve your endurance. These runs should be completed at a steady pace and have a number of physiological and mental benefits including strengthening the heart, improving your ability to flush waste from tired muscles and boosting your confidence!

  • The Tempo Run!

A tempo run should also be a weekly feature in your training. It should be run at “a pace you could sustain for roughly 1 hour” which may be half marathon pace, 10 mile pace, 10k pace or 5 mile pace depending on your level. The benefit of a tempo run is that it improves your ability to remove lactate from your muscles while moving fast. This allows you to run at a higher speed without getting tired!

  • The Recovery Run!

A recovery run allows you to recover more effectively in between sessions! Recovering well is just as important as training hard and it’s actually when you improve. Recovery runs should be completed at a very easy pace aiming to keep your heart rate in zone 1. If you do not have a heart rate monitor then just make sure your effort is very easy, perhaps a maximum of 4/10 if 1 is sitting down and 10 is maximal.

There are of course many other types of training sessions in a good Half Marathon training plan and the way the sessions are put together is also very important. Unfortunately, custom training plans written by a coach can be very expensive because they take a long time to write but luckily, we have a solution that is just as good but one tenth of the cost.

Our computer code builds you a fully customised running training plan for just £10! If you want to smash your PB you can get yours by clicking here.

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Is the Half Marathon a Perfect Distance?

The most common question runners get asked is “Have you done a marathon?” or “Are you planning on doing a marathon?” and as a runner who mainly races 5 and 10k this question frustrates me. No one is impressed by my 10k PB (not just because it’s not very good!) because it’s not a marathon. The problem with running a marathon is training for one and racing a marathon takes a lot of commitment, in terms of your running year.

I think the half marathon might be the solution to this (click here for a Half Marathon PB!), you see it’s an achievable distance for all runners and the best part is that our non-running friends know exactly what a half marathon is! They also know it’s pretty hard so are impressed by our achievement… but, what about the running related reasons half marathons are great?

Firstly – the pace is slow enough that it doesn’t hurt immediately. Running a 5k is very uncomfortable for 85-90% of the race, but the first half of a half marathon should feel mainly comfortable, this means you can enjoy the race.

Secondly – you don’t get that horrible last 5 miles like you do in a marathon, sure the end of a half marathon is difficult but it’s not that horrible wall hitting nasty run out of glycogen feeling at the end of a marathon.

Thirdly – the pace isn’t that slow! At least, I’m always surprised how fast ‘half marathon pace’ actually is in comparison to my 10k pace, it makes me feel quite good about myself.

Smashing your half marathon PB is one of the most satisfying things to do in running. If you want a custom half marathon training plan you can get one here.

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How to train in the heat

It’s warm for the UK at the moment and a lot of runners will still want to get out and train! Here’s our top tips for staying as cool as possible and being safe while training in the heat!

  • Drink Lots

It seems so obvious but stay hydrated, we recommend an electrolyte drink before running and bringing water to either carry or hide somewhere along your route if your run is longer than 40 minutes.

  • Run at odd times

It’s cooler in the early mornings and late evenings. Try and avoid running in the middle of the day when it’s really hot!

  • Sleep Well

Sleeping improves our recovery like nothing else and helps our body function properly. This includes thermoregulation and sleeping for at least 8 hours will assist you in keeping cool on your run!

  • Slow Down!!!

Everyone is slower in the heat, it’s ok. Start your run 15s per km (9s per mile) slower than you would on a cooler day. Speed up after 10 or 15 minutes if you’re feeling ok but if you start too fast in the heat, you’ll pay for it!

They are some simple but vital tips to help you train safely and sustainably in the heat! Oh, and remember to wear suncream and a hat! Enjoy your run!

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5 Reasons to back The Running Algorithm

1. Be a part of the future of running

We’re here to cause a big stir in the running world, by making personalised and custom tailored training plans affordable and available to all runners. Your donation now is going to help shape the future of running.

2. Supporting a new business

The early stages of a new business development can be tough. 90% of new start-ups fail in the first year. Your donation will help keep our business growing!

3. The free bottle!

Who doesn’t love a freebie. Donate £10 or more and you’ll receive a free sports water bottle with our logo on it to keep you hydrated while you train!

4. Help spread the word

Your donations at this early stage will also enable us to launch advertising campaigns to attract more runners to our community! More users means more feedback, which helps us improve our custom plans to be even better. Everyone wins!

5. Discounted training

All of our early backers will receive exclusive offers and opportunities in the future, including 10% off our paid training plans for life! Currently The Running Algorithm is a free tool but we will be launching paid versions with a host of cool new features to help take your running to the next level soon!

So click here – https://www.therunningalgorithm.com , scroll down and donate if you want to back a winner, back the future of running then donate and back The Running Algorithm.

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How TRA works

It’s a question that we get asked quite a lot. How does The Running Algorithm work? How is it possible that my training plan can be so customised and perfect to my needs without a ‘real person’ writing it for me?

Firstly, a real person did write your training plan. He taught the computer how to think like a coach. When you get a custom plan off a coach they might ask you a series of questions, these might be…

  • Your weekly volume
  • Your weekly run frequency
  • How injury prone you are
  • How long you’d like your plan to be
  • What distance you race
  • How old you are
  • Your gender or sex
  • How fast you are
  • How long you’ve been running

The coach will take this information and build a custom plan for you based on a combination of this data and that’s exactly what our code does too. It works – so far of runners that have answered our survey 100% of athletes enjoyed using The Running Algorithm and none of them said they wouldn’t use it again!

Custom training plans from coaches really are a fantastic tool for runners, they give your training the kind of structure that can only be achieved through a custom plan but now you can achieve that structure here too! Our plans are just as personalised and structured the same way, the reason ours are so cheap is purely down to the fact that we have automated the process!

So go! Check out the “Plan Builder” and start seeing improvements in your training today!

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Top tips on planning your running week.

Structuring your training pattern each week is a difficult task if you don’t know what to do. The Running Algorithm doesn’t recommend any particular order in which you should do our sessions but rather advise you plan your week with some key principles in mind. This means you can fit your plan in with your own schedule. What use is a training plan that gives you a 15 mile long run on a Sunday if you’re working a 12 hour shift and have your day off on a Tuesday? Here’s our three, simple, guiding principles for structuring your training.

1 – Plan your key sessions first. These include your long run and any interval sessions you have in the plan that week. Space them as equally apart as possible to allow better recovery between these sessions keeping in mind when your hard sessions were the previous week and when you’ll do them the next week. Your long run takes the longest to complete so most people opt to place that on their day-off work. If you work Monday to Friday for example and have a long run, tempo run and VO2 max intervals included in your plan that week you might do the Tempo on a Tuesday, VO2 Max reps on Thursday and a Sunday long run. This pattern can be adjusted but always keep in mind principle number two…

2 – Try and avoid doing two hard days in a row! Running on overly tired legs is more likely to lead to injury. This is one you have to judge yourself. If one week you have to squeeze your sessions in and you feel like you can handle it then it’s a judgement call but don’t get into the habit of scheduling hard sessions on back to back days.

3 – Be flexible, sometimes you have to swap sessions round or cancel them at late notice for whatever reason. Keep a positive mindset and know that missing one session won’t lead to a bad outcome. Running rewards consistency over long periods of time and being adaptable in your plan is an excellent way to achieve this. There’s nothing magic about doing your track sessions on a Tuesday night, you can train on other days too.

Keep these principles in mind when planning your week, if you have questions about your plan, need running advice or want to contribute content to our website please do get in touch by emailing contact@therunningalgorithm.com. Check out our “Plan Builder” page for a fully automated custom training plan.

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Dealing with a setback

Setbacks are something runners have to deal with, during a training cycle for a race lots of runners face injury, illness and miss sessions for a whole host of reasons. How we respond to these can be the difference between smashing your PB and performing underneath your expectations.

In September 2019 I was having my ‘off season’ and had a serious crash while out for a ride on my bike. This resulted in concussion, multiple trips to the hospital and 4 weeks without the ability to train properly. I had a 10k in my sights in December and thought all hope was lost for a PB. Between then and the race I was ill 3 times missing more than ten planned runs. I went on to have the best race of my life bringing my PB from 35:23 to 33:09 without running more than 50km in a single week. Mindset and careful planning were key in this.

Firstly, you need to accept that no training cycle is going to go perfectly. Sessions are missed for a number of reasons and that’s ok, it happens. Missing the odd run here and there is not going to ruin your race.

Secondly, training through illness is rarely sensible and usually ends in more illness. Accepting the setback of a few days off and getting back running after a few days is worse than training through it and letting it affect your running for weeks.

Thirdly, listen to your body. I know it’s said a lot but there’s a reason for it. Learn the difference between normal training aches and an injury. If you think something is wrong then see someone who knows what they’re talking about, a physio is ideal but this can be expensive. Your GP can quite often tell you what’s wrong and give you some advice if you can’t afford to book a physio appointment.

All of these tips boil down to one thing, accept minor setbacks before they turn into a major one. Always keep a big picture in mind and remember, don’t lose 6 weeks of running for the sake of not wanting to miss 3 days.

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What’s the difference between an easy run and a steady run?

We see this quite a lot and there’s a lot of contradictory information online with a lot of talk about paces and heart rate and rates of perceived exertion. We are going to make it as simple as we possibly can.

An easy run is really easy! You should be able to do the run again at the same pace and perceived effort as you get to the end of it. If the plan says “Easy Run” or “Recovery Run” your heart rate should be low and you should barely be breathing much heavier than if you’re out for a walk. We cannot stress how easy this should feel. Easy runs are usually quite short.

There is no benefit to doing your easy runs too fast, save your legs for the hard days. If you’re worried about how it’s going to look on Strava and find yourself speeding up because of this, put your activity on private or just leave the watch at home. Personally I walk up steep sections of hills on these runs just to keep a lid on my exertion.

A steady run is different from this, some days a steady run will feel easy and some days it will not. We describe ‘steady’ as a pace you feel you could maintain for 3 hours (we avoid phrases like ‘marathon pace’ because it means very different things to very different people). The purpose of a steady run is to improve endurance and the duration of these runs can be anywhere from 10% to 30% of your weekly volume.

In summary, an “Easy Run” is slow with the emphasis on easy designed to aid your recovery and get you ready for your next session. A steady run aims to bolster your endurance and could feel easy or be quite tough depending on your other training going into the session. If you have any other questions on training then let us know at contact@therunningalgorithm.com and we’ll write an article just for you!

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5 Blister Hacks

Blisters are possibly the most irritating running injury, especially persistent ones that either don’t go away or continuously return. Blisters are something a few of us here at TRA have really struggled with in the past so here’s our top 5 blister hacks to get on top of them!

1 – Keep those feet dry! We know this can be tricky, especially in summer with sweat and also when doing a rainy long run. A few manufacturers make shoes designed to keep your feet dry, we’ve also heard deodorant on the feet 15 minutes before a run as well as talcum powder but do what you can to keep your feet dry! If you have another creative foot drying solution let us know.

2 – Avoid cotton socks! Cotton socks absorb sweat more than wool or synthetic socks, in the vein of tip 1 we would recommend avoiding them if you’re blister prone.

3 – Remove debris from your shoes! Before you head out for your session in the morning tip your shoes upside down and give them a whack. Those little stones that you pick up can rub causing blisters. If you’re out for a run and feel one stop and deal with it, if you leave it to cause a blister you’ll realise that the 30s it would’ve taken to remove was worth it.

4 – Make sure your shoes are on properly! It seems really obvious to say but a well fitting pair of shoes that are done up correctly shouldn’t move around as much causing less rubbing which means less blisters. Buying your shoes from a local running shop is your best bet, they’ll help you with getting a well fitting pair appropriate for your needs.

5 – If all else fails, blister plasters do work! If you already have a blister brands such as Compeed or Physique are favourites of TRA. They provide a very sticky ‘second skin’ which pads out the blister preventing it from getting worse while you carry on running. That said, if you can, you should rest to allow blisters to heal.

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The Running Algorithm – A Case Study

By The Running Algorithm

The Running Algorithm in some form or another has existed for 6 weeks now, a small group of runners tested the original training plans built by TRA and our CEO, Tom, caught up with one today to find out how it was going. The runner who is following this plan is currently in week 6 of 10, at the start was running 3 times per week, roughly 30km per week although this was inconsistent and had a 5km personal best of 26:50. This runner had never trained on a structured plan before but most weeks followed the pattern of one long run, one speed session and some other run which varied week on week.

Here’s how the chat went…

Firstly, Tom asked what the plan actually entailed. The version of TRA that this athlete is training from is no longer the one we use, it required the athletes to run five times per week (now they can select the number of weekly runs). The first week consisted of a long run, a medium run, two short recovery runs and a tempo run with a warm up, two times 2k tempo reps and a cool down. The athlete was concerned about the increase of frequency but since the overall volume increased very steadily and it was distributed evenly they found the increased frequency ok in the end.

Tom also asked how this athlete has maintained their motivation throughout the plan. We know that following a training plan can become difficult, sometimes you have to run on tired legs and sometimes sessions are tough. The athlete told us laying out their kit the night before and listening to music on the run helped a lot! We find that having a plan to which you are accountable also helps.

This athlete’s favourite thing about running with the TRA was the structure it gave their training. On the call the athlete said “My Strava graph looks so good!”, they felt their fitness had plateaued before and they’re really enjoying the progress that they’re seeing.

The Results: We know this is what you’re really interested in! When reading this section it’s worth keeping in mind that the athlete is only 60% of the way through the training plan and is yet to do a ‘race style effort’ based off the training. Since beginning the plan this athlete has seen…

  • A personal best in training, an accidental 5k PB during a tempo run improving on their old time by over a minute.
  • Close to their highest ever weekly mileage, but hitting this volume week on week!
  • 100% session completion, a true hallmark of quality on a training plan.
  • Increased pace with a lower heart rate on long runs. The athlete found they’re running faster in training for less effort.

Finally, Tom asked what this athlete has in store next and they said they’ll be signing straight back up to TRA (after a short break of course) for a marathon plan in order to help them train for an Ironman!

If you’d like to give us some specific feedback from your training then email contact@therunningalgorithm.com as well as answering these questions: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FYKT5ML