Faster, smarter running with fewer injuries
My philosophy when it comes to running has always been ‘less is more’.
There are runners out there who can get away with pounding the streets 7 days a week, but most people a) don’t have time for such high-volume training programs or b) get plagued by niggles when they train so much.
In 2010 I decided to try and experiment and test my theories to the limit, when I announced I was going to run a sub-3 hour marathon with only 2 runs a week.
I had run the Dublin marathon the year before off the back of a couple of months’ half marathon training, as I was in town promoting my clothing retail business Run Republic at the expo.
I had run a rather uncomfortable 3:17, so I knew that with the right dose of training I’d be in with a shot of breaking the magical 3 hour barrier.
I designed a program that would give me enough training stimulus to get faster and more aerobically efficient, but at the same time giving my body plenty of recovery in between sessions.
Alongside the running I planned in a couple of body conditioning sessions each week, which I believe is one of the missing links for most runners aiming to get faster without brutal weekly mileage.
In June 2010 I completed the Cork Marathon in 2:59:36, proving with my sample of n=1 that it is possible to run fast marathons without the usual 8 session-a-week schedules most coaches were saying were necessary.
I knew that I couldn’t just slap my own schedule in a spreadsheet and expect people to follow it, so I adapted it in a way that I knew would work for the majority.
My iRunning 3-runs-a-week schedule was born, and the iMarathon was launched later that year.
Since then hundreds of runners have credited it with helping them smash personal best times and train effectively for their first marathon.
The program is delivered via a password protected website that allows you to access the coaching videos and resources, or download them all directly to your own computer.
You will need to be already capable of running for an hour non-stop before taking on the iMarathon. If you’re not quite at this stage yet then I would strongly encourage you to take a look at my Beginner’s Luck training program that is designed to get you to this point.
You might not need to start at the very beginning, but it will make your iMarathon experience a great deal more enjoyable if you’re already confident of running for an hour.
Soon after the iMarathon proved such a success I applied the same principles to the half marathon. Having been the official training partner with one of the UK’s largest half marathon (the Reading Half Marathon) since 2003, I had worked with many runners training for this distance.
Once again, 3 runs a week combined with targeted body conditioning started to help runners achieve their goals over 13.1 miles.
I recommend that you only begin this program when you are capable of running for 45 minutes non-stop. Check out the Beginner’s Luck training program to get you up to this point if you’re not quite there yet.
When I came to tackling the 10k I took a slightly different approach, and I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t suit everybody.
Both the iMarathon and iHalf had at their foundation the traditional long run at the weekend, which built up over the duration of the program.
But for the i10 Project, I wanted this to be like a short course in ‘how to run faster’, and so I did away with the nice leisurely long run and focused entirely on building speed endurance.
The i10 is NOT a ‘get you round’ program, and is going to challenge your physical and mental abilities. There are hills, there are thresholds and there are sprints, but by the end of the 10 weeks you will have built yourself a rather fast pair of legs.
Ideally you will already be capable of running for 10k before taking on this program. If you’re not quite there yet I would recommend working through the latter stages of the Beginner’s Luck program, and extending your run duration until you can comfortably cover the distance.
The Running Apprentice
After writing Beginner’s Luck I realised that there was a number of runners who were getting to the end and still not feeling confident enough to take on the challenge of a race.
I wrote The Running Apprentice to bridge the gap between beginner runner and just plain runner.
It introduces you to most of the common techniques used in training programs, such as threshold running, hills, race pace practice and intervals.
It’s still based on the 3-run-a-week format but with no specific goal in mind at the end. The focus is on learning more about how your body responds to different types of running, and gaining confidence from familiarity.
It’s recommended that you are capable of running for 45 minutes before graduating to The Running Apprentice. If you’re not quite there yet take a look at the Beginner’s Luck Guide for Non-Runners to build up your confidence.