Having struggled with overuse injuries in my training for Milton Keynes 2016, I’ve chosen to follow the FIRST: Run Less, Run Faster programme this time around.  There is a lot of literature out there about this method, some good, some bad, but I honestly think this is the same for every type of training plan.  In an ideal world, I’d have a bespoke plan made by a coach, but my running habit already sets me back more of my hard earned pennies each month than I would like, thanks to Nike, Brooks and Planet Organic.

The concept of FIRST is fairly simple. You run three times a week and supplement with two hard cross training sessions.  The run sessions are split into three types; interval, tempo and long run, and within that, there are various distances. The paces for each of these runs are all based on a recent 10km time.

I’ll start by saying the paces are fairly challenging.  The below is based on a 50min 10km:

Pace Scenario:
50 min 10km
pace / mile pace / km
Long run 10K pace + 60 to 75 seconds 00:09:02 00:05:37
Long tempo 10K + 30 to 35 seconds 00:08:32 00:05:18
Mid-tempo 10K + 15 to 20 seconds 00:08:17 00:05:09
Short tempo 10K pace 00:08:02 00:05:00
1600m reps 10K – 35 to 40 seconds 00:07:22 00:04:35
1200m reps 10K – 40 to 45 seconds 00:07:17 00:04:32
800m reps 10K – 45 to 50 seconds 00:07:12 00:04:28
400m reps 10K – 55 to 60 seconds 00:07:02 00:04:22

The most obvious difference between this plan and my previous one is the pace of the long run.  Last time I was running my Sunday miles between 5:50 & 6:00/km, whereas this time I’ll be running at 5:37/km. That difference in pace over 30km adds up to almost 12 minutes!

Another difference is the scheduled inclusion of an interval session. I really neglected the need for speed before, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these go. Especially as they say you’re more likely to PB in other distances after a successful marathon training cycle.

In terms of cross training, I’m planning on a mixture of Spinning, Bodypump and other strength-based classes.  I’ll also be trying to add a yoga session in once a week to keep injuries at bay, and I have a monthly sports massage booked in too.

After two weeks of sticking to the plan, my first impressions are really good.  Yes, the sessions are challenging, but as there are less to do I feel really motivated to make sure I do everyone.  Last time I ended up missing sessions due to injury or fatigue, so at this rate, I’ll probably end up running more overall than last time!

More on the weekly sessions to come…