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Winter Training | Part 2.1 Training Elements

Winter Training – Structuring

In last month’s article we wrote about a weekly training structure and that we would go into each element in more detail and depending on your goals how we would recommend structuring your winter programme.

Easy Miles/Rest

As with all types of training mileage is personal and different people like to run different volumes and the best thing you can do is find a volume that works for you. We often get asked about mileage volumes and we don’t like to use the terms ‘high mileage runners’ and ‘low mileage runners’ because what is high or low to one person isn’t the same for another. For example, 50 miles per week is high for somebody who usually runs 30miles per week and 50 miles per week is low for someone who typically runs 70miles. Training volume will flow and ebb depending on the phase you are in and how that individual week is made up.

When attempting to increase your mileage you should do it slowly, allow for adaptation which can take several weeks to months. There is a general rule of no more than 10% but we would say whatever changes you make will take time to adapt to so any increase should be done sensibly with a period of time to allow for the body to accept it without any additional new stimulus’.

Easy miles should be exactly that. They are there to help your body recover from harder sessions and workouts. We recommend having at least one or two easy mileage days before and after those tougher workouts. This allows your body to recover from the hard days and prepare for the next hard day whilst still getting in some gentle aerobic work and miles in the legs.

Longer Easy Miles + Hill Strides

As an extension of ‘Easy Miles’ we are advocates of longer easier miles followed by some kind of what we would call leg turn over work in the shape of hill strides or flat strides. The goal of this is aerobic development and time on legs. Some may call this a mid-week long run or a medium long run. For instance, if our normal easy mile runs are around 8-10 miles then this run will be 12-14 miles but that is very individual for everyone.

The strides on the end, whether flat or hill strides are there for leg turn over, to stretch the legs out and focus on form and drive. These are supposed to be hard but due to the nature of the extra miles and some faster running this isn’t a pure easy day. We would typically add this in once-a-week maximum typically the day before a hard day, so you have to remember that and not push it too much and empty the tank.


Intervals or reps are a red day. A hard day. This is a key, or the key session of most people’s training week and the objective can depend on the time of year. Through winter though most people’s interval sessions will be longer reps, shorter recoveries and have a strength endurance focus with the goal of strengthening and developing that base and as the winter develops and fitness builds getting closer to that race pace and at times that anaerobic capacity.

We would typically do a maximum of two of these types of sessions per week but typically we would do one plus another type of session and a long run, but it depends what the focus is and how our bodies feel.

Tempo or Threshold

A tempo or threshold is a different type of session or workout and not necessarily as intense as an interval session HOWEVER it is still a hard workout and should be treated as such. Some of our hardest training days have been tempo workouts as they can be long and relentless. You don’t get the benefit of regular recoveries and it’s a pace that is uncomfortable or toeing the red line where if you overstep it you start to struggle but a pace you can sustain for an extended period but that gets increasingly uncomfortable.

Again, we would typically do some type of tempo or threshold running once a week whether it be as a standalone session or within a long run (see below).

Long Run

The standard long run is a staple of any endurance runner’s week and training programme. The length of it varies dependant on what type of endurance runner you are and what you are preparing for. We would consider a standard ‘time on feet’ long run as a medium to red training day. This is pure endurance and base work – the length of it means even if the pace is easier it is still a significant workout.

Deciding how long your long run should be is personal and dependant on your background and your goals. If you typically run an hour on your easy runs during the week then having your long run as anywhere from 90minutes to 2hrs is reasonable depending on your goal distance. Sometimes if you were training for a marathon you may wish or need to go further. Its good if you can get some company for these runs to make the time go quicker. Some people also find listening to music helpful or finding a really scenic route to make the time pass quicker.

Productive Long Run

This is a marathon favourite, but it isn’t only appropriate for marathoners, it can be adjusting regardless of what distance you are running. Effectively take your long run distance and change some of those miles out for some harder efforts; whether it be some tempo work in the second half or some steadier reps and burst of faster running. We find these to be great fitness builders, but this is a hard day so be sure to run easier in the few days either side of this run. In our training plans on our website, they all utilise this style of long run as we believe it’s a really good way of getting some strength endurance, breaking up the monotony of a long run and giving some focus to those longer miles. This is a session we recommend you do once every two weeks, it can be a bit much to have in there every week with everything else you want to get in. Hence why we use a two-week programme rather than a weekly routine.

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