New runner - some help please of where to go from here (Read 251 times)


    Hi everyone. This is my first post. I've spent a lot of time going back through previous threads about distance versus speed and have picked up a huge amount of advice, but still have a couple of questions!


    Background: I'm 50, female, 5'2", 54.5kg. No one would ever describe me as overweight, but personally I'd feel happier at 52kg and with a bit less on the belly ;0. I know I need to incorporate some weights work for that.


    I've been a very fair weather jogger for a couple of years, running a couple of km a couple of times a week.  Last summer I decided (with my 50th birthday looming in the October) that I wanted to take getting fit more seriously. I did the c25k and then started a Lucozade 10k training plan I found by googling. I made the typical rookie mistake of not sticking to the plan, and did too much, too fast, too soon. I lost 3 months to a glutes injury which needed a lot of physio to put right. Since then I've worked on strengthening my glutes through specific stretches and no longer have any problems.


    I finished the 10k plan, managing to run it in 73 minutes, so I'm a typical slow beginner runner. I'm now running another Lucozade 10k plan which aims to get my time down to 60 minutes. I do 4 sessions a week, including one tempo and one interval. Having read so much of the advice on here I can see I should be ditching the tempos and intervals for now and work on building up my weekly mileage.


    i don't plan to race, I don't know what my long term goals are, but for the short term I just want to get fitter, and be able to run further. I would love to be able to build up to 25 miles a week, as a start, then see where I go from there.


    My question boils down to this: in order to build up my mileage I understand the advice is to increase by 10% a week. Should I translate that into a time figure, and increase my mileage that way, or do I literally increase my mileage, and the time increase will be whatever it takes to run the mileage?


    My thoughts of where I think I'd like to be aiming would be (all EASY runs):


    Mon run 40 mins (that would be about 3 miles at my current pace)

    Tues same

    Weds run 60 mins

    Thurs run 40 mins

    Fri run 40mins

    Sat rest

    Sun run 90 mins


    looking at my training log do you think this would be too much at this stage? Currently my 5k ish easy runs feel very nice and easy, and the 10k long runs I've done have been hard, but I have felt as though there's been a bit more left in the tank.


    any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated Smile thanks in advance

       Having read so much of the advice on here I can see I should be ditching the tempos and intervals for now and work on building up my weekly mileage.


      Your answer is right there. Consistency and simplicity are your best friends. Whether you approach it by amount of time on feet or by amount of mileage isn't particularly important, either. Whichever one works better for you mentally is fine. Run consistently, mostly easy, occasionally faster, build your base, and you'll improve steadily. It really can be that simple for a good long while. There's plenty of time to overcomplicate it down the road.

      Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

      an amazing likeness

        I wouldn't advise you to change a thing.  The best thing about your plan is that it is based on time and not distance -- bravo!  That approach will work best for you -- as you get faster, you'll cover more distance.  On slower days, less distance -- regardless, you'll be building time on your feet. Just do it.


        That 10% thing is just a common sense thing that got turned into a "rule".  If you're running 25 miles/week steadily, don't got all crazy and have your next increase take you to 45 miles/week -- that's all it's saying.  Ramp up at a reasonable (and individual) rate.


        Ok, one tweak you might consider is to shorten Monday as a recovery from your longer run on Sunday, then bring Tuesday to 60 min. But there's no need to be rigid about the structure of the week -- mix your 40min and 60min and get to 90min one day and you'll be great.

        I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)


           i don't plan to race, I don't know what my long term goals are, but for the short term I just want to get fitter, and be able to run further. I would love to be able to build up to 25 miles a week, as a start, then see where I go from there.



          These are GREAT goals.  Run easy, run often, and let your body tell you how fast to increase time/miles.


          We all improve at our own rates.  In my case, it took all summer to get to 15 MPW, until the following spring to get to 20 MPW, and another full year to get to 30 MPW. And now a ten mile run is easy.

            Carolyn:  welcome to RA !    I love your attitude & stick to it ness (is that really 4 words?).   You got some incredable responses so far & I would also go with those who say "time on your feet" and consistency on getting out there are the most important aspects to improve your running (and therefore life) fitness.  I'm sort of anal on this running stuff so thought I would break things down to #'s


            last 6 weeks your average is just over 11mpw.  You mentioned at the end of your post where you would like to be at & you also said that 40 minutes is around 3 miles for you (or just over 13 minutes/mile).  So that weekly plan has you at 310 minutes.  At 13 minutes/ mile that comes out to just under 24 miles/week.   jumping from 11 mpw to 24mpw is a huge jump!!    I would caution you to take several weeks to make that jump.    15 miles/195 mns  18 miles/230 mns   21 miles/270 mns   18miles/230 mns    23 miles/295 mns.  25 miles/325 mns.     or something like that.  nothing set in stone, everyone is different & so so many variable but you get the idea.  then once you get up to  20-25 mpw consistently  you could start considering throwing in some shorter faster stuff.  Just one thought about how to go about things.


            so many ways to go about this but dont be in any hurry,  take it slow & easy & have fun with it.   you have a great attitude & good sense about  you.  this is only March & you have lots of time to build up to any mid summer or  fall events that look like fun for you.   good luck !


              Thanks so much for all your replies - and the encouragement . I know this is a tortoise v hare situation, and I know it's going to take me  a long time to get where I want to be. I feel as though my biggest achievement to date is to feel as though running has become a habit. So much so that I will now go out and run even if it's pouring with rain. Just 6 weeks ago I don't think I would have been able to say that.


              skyedog, thank you for suggesting a 'mini-plan' for a gradual build up over the next few weeks. That sounds very doable. My weekly averages are currently a bit low due to the fact that once a month I have to spend a week away from home (I live in SW France, and work from here most of the time, but once a month spend a week at my office in London). Over the winter I wasn't able to run during those weeks, as I don't feel comfortable running alone in the dark on the streets, but now that the days are getting longer I will be able to run after I finish work each day so that alone is going to push my averages up.


              So, I'll be taking it slow and steady and enjoying the journey . Thanks again for all your help.


                Checking in with an update.

                I've been broadly following skyedog's suggestion for building up my mileage, and this week I have broken the 25 mile goal. Woo hoo!

                All thanks to the advice received here - I wouldn't have got there without it in such a structured way! - so thank you again for your help.


                I now have 5 straight weeks of 20 miles + behind me. My longest run has been 13.5km/8.4 miles. My next goal is to get my longest run up to 10 miles. I feel as though that goal is very achievable within the next month or so as the slow and steady build up over the last few weeks has really improved my stamina and strength.


                I'm also thinking about starting to introduce some interval and tempo runs to try and get my mileage rate down a bit. Is now the right time to be thinking of doing this? If so, any advice and suggestions of how to go about this would again be very much appreciated. I'm running 5 times a week, and to build up my mileage I have been doing a mix of 40mins, 60 mins and 90 mins runs, with my longest run having been 100 mins. At my current rate I guess 10 miles is going to take me about 120 mins. I don't mind scaling back my overall mileage per week if I can improve my running times, and in any event I'm pretty much at the limit of the amount of time per week I can give to my running so if I swap the odd 40 mins / 60 mins easy runs for shorter but more intense tempo/interval runs I'd expect my mileage to drop a bit.


                Alternatively should I stick with my slow and steady runs for a bit longer?


                Thanks again.

                Gang Name "Pound Cake"

                  If you don't want to race, why the push to do tempo and intervals? Racing is fun as it's a contest against oneself (for 99% of us anyway), and often has a social, party atmosphere to it. That said, don't be in such a rush. Intervals hurt and for many, have a high potential for injury. Instead, try a weekly hill session. Read up on hills and do them once a week instead of any other speed work. Hills are speed work in disguise and a bit less likely to invite injury (but monitor your body closely).


                  You can also do strides at the end of one or two of your weekly easy runs. This is a safer way to introduce speed. Try hills and strides for a 2 or 4 months before even thinking of other speed sessions. You will get stronger and faster and less likely to be hurt.


                  On the mileage increase of 10%. Don't make the mistake of thinking you should do this week after week. Look at marathon programs. They have weeks where you increase, weeks where you hold steady, and weeks where you drop back down for a bit of recovery. It isn't a linear progression. Realize that at 50 (I'm older), your body needs extra time to adapt to stress.

                  - Scott

                  2014 Goals: First Marathon - BQ2016 <3:40 (3:25:18) - 1/2M <1:45 - 5K <22:00

                  2014 Marathons: 05/04 Flying Pig (3:49:02) - 09/20 Air Force (BQ 3:25:18) - 11/01 Indianapolis Monumental


                    Thanks cheeseburger, that's very helpful.


                    On the issue of racing, even if I wanted to do so, it's not realistic. I live in a rural backwater in south west France so would have to travel to race, which isn't possible for me due to various reasons.


                    Whilst I don't have any great desire to race,  I don't really see why I shouldn't aim to reduce my running pace a bit, just for my own satisfaction. My current pace is just under 12 minutes per mile. If I could gradually cut that down over a loooong period of time to, say, 11 minutes a mile I would feel a whole lot better about my running, and it doesn't seem to me to be a crazy goal as long as I take it slow and steady to minimise the risk of injury. It's not as though I want to be running 7 or 8 minute miles - I know my limits  but having got to this point I feel fantastic, and I know I could pick up my pace ever so slightly from where it is now, without there being a high risk of overdoing it and injuring myself.


                    Thank you you very much for your suggestion of incorporating some hill work and strides into my training plan, in lieu of intervals and tempo runs. I will definitely  look to start incorporating those for the next few months, and see how I get on with that before thinking about tempo/interval runs.  Re the mileage, having got to my goal of 25 miles a week, I'm really not hung up about increasing that even more, and if at some point in the future I did want to increase, it wouldn't be at anything like 10% week after week. I appreciate that at my age it's entirely possible to overdo it 


                    Onwards and upwards!

                    Gang Name "Pound Cake"

                      Just running more miles will make you faster. See the bottom average pace chart on my log. Went from 13 minute miles to around 9 minute mile averages with just increasing mileage and no speed work. Really no hill work either. Adding more miles is the easiest way to get faster. But if you don't want to run more than what you are now, then strides and hill work will do the trick too. In order I would say a progression might be:


                      1) more running

                      2) incorporate strides on easy days

                      3) weekly hills

                      4) weekly tempo

                      5) weekly interval session


                      But don't do hills and tempo and intervals all in the same week. Something like six to eight week periods of each in rotation.

                      - Scott

                      2014 Goals: First Marathon - BQ2016 <3:40 (3:25:18) - 1/2M <1:45 - 5K <22:00

                      2014 Marathons: 05/04 Flying Pig (3:49:02) - 09/20 Air Force (BQ 3:25:18) - 11/01 Indianapolis Monumental


                        I would say that anything more than one speed or hill workout a week, is too much for a newbie, especially someone over 50.


                        Options are to add

                        - yoga and/or full body resistance training

                        - spin class, swimming, or high-intensity training or other high-intensity gym class



                        - one long run a week (run/walk is fine)

                        - 2 easy, 30 to 50 minute run/walks

                        - one interval/tempo or hill workout a week


                        See if there is a local running group that caters for all abilities. That way you'll get to do speed workouts designed by and under the supervision of a coach.

                        Certified Running Coach
                        Crocked since 2013

                          You might incorporate fartleks into one of your weekly runs.  That is a very unstructured bit of speedwork, where you go faster (moderately hard to hard) for some distance (to the next mailbox or a tree or a fence or the end of the block) and then jog slowly until you have your breath back and it feels easy, then pick it up again to another mailbox, then jog for a bit.  Starting out, the distance could be fairly small, but you could increase that over time.  The idea is to teach your legs to move faster and build lung capacity.  Plus it's fun.


                            Good luck Carolyn, I didn't start running until just before my 50.


                            I'm totally lazy and wouldn't run much at all unless I raced, the type of training you are doing is designed for someone who races not someone who wants to keep fit. Without entering races you will never know your potential or how much you are improving.



                            id seriously recommend you try to do the odd race or two, even if you are in London for only a week there are a lot of Park Runs all,over London on Saturdays that are 5k free and if you register in advance you can just turn up and run they are informal and cater for every ability.  BIlly a member of my club has just done his 100th at the age of 71. http://www.parkrun.org.uk


                            Also look in the user groups for the"  UK Runners Forum" as we have a couple of members who live in London, although of late the forum has been somewhat quite.

                            Old age is when you move from illegal to prescribed drugs.



                              You are doing great & staying on course in your running!  I think you are ready to add abit of faster stuff or hills but not at the expense of any mileage or "time on your feet" or possibliity of injury.   I would suggest if you want to add alittle bit more intensity then keep the same mindset/philosphy that you have utililized up to this point.    Keep the mileage at 20-25 mpw & begin to mix in faster stuff in small amounts  Don't worry about set "intervals"  for awile. Mix things up. 3-5 minutes of faster pace couple times somewhere in your run (after you are warmed up) or at end of your run.  Do these on 2 of your weekly runs, keep everything else the same.  Fartleks are fun, so you could do those.  Start adding small amounts of hill work at harder effort  somewhere in the week.    Or 30 seconds hard, 2-3 minutes easy, repeat 4-5x.   Lots of different things you can do but again keep your same mindset by adding small increments of harder intensity stuff & don't be in any hurry. To sum it all up, keep up your current mileage & work on your goal of building to a 10 mile run. Do some of the above stuff for a few weeks SLOWLY building the amount of added stress/intensity.  After a few weeks reevaulate & see how you are handling it.  Mix it up & have some fun with it!


                              be careful not to mess it up & do too much too soon.  You are doing great so far!!


                                Thank you to everyone who has responded to my post. Lots of advice, guidance and thoughts in there for me to take on board. I really appreciate everyone's help.


                                For now, I think I'll just keep on doing what I've been doing - steady 20 - 25 miles a week, build up my long run to 10 miles, and throw in one or two 'short bursts of faster running' in a couple of shorter (5-7k) sessions each week. I'll make sure I ring the changes with occasional hills / fartleks etc, but always keeping to slow, steady and comfortable enough not to risk injury


                                Jules2 - thanks for suggestions re running when I am in London. Unfortunately I always travel over on a Sunday and back home on Fridays, so never there for Saturdays. However, I am now entered in a 5k in the City in July - it's a team based run and I'm going to be running with some of my work colleagues. We're a real mix of abilities, so very low key and no pressure, but I'm looking forward to seeing what a race environment is like.