Rugby to Running

Hi all,

I'm somewhere in the middle of a transition from rugby to running, the injuries have piled up over the years and it's getting harder to justify being battered and bruised (or worse!) on Sundays as I approach 40 and need to chase after little ones. Still not ready to give it up yet but I'm hoping that a move over to running with some 5k and 10k races will satisfy a need for some competition.

I've got a regular out and back 5k from my house which is my regular run and I got down to 21:58 recently after a bit more consistency in getting out 3-4 times a week. Weekly distances have been low though as each run was the same 5k.

I'm hoping to crack on a bit now and keep pushing down to 20mins as the same round number that seems to be a common target. From a read around it appears that I'm really lacking in base aerobic fitness so longer runs are the main thing I need to add. Yesterday I got out for 15k in a little under 1:35:00 at an average HR of 143. My knees aren't complaining too much so I'll take that as a win. Sadly I don't enjoy the longer runs the same as I do pushing myself over 5k but I guess I need to suck it up.

Shifting some weight would help too, I'm currently 76kg at 170cm. Getting rid of an excess 10kg would likely have me below 20 mins already!

Anyway, background aside, advice on how to best improve would be greatly appreciated. As I said above I normally run 3-4 times a week, 5k in around 22-23 mins with a high 160s to low 170 HR. I'm planning on adding a long slow run at the weekend with a target HR at 140-145 (so a little under 75% HR max and also swapping the other 5ks to a structured session and a medium length run, maybe an hour or is that still too short?

For reference I did a 1k test run (just on the GPS watch) recently in 3:37, which I ran very hard but would have shaved off quite a bit in a "race" I imagine. That's what's really prompted me to look at base aerobic fitness, it feels Iike I'm already dropping off from 1k to 5k and the 6:15 min/km of my recent longer run to keep under 145 HR seemed very slow indeed. Is that how it looks to more experienced people here?

As I said, any tips appreciated!


  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi mcjoc - your current 5K time is very good, one I'd like to achieve myself  :D

    You're absolutely right in terms of building up the endurance side of things. I wouldn't get too forensic about the pace you manage on your long slow runs. 6:15 min/km will seem slow as you're used to running a lot quicker than that on your 5K runs, however it follows the 80/20 principle where 80% of your running should be at an easy pace and the other 20% at a hard tempo pace. So your long runs are more about time on feet and building up that aerobic fitness.

    Heart Rate Zone is useful in that it a keep you honest when doing these types of runs. You'll find, over time, that you will naturally speed up to be able to achieve your target heart rate. 

    I'd suggest introducing some speed sessions into your training routine, i.e. 400m repeats or some pyramid sessions. You'll find that those, in conjunction with the longer runs, will really help in taking time off your 5K.
  • Thanks Guarddog, I was pretty happy with that 5k, would still like to keep shaving time off though!

    I started doing the 45 minute 10k coach plan on my Garmin watch last week just for some structure and there are some speed sessions in that. 8x 20 strides, the pace was a bit up and down between the reps, a few down or just below 3min/k pace and the rest mostly below 3:20.

    This week has a session of 5x minute repeats at 3:55-4:08 then 4x minute repeats at 3:27-3:40. the second half of that looks fairly tasty.

    Then later in the week 3x 3 minutes at 4:23-4:36 followed by 5x 30s at 3:27-3:40 which looks quite a bit easier.

    No long run in the plan this week though, the other three sessions are 45 minute easy runs, all by pace rather than HR which wends up being around 5:30 at 160bpm.

    All in all it doesn't feel particularly optimised so I might ditch it soon and look for something a bit more attuned to me, but then maybe it will improve and what do I know?
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