6-Week 42km Training Plan

Running Form / Speed

Prior to every session, warm up with a 5-minute easy, then a 5-minute moderate workout that gets your heart pumping. Cool down with a 5-minute easy, then a 5-minute moderate run. “Fast strides” refers to a short burst of running with as high a stride rate as possible, says Shem Leong, a coach for Ironsguide and Athlete’s Circle. “Drive your elbows back to increase your stride rate,” he advises. It’s best done on a flat road, running track or treadmill. With each of these sets, rest for 30 seconds between sets, and keep your level of effort high, at 80 to 90 per cent of  maximum heart rate (MHR).

Core Workout

“A strong core is crucial to an efficient running form,” says Leong. This is his recommended core routine:

  • 3 x 1min front planks
  • 3 x 45sec side planks (left and right)
  • 20 rear supermans
  • 20 slow crunches
  • 15 straight leg raises
  • 30 upward dog pose (lie belly-down, then push yourself off the ground on your palms, keeping your toes pointed)

Speed Endurance
Start each session with a 10-minute moderate run, and finish with a 5-minute cool down and a 10-minute stretch.

Week 1 Do the 20x400m sets at 80 per cent MHR, finishing each lap strong, at above 90 per cent MHR.

Week 2 to 5 Run the first 800m of the 1km set at a comfortably hard pace, and finish up with 200m at a slow pace. It’s best done on the track, and keep your heart rate around 70 to 75 per cent. Finish each lap strong – keep your MHR close to, but not more than, 90 per cent. Rest for 1 minute in between laps.

Week 6 Do your first 8 laps at 60 per cent MHR, your next 4 laps at 70 per cent MHR, and your last 3 laps at 85 per cent MHR. Rest 1 minute in between laps.

Recovery Run / Rest
Do either a slow run at 60 to 70 per cent of your MHR, or take a rest.

Strength / Tolerance
For Week 1, recover with easy walks downhill after each hard uphill run.

Week 2 to 6 You’ll be doing negative splits. It’s a running method that starts out slowly, and progressively speeds up as it ends in a specified  time frame. Split up your runs in this fashion: 15 minutes at an easy pace, at 90 stride rates per minute (SRM, or the number of times your right foot hits the ground in a minute), the next 15 minutes at 92 to 94 SRM, and the last 15 minutes at more than 94 SRM. The distance covered in Week 4 and 5 are longer, so do a 20-20-20 split.

A high stride rate lets you develop a compact running stride, and prevents overstriding and wasting of energy. “Negative splits teach your body to slowly build pace in a race,” says Leong. “It’s crucial to keep the levels of effort clearly differentiated.”

Recovery / Core
Do a 10-minute warm-up – the core set for Tuesday – and a 10-minute easy, cool down run. “Easy runs after a hard session help  flush out residual metabolic waste from the legs, and builds in a little more training stimulus without causing further fatigue,” says  Leong. Still, if you don’t feel up to it, just take a break.

Do a long run with an easy to moderate effort. Focus on maintaining perfect form: Run tall and keep your stride rate high, says  Leong. He also advises using whatever race nutrition (gels, bananas, sport drinks) on these runs to get your body used to these  modes of nourishment. After every run, eat a meal of carbohydrates and protein within an hour.

Week 1 Throw in a set of 4x30sec fast strides when you are near the halfway mark of your long run to “wake up” your legs, just for the sake of variety, says Leong. When you reach the 50-minute mark, slow down to a recovery pace for 30 seconds. Keep your heart
rate around 60 to 70 per cent HRM.

Week 2 Do a set of 3x30sec fast strides at the halfway mark, and slow down to recovery pace at the 40- and 80-minute mark.

Week 3 Do a set of 3x30sec fast strides at the halfway mark, and slow down to a recovery pace for 30 seconds at the 45- and 90- minute mark.

Week 4 Do a set of 2x30sec fast strides at the halfway mark, and slow down to recovery pace for 30 seconds at the 40-, 80- and 120-minute mark.

Week 5 Do a set of 3x30sec fast strides at the halfway mark, and slow down to a recovery pace for 30 seconds. Your level of effort for this last run should be very easy.