Educated Runner Audio Blog #3: Running in COVID-19 times part 2

The final follow-on on my segment with Eoin Flynn on the Trail Running Ireland podcast is done. Listen below or check the resources and the transcript here.

Two questions where left on the table:

The first question was ‘what are the best training formats in a 2 km radius’ and ‘how to find substitutes for the training you cannot do in your 2 km radius’.

Listen to podcast (Soundcloud)

Listen to podcast (Podomatic)

Podcast will be available shortly on Spotify, Castbox, Stitcher, and Deezer.



Out & Back, Circuit Run, Fartlek



Functional Patterns

Anatomy in Motion by Gary Ward



Even with your shoes on by Helen Hall

Running Rewired by Jay Dicharry


What are the best training formats in a 2 km radius?

There are only two types of sessions: consistent-paced or varied pace.

When you run at varied pace it is usually in order to be able to run more at faster / more intense paces than if you kept that pace up consistently

When you operate within a small area the first step is to survey what you have to work with:

  • Easy runs: let’s start with the obvious – most of your volume will be easy running no matter what you do. So the first thing you need to do is explore your local area like you have never explored it before and be creative with the different ways you can combine all the streets and trails within the radius. I’ve run the trails on my local mountain in all sorts of ways I never did before: loops, figures of 8, and combinations of loops and out and back segments
    • This is proving to be enormously beneficial because I used to always think I should drive somewhere to keep my training varied and avoid boredom. Now I know I can do so much more from the door than I thought.
    • You might discover new little hills and streets for your work you were never aware of – and they are there to be used on the busy days you’ll have when things return to normal and you don’t want to drive
  • Out and back: 2 km out and 2 km back stretches from your address is a great route choice if you’re looking to keep your effort consistent – especially if the 2 km stretch is relatively flat. A great workout – called an Out and Back is done at steady pace (marathon pace for faster runners). It’s a pace judgement workout where the main goal is to ensure you can return to your house in roughly the same time that it took you to run to the turn-point without upping your effort very much. If you can do this you’re in the tzone of ‘training, not straining’.
  • Circuit runs: usually you can construct a good circuit somewhere within your 2 km radius whether it’s a 400m or 1 km loop of a park or a residential block, a field or a car park. These routes are great for any type of workout where your harder effort and your recovery are of equal duration.
    • A classic Kiwi workout I learned from Keith Livingstone consists of running one lap at a ‘steady’ or ‘moderate’ pace (by feel) which is usually marathon to 10 mile pace for most runners and then running one lap easy.
    • Such workouts are very easy to progress because you can simply increase the speed of the easy run. If you want to increase the speed of the faster lap, you normally hav eto make the part of the circuit you run at fast pace shorter
      • For instance, if you have a nice 600m loop around your house with a clear marker about 300m through (let’s say ‘Woodies’) you can decide to run ‘hard’ to that point an then ‘cruise’ easy until you get back to the start of the loop again (this would give a session with 300m hard, 300m easy
  • Fartleks: Fartleks are great in most parts of training because they are self-directed lowering the risk of overtraining. They are great way to remind your body of whatever paces you feel like running at without going overboard. In our current situation the big advantage of Fartlek is the flexibility: you can literally just use the ‘lap’ button on your watch to change pace whenever you feel like it.
  • Use your watch: with modern watches you can program nearly any workout you want. You can even add in a virtual partner set at a certain speed to compete with you as a quiet replacement for your regular training partner. If you do this, you can run anywhere and get an interesting workout. Simple workouts are good to start with if you are new to this. The typical introductory workout for learning hard repetitions is called ‘30/30’ and was invented by a French researcher called Veronique Billat. The basic idea is to run 30 seconds a bit faster than your 3k race pace (or just very hard if you don’t know what that is) and then ‘float’ gently through 30 seconds of recovery. You do this until you cannot keep the effort consistent anymore (usually 10 minutes to start with). The beauty of this workout is that your heart rate will usually be high for most of the 10 minutes – but your legs will only work hard for 5 minutes! More experienced runners can extend up to 20 or 30 minutes or do several sets of 10 minutes with 5-minute jogs in between each. They can also eventually extend – as Billat recommended – to 60/60s and eventually 3 minutes ON, 3 minutes OFF (usually repeated 4-6 times).

How do you substitute training you cannot do within your 2 km radius?

Since nothing beats the original, the absolute best thing to do is to use the situation to your advantage. So, if you have only hills around you, do a hill block now – use the situation instead of trying to counter it. If you only have flat around you, then this is the time to focus n your flat speed even if that was not your original plan

Still some easy substitutions:

  • Flat speed work:
    • ‘hills are speedwork’ in disguise. Do your planned sessions on the hills instead. If the focus is intensity, then do it up a hill for roughly the same duration that your reps would have been. If you run 400m repetitions in 70 seconds, then do 70 second hill repeats.
    • Downhill is a fantastic tool for leg speed development, so if you had planned flat strides or sprint training, do it on the shallowest downhill you can find and you will benefit from the downhill which will allow you to run faster than you normally can – stimulating your nervous system and preparing it for faster running on the flat later.
  • Hills: treadmill with incline (but different muscle groups!)
    • Plyometrics (explosive jumping with little ground contact time) and skpping (with a rope) if you know if it. Traditional ABC and SAC drills and any type of strength and conditioning that has some relation to running
    • Weighted training (run with your race pack for instance for more resistance)
    • Sprint parachute
    • Staircase: a great replacement for hill sprints especially and if you happen to have access to a stadium for longer climbs.
  • Trails:
    • If you are training for trails and only have pavements and road to run on, you are short on options. The best you can do is look for a few grassy areas to run on. If there are no options, you are better off just working with what you’ve got – the training will transfer to a large degree to trails. Just ensure you get on the trails as soon as we are set free.
  • Strength and conditioning circuits:
    • If you’re stuck in your flat as some runners in some countries are, this is a great time to invest in some online training that can be done in the house but that is specifically targeted at improving gait. Some good systems are Functional Patterns and Anatomy in Motion and MovNat – all of which offer online courses so you can follow along. There are also several books you can buy which will give you a program to follow such as Helen Hall’s ‘Even with your shoes on’ and Jay Dicharry’s ‘Running rewired’
    • A quick search on YouTube will reveal many more. I generally recommend trying out whatever is free from the source and see what motivates you the most to get started on. The key is doing the exercises consistently. So often it’s better to get a really good consistent routine doing the second best exercise in the world rather than never getting started on the best exercise in the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s