Importance of variety in your training

To get the most out of training getting a good spread of different runs and sessions within training is key for enhancing performance.

Maximising the variety of training you do will help your body to build strength, speed and more. Getting a mix of training sessions and runs in during the week will help your body utilise different energy systems which can help you improve on any training deficits, along with increasing the enjoyably, (and therefore your enthusiasm) for training by making your running schedule more diverse and interesting.

This is a huge topic which can be summed up in many thousands of words, so I’m going to try and condense it down to some of the fundamentals:


·         Getting used to running at a wide range of paces during the week –- A lot of this will unfold naturally from the running you’ll do in the below points, but generally it is good training to get your body used to running at a range of paces. From steady and easy running to build volume, to tempo work at a comfy/quick pace to improve lactate tolerance, to faster interval work and slow recovery runs, the benefits of doing structured training and training specific-runs will naturally bring about different paced runs.

Running the same pace for every run you undertake will not promote an efficient training stimulus, utilise different muscles or energy systems, and will most likely involve mental and physical burn out.  


·         Varying your long runs – its good practice to vary the distance of your long run on a regular basis. Especially think about doing shorter runs on weeks with more intense speed work to assist recovery, and longer runs on weeks where you haven’t done as much work. Having this adaptable, flexible approach will mean you get the variety in your runs. It’s also worth noting here that for those who do trail long runs, your pace would be naturally slower, so  you will be spending longer on your feet for a shorter distance compared to a road, so for most of the time, try to think of your long runs in the timed-based frame of mind, not so much distance.

Some long runs you may want to adjust the speed focus- so shorter flatter road runs ran more steady, and longer slower trail runs emphasising more endurance for example. Again, what you emphasise all depends on the event you train for and how your training week works out.   

Varying your speed work –- it’s good to tick off most types of speed work to cover your bases and develop all the relevant energy systems ready for use in race performance. Try to get into a habit of doing tempo and interval work weekly, along with occasional hills and more general aerobic-strength work like progressives as well. It’s important to think about how best you can utilise such sessions to fit around your schedule, so coming up with a timetable for it (over a month, or more) can help you see things from an overhead perspective.

There’s no right or wrong with what you chose to focus on speed-wise for a given period, providing it makes sense for the event you’re training for (e.g., non-excessive sprint work for marathon runners) Some of you may want to spend a few weeks emphasising tempo, and then a few weeks emphasising hills etc., or try to get variety in on a week-by week basis. Whatever works best for you is key, and it may take some trial and error to get it right.


Varying your mileage ---Mileage shouldn’t be something pre-determined. You shouldn’t look to reach an arbitrary mileage number each week, instead whatever weekly mileage you end up doing should be the result of the training sessions/runs you do. And any training sessions you do should be a result of training load/any tiredness/lifestyle commitments and any adjustments needed – this way you can make sure you’re not over extending yourself and risking injury or burnout.

It’s also good practice in general to have higher and lower weeks of training to help with recovery/adaption and also mental freshness.


Varying the terrain you run on --- Road runners will benefit from getting a mixture of trail work in from time to time. It will help with general strength and coordination and give some time to focus on working muscles not usually utilised on the road. Trail-only runners will also benefit from including the odd road run in, which enables you to run at a more continuous steady-state, which works your body in a different way aerobically.

It’s also good to change terrain for speed work from time to time for a different focus. Doing tempo for example on grassy fields can help with strength building and throwing in tempos now and then over hilly surfaces road or tail can add an extra aerobic stimulus.


Bottom line is variations in your training schedule will naturally come about if you chose a variety of speed sessions which determines what kind of easy/long mileage are best to do around it. So go with the flow on this. Variety in training stimulates different muscle groups at different times, helps to fine-tune aerobic endurance, develop general strength and keeps training mentally refreshing.

Cameron Harris- Head Coach