Training for Cigna Round the Bays: Time to Get Speedy

Wellington Round the Bays training

By Hayden Shearman // With just three weeks till the starter gun goes off at Frank Kitts Park for the 2015 Cigna Round the Bays, now is the time to add some speed to your run training.

Think of your preparation for a race like building a pyramid. The base is the gradual build up of mileage you did back before Christmas—all run at an easy, conversational pace. The next level is the strength work you might have done on hills or fartlek-type speed training in January. And then the final cap on the top of the pyramid is a few weeks of faster running.

Typically, because of the new demands it places on your body and the days you’ll need to recover, just two speed sessions per week is the most that our bodies can handle. So between now and race day you’ve got 5-6 opportunities to take your inner-Ferrari for a spin.

Here are some ideas on how and where you can do those workouts (for each workout include 15 minutes of light jogging before and after to make sure you’re fully warmed up and recovered):

1) Tempo Run: Wellington Waterfront

The first time you do this workout run for 20 minutes at your lactate threshold pace (find out your lactate threshold pace here—it is typically the pace you can hold for a one hour race or somewhere between your 10k and half marathon race pace). For the second tempo run you do, step it up to 30 or 40 minutes (ideally do this workout about 7-11 days before the race as it is very challenging and will give you plenty of confidence if you can nail it).

Tip: The flat terrain of the waterfront and its brass markers are perfect for gauging your pace on a tempo run (the markers are every 500m from Ferg’s Kayaks all the way around the bays to Kilbirnie).  

The Wellington waterfront has brass plates on the footpath marking every 500m for 6k.

The Wellington waterfront has brass plates on the footpath marking every 500m for 6k.

2) Intervals: Newton Park (or other track)

The classic track workout is to do something like 8x400m repetitions. But this sort of workout is actually better suited to a middle distance runner who will run those 400m reps very quickly. For training for Round the Bays (for 6.5, 10 or 21.1k), we’re better off training closer to race pace by running the longer 800m intervals at your 5k race pace. Do 5x800m with a 400m jog in-between each or a 1-minute complete rest.

Tip: Most athletics tracks are 400m around, so complete two laps per interval. Do the first lap in lane 4 from the 400m staggered start line and then run the second lap in lane 1 to keep things interesting and avoid the wear and tear on the inside lane. Newtown Park is open and free for training most of the time but occasionally there will be bookings or other events on.

Elite runners in action at Wellington's top speed training ground Newtown Park.

Elite runners in action at Wellington’s top speed training ground Newtown Park. Photo: Rowan Greig.

3) Strides: At any Beach or Park

A stride or stride out is a short burst of controlled fast running designed to develop good running form and remind your body that it can run fast. If you do a key workout like a tempo run or intervals on the Tuesday, then on the Saturday you might do strides as they stress a slightly different system in your body and aren’t as mentally taxing as the longer workouts.

Do an easy-paced run of 30-60mins and, in the final 10mins of this run, do strides at a location that has a nice soft surface underfoot (Lyall or Titahi Bay at low tide are both perfect, as are the grass surfaces of Petone Rec, Trentham Memorial Park, Karori Park, or Waitangi Park). Do strides of either 8×10 seconds, 4x20secs or 3x30secs.

Tip: Strides are not sprints. They should be run somewhere between 80 and 95% of your maximum speed and should have a good recovery of 60-120 seconds light jogging between each. Focus on good tall posture, fast leg turnover, strong arm drive, and pushing the ground back with your feet.

The flat green grass of Trentham Memorial Park is ideal for running strides.

The flat green grass of Trentham Memorial Park is ideal for running strides.

4) Race: parkrun or Waterfront 5k

More on this next week, but our three parkruns (free entry every Saturday morning 8am at Lower Hutt, Waikanae and Porirua) and the Waterfront 5k ($8 every Tuesday from 5pm at Chicago Sports Bar, Queens Wharf) are perfect for getting in a good workout in a fun and supportive environment.

Tip: Start these events slightly slower than you think you should because 9 out 10 participants will typically start out way too fast and up crawling home. Save something for a big finishing sprint!

Wellington Waterfront 5k

Happy fast running.

Like this blog post? Grab yourself a copy of the must-have book Runner’s Guide to Wellington!

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8 responses to “Training for Cigna Round the Bays: Time to Get Speedy

  1. I really like the pyramid analogy. But I’ve got to say that depending on how hard I’m training even two days of speed / week can be a bit much for me.

    • Thanks for the comments golddh. And you’re right that some people can only do one speed session a week (and some people can’t do any speed depending on injury issues and the stage of training they might be in).

      My big key with speed work is that you should always finish a session knowing you could have done a little more. Races are for emptying the tank, but training is for making you a better runner tomorrow than you are today. So it pays to just ease yourself into it and err on the side of less being more, rather than risking injury and depleting your mental reserves. Hope that helps. 🙂

  2. For the technical difficulty of weaving in and out of large masses, you can’t go past the Wellington Waterfront at the moment. Quite literally, you won’t be able to get past the hordes of fat-bottomed cruise ship waddlers on your tempo run.

    • Hi Matt, Yeah the waterfront can be a congested place! Early mornings are best. As is saving your speed work until you’re past Fisherman’s Table. I’ve had plenty of close calls when in a daze finishing off a long tempo and navigating the bridges near the lagoon! 😉

    • Thanks Amanda. Yeah I love the waterfront 5k races. Aside from running Round the Bays, the Wellington Waterfront 5k were the first races I entered and they gave me the bug for running. Then I met my coach through Scottish and joined the club and the rest is history! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Training for Cigna Round the Bays: The Final Countdown | A Runner's Guide·

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