4km run commute, training advice please.

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 JayPee630 01 Nov 2021

Hi all,

Suggestions and advice welcome please for this...

I start a new job in January, it's about 4km on the roads (bit off path) from where I live (obviously could be more, but it'd be a very contrived route).

So I want to run and use it for some baseline cardio training.

So, how would you structure this run, considering I'll be doing it 3 (sometimes 4) times a week (probably not consistent same days as work shifts)?

Would do you some steady pace, intervals, a faster one, and rotate them about on some 12 week (?) schedule? Or something else?

I have no great delusion it'll be a great training plan, but I want to use it for something as I'll be so knackered from work the exercise I do out of work will reduce!

Aged 49, male, OK fitness overall, I have run lots in the past (sub-20 mins 5km, and 5.30 mile) and done alright amount of weight lifting. Now train mostly for overall health and all-round strength and conditioning rather than to be a 'runner' or 'weight lifter' any more, so no specific run goals to fulfil.

Suggestions very welcome, thanks.

Post edited at 17:23
 ablackett 01 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

What’s your current baseline level of running?

If you are going from not much to 6-8 x4km in a week that’s a big step up.

I’d consider building up slowly perhaps drive half way, or bike twice a week to start.

When you are ready keep one run steady and use another for some sprint reps or 1km efforts.

Perhaps once every couple of weeks have a 4km race effort.

Dont go flat out every run.

Do listen to your body, take it steady or take the day off if you are knackered.

In reply to JayPee630:

I'd do every other day (Mon, Wed, Fri) at a steady, able to talk kinda pace. That way you build a base and dont get injured. Then do Parkrun or a race at the weekend, or start to build up to longer runs. Treat the daily commute like recovery run. Two fast runs a day, or even one and a jog, will take a toll.

 JayPee630 02 Nov 2021
In reply to ablackett:

Not running at all at the moment, but easily knock out a few 45 min runs a week very quickly once I do start (I tend to do a few months of running every so often) and ran upto an hours 3 times a week for 8 weeks a couple of months ago.

Yeah, I think maybe a run there 3 times a week and then bus home 3 times to start. And then build up to the full 6 times a week.

In reply to the other poster, I won't be able to choose days of work, so one on one off won't work. I think steady mostly and then maybe one interval-like session a week.

Will be doing strength work in the gym 3 days a week as well which will be the main stressor.

Post edited at 08:36
In reply to JayPee630:

Is it 4km there or 4km there and back? If the latter that is quite a lot of distance to ramp up to without the risk of injury or just feeling completely worked! I would do it all at an very easy pace to begin with then once you are happy with the mileage start ramping up the speed

In reply to JayPee630:

Walk it fast week 1, jog /walk week 2, and so on. You can dive into it of course, your muscle strength will cope, but ligaments and tendons take much longer to strengthen as we age and aren't likely very elastic just now. If you want to still be doing it in 3 months time I'd forget about doing efforts, speed work etc until after Xmas. 

 tlouth7 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

I can't help with the training aspect, but as a suggestion I used to do something similar. I would cycle in and run home, then the next (working) day run in and cycle home. The key benefit was that on the second day I was forced to drag myself out of bed and run to work, as my bicycle was already there. You may find this valuable if you want to avoid getting the bus too often.

In reply to JayPee630:

I've  just started running in again after lockdown yesterday, mines a bit further circa  7km each way and now have to  carry my laptop there and back in my bag as I split it up with working from home and only work a couple of days a week, I'll be primarily using the commutes as plodding along and getting extra miles in  to build the base as  I think any sort of tempo run with the bag on won't  be that pleasant.  

 Nic Barber 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

+ 1 for the walk for the first week (or a bit more).

2 x 4km walk will start to build the aerobic base, just make sure it's active walking and not dawdling along looking at your phone! Active walking will only take about 40mins (on the flat anyway)

Build up slowly, but given your background you can maybe go a bit quicker than a complete newbie, so listening to your body is probably more important.

 JayPee630 02 Nov 2021
In reply to Garethza:

Yeah, 4km there and 4km back.

I used to cycle but been totally put off by bad car drivers around where I live, and it feels too much faff, stress, and risk for me now, so will be run or get a lift/bus/taxi as alternative.

Good plan for the brisk walk, I think I'll start with that one way, run one way, and then see how it goes for a few months. Have to late January to think about it as that's when the job starts.

 mountainbagger 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

Do you have showers at work? Might influence whether you "go hard" on your way in!

I have a similar short commute of about 3km...I used to run it too hard, then run at lunchtime with colleagues the run home! Big mistake. I thought it was fine as it was so short, but the length wasn't the problem, it was the number of runs I was doing in a day between bouts of sitting at a desk, without warming up and going too fast (damn Strava segments!)...ended up with an overuse injury.

Agree with starting with walking. At least in one direction then jogging the other direction. You can always extend the jogging one a bit in good weather (I do as the extension takes me a much nicer route off-road).

Nothing wrong with eventually running both ways but I would probably always make one direction easy/recovery and extend or change up (e.g. intervals or tempo) the other direction a couple of times a week.

In reply to JayPee630:

My caution is because we are a similar age, injuries are easily acquired and hard to shift. We can't get away with what we may have done when younger, building up progressively, warm ups and cool downs, stretching and rest all matter more than ever. 

In reply to JayPee630:

You don't ssy what your work is,  but the following indicates an active physical job?

"have no great delusion it'll be a great training plan, but I want to use it for something as I'll be so knackered from work the exercise I do out of work will reduce!"

Is the route flat, or hilly in both directions?

Otherwise 4km there and back is fine  just build up slowly, for logistical ease its best to run there and back the same day i found. I had a desk bound job so my work was recovery time and could do there and back (10.5km each way) every other day, cycling in on non-run days. work had showers, lockers, chsnging rooms, etc.

 Dave B 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:


What's the work you do? that might make a difference to what you feel up to doing.

I'm similar in that I just over 50 and used to do a 38minute 10k / 18m??s 5K. But that was about 10 years ago, and I;m now slower, but, still fairly strong for my size and do other sports as well. 

My commute is 5k each way, but I tend to cycle both ways some days and bus in / run home other days, but the run is extended to about 8-9k if I feel good, or just the 5k if I'm tired or need to get home. I'm finding that as I'm standing most of the day I get very tight calves by the end of the day. This makes me feel very heavy legged for running on the way home, so steady state is all I can do. Usually ends up being z2-3 as there is a hill out of work, so that jacks up the HR and it doesn't go down again. All my intervals are done at other times.

I'll also train (20-30 mins max) - either (home) gym session or run or yoga on days I go in when I get up, before I go in. Bear in mind I also tend to only have to do 3 or 4 days a week, but the days are either 10 or 12 hours long and there is NO pattern to them at all.  There is a shower at work, but I try not to get sweaty on the way in, as there isn't really time to get a shower as well as get ready for the day. This means cycle rides aren't fast. I'm not really used to nights yet, so those I just cycle and take it easy.  This means my training is very opportunistic and not really heavily structured. I simply say, one speed session/ hill session per week for running, one interval session on the turbo/bike and one weights session per week are my aim, but everything else is a bit open. 

My wife tends to either get a lift or bus in and then run home every shift, even after nights, but running is about all she does with a bit of yoga and a little bit of strength training when I make her!

We've both been quite tired recently, especially in the month after each c19 vaccination.

 JayPee630 02 Nov 2021
In reply to Dave B:

12.5hrs in A&E, so hospital, so better be showers to use! Also hence why only going in 3-4 times a week on a random pattern.

Google says 500 foot up, 200 foot down on way there re: height gain.

Post edited at 11:34
 Dave B 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

Understand, I'm (still learning) in theatres, so similar, but different. My wife in CT. 

That height gain will be a killer, IMHO! All the best.

 jezzah 02 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

Just get on with it and jog in each day. Don't think too much, just get on with it. After a few days it will possibly be painful and either you body will adjust or you will injure yourself- hopefully not the latter option!

Listen to David Goggins podcast as motivation.

Have fun (possibly type-2).

 Jeff Armstrong 17 Nov 2021
In reply to JayPee630:

I've always ran a bit for the last 15 years or so (currently 35). I picked up the volume in the last year and have found that it is very easy to pick up niggles and more pronounced injuries very easily when ramping up the volume. I was starting from a pretty good base fitness and a reasonable weight (currently 177cm and 71kg).

The bottom line I would say is set cautious goals/realistic times for improvement. Just because you feel particularly good on a certain day and feel you can smash your PB, it doesn't mean you should (quite early on I had a good day where I pushed my 5k PB down by about 1min to 18:30, but for the next couple of months I had bad hip problems).

Slow and steady improvements will be better in the long run. Given the distances you are talking about, I would suggest just trying to run at an "enjoyable" pace to begin with (can easily talk at this pace, and running feels pretty much effortless). Then after 2/3 weeks, add in one slightly faster run (Feels like harder work, but your legs aren't at the point of giving up, nor is your cardio fitness). Then once you've been doing this for a couple of weeks, I would start slowly pushing your time on the fast run. Slowly being the key word. If you aren't picking up injuries, you are going in the right direction  

In reply to jezzah:

> Just get on with it and jog in each day. you body will adjust or you will injure yourself- hopefully not the latter option!

Possible not ridiculous advice for a young person who would probably recover quickly if they get injured, but less sensible as you get older and recoverey from injury can take a LOT longer.

Building up gradually would probably be a better idea.

In reply to mountain.martin:

Agreed, a bit like saying just jump on an E1, you will either get to the top or get spat off at some point 😂 Probably not the best advice !

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