Alan Owen-Jones is a run coach we’ve had a fair bit to do with here at Complete Sports Care. Like all runners, he has had the odd injury here and there and we have had the pleasure of assisting him – so I’ve asked him to return the favour and write a small blog post about a running app that he has developed. This app is specifically designed to allow you to train properly for events such as half and full marathons.

One of the most important principles for preventing running injuries is graduated training, i.e pacing yourself. This is often easier said than done, so an app like Alan’s can really help to make sure you avoid going to hard to soon, and succumb to the boom bust mentality (you can read more about boom bust in this previous blog post from one of our experienced physios, Meagan Davis).

Aside from being gradual and preventing injury, a good training program will also ensure that you are doing all the things you need to in your training to get over the line (and hopefully enjoy yourself) on race day.

So I will hand over to Alan to explain his app, which can help you achieve all this, but just before I do, here is a quote from him:

“We are meant to run. The bus driver knows that too, that is the only reason he starts to drive away once he sees you running to catch his bus; he knows that you can do it.”


Using the Run with Alan app: Getting your numbers right.

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If you have a basic understanding of realistic goals, running abilities and speed work, then all the secrets of the running universe are here in a few clicks. So here’s how to use the Run with Alan run app to allow you to achieve your running goals.

If you want to run a half marathon, then click on half marathon, enter a half marathon time that you think you can achieve and hit calculate.  You will see distances from 3k to 15k that you need to be able to run, in a race. If those times seem a long way from achievable right now, then so would your half marathon dream. So you need to be realistic- if you are within one minute of the 10k time, then I feel that is a good measure. So let’s use a 1:40 half marathon goal as an example.  My client had run 5k in just over 22 minutes, so a 1:40 half, with consistent training, is within her means.

When you click speed work, you will see all the times for reps and paces, for the four energy systems. Here is a run-down of the types of speed work you will be directed to, in order to achieve your running goal.

High Anaerobic system. (90-100% of max Heart Rate) The 400m rep times are at the top. The first one at 1:36 is a bit slower, as a 200m jog recovery, is harder than the next one at 1:30 with 2:1 rest i.e. recovery is twice the workout time. If you are having a 2:1 walking recovery, you are capable of running a faster rep.

Next is our Fartlek pace. (85-95%) I like to run this a bit quicker than 5k pace. So if you are running 1k reps or big pyramid blocks, this is the pace you should be doing.

Low Anaerobic (80-90%) is Tempo pace – something a lot of people don’t get right. It is just below your threshold, so between your 10k and half marathon pace. The pace on the app is for a 20-minute tempo run.  It is a sustained effort run, so don’t run it any faster than needed- that will be your fartlek pace. Another feature is the tempo button. Put your current 5k race time in, and hit calculate. This is for a 45-minute workout with a true, 20-minute tempo pace.  You will see a pace for running 25 minutes out, which is pretty much your long slow pace. So start out at that pace, then after 25-minutes, you turn around and run back at the 20 min pace, which is true tempo pace. If you get it right, you will be back at the start, right on time.

The long slow run/recovery pace (65-80%), will always start a good argument. I see people running too fast on the long slow, and too slow in speed work.  So, slow down to the right pace and enjoy the leisurely run. I have trained two women to run marathons of 4 hours and 3:30 respectively. Both of them ran three times a week: Two speed sessions and a long slow run, at the pace that the app tells them to. We could tell by the way they were running all of the paces of the speed work and long slow runs with the correct distance, that they would achieve their goals. They both nailed it on the day. The other girl also ran a 1:39’34” half marathon, following the app to a tee. They all trusted the App.

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So having all of those paces and times now, is 15% of the battle, another 5%, is putting it all together in a program. The remaining 80%, is you actually following the program. You can follow a race specific program, most programs should have these energy systems covered, all you have to do is match the time from the app, to the specific workout. If you are still struggling putting something together, I train people online and also provide written programs, which will be app specific as well.

Of course not everyone is motivated enough to do speed work on their own, or they don’t understand exactly what to do. This is where group training comes into its own. I run one-hour speed sessions in Hawthorn at 6am and 9.20am on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Once you run these sessions, you will have a better understanding of the paces and the app will really make sense. Check out my website or call me on 0409 416 335.

Remember; run with a purpose.