Training update & Threshold Concepts

Training is now well under way, with 6 runs since my last post, 4 of 6.4km, an 8km and a 12.9km run on Sunday.  Each were different, both in terms of climate and terrain (one was also with a heavy backpack) but fairly reasonable times, so I should be ok for around 2 hours completion time.

I decided on a half marathon training plan by Jeff Gaudette on Runkeeper, which finishes the day before the race.  I’ve joined in half way through, but I’m not starting from scratch so it’s been ok.  The biggest problem has been fitting in two runs on a weekend, especially in the summer when there are lots of trips out, spontaneous weekends away etc.

Threshold concepts

I mentioned Threshold Concepts in my last post, which is a term I came across during recent studies in Adult Education.

Within any learning or training a discipline, there are a set of steps or levels that lead from starting off in that subject to becoming a master of it.  These “threshold concepts” are individual ideas that suddenly help you understand what you have been doing (“Oh, now I get it!”), and allow you to progress to the next level.

It’s a point where the knowledge you’ve learned and skills you’ve developed from the early steps inculcate an attribute that helps to define you as a runner, weightlifter, sprinter, scientist, artist, musician or whatever the discipline is.

So having become a runner, and gone from random plods to fairly fast runs, I’m interested in identifying what the threshold concepts for running might be, to help guide people who are just getting into it, or want to develop their technique or speed.

If you are an experienced runner, what do you think are the important points to consider?

Starting blocks

The first threshold concept is realising that running is something that you learn and will improve at over time.  Those lean machines striding round the park at silly hours or in crazy weather aren’t sadists, it’s just become part of a routine.  You don’t need to be fast or do exceptional long distances, whatever your size or fitness level, you are doing it for yourself.  It’s not a race – it can be, but that’s for later.

You might see runner in funky gear or expensive trainers, using GPS trackers, smartphone apps or drinking strange concoctions, but that’s because they’re at a level where that helps them (even if it’s psychological).  You don’t need those things right now, as you progress and running becomes a habit, you’ll work out what the next “thing” you need is.

So how to start?  Well if you’ve never done it at all, keep it simple.  There are some great plans out there, on Runkeeper (and I’ll talk more about apps another time) and on the web.  Intending to do it myself, I recommended Couch to 5k to a friend a couple of years back, and he quickly lost loads of weight, which was his aim, but also now runs around 200km a month, pretty fast too.

Do it today!

If this inspires you, try the first run from Couch to 5k:

  • Brisk five-minute warmup walk.
  • Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

That’s it!  When you’ve finished, you can do some simple stretches if you want.  For a basic session like this you should be fine, but if you find yourself stiff or achey the next day, those might be the areas you want to ensure you stretch at the end of future sessions.


Many thanks to the lovely people who’ve already donated – I’m at 10% of my target!

You can donate at or by text: send the code DTRC81 and your donation amount to Vodafone Justtextgiving. E.g. “DTRC81 £5″ to 70070.


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About loidon

Technical support in an IT-centric academic department. Jack of all trades, master of none. Able to bluff on most subjects!

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