Improvers running training plans

Jul 17, 2019 | Jenni Ashford

Exeter Golf and Country Club’s team of runners training for Exeter’s Great West Run, range from complete beginners to sub 10K-ers and runners who have completed multiple half and full marathons. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all training plan, so the Personal Trainers, are working with each individual on their specific needs to get them on track to achieve that all important PB at the half marathon in October.

The purpose of improver running plans is simple – to make challenging runs easier, running farther and faster. Stamina accumulates through consistent running; a few times a week, over lots of weeks…and many months! Including a tempo run, longer distance run and a hill run in your training plan will work wonders on your running endurance. Tempo runs of a shorter distance at a higher pace train the body to run longer before muscle fatigue sets in.

For hill runs, build speed endurance by running on a gradual incline for 60 second intervals, whilst strength endurance is increased by running steeper, longer distances – 800 metres – from between 90 seconds to 6 minutes.

Improver training plan to work towards

1 x interval sprint run/HIIT session +1 x hill run + 1 x longer run adding 1 mile per week
2/3 x shorter tempo or recovery runs. Stretching in between.
Distance and pace according to level.

Improver Runner Update


Events Coordinator

“Following advice about how to improve my overall speed, I gave hill training and tempo running a go this week.  The speed run took me to breaking point, but I made it – just! Once I looked at my time and saw what I had achieved, it was worth it. I achieved my quickest average pace ever – 8.31 min per mile compared to 9.5 – 10 per mile. Next up was hills…not just small slopes, they felt more like mammoth mountains! I maintained a steady pace for 30 second sets with a 10 second walk. Although this was tough, I know that the pay off will come further down to line by making me stronger. I will be including a tempo run and a hill run once a week alongside my other runs.”
PT Top Tip: Elaine wants to knock about 12 minutes off her half marathon time. Incorporating these runs will help – having the confidence to push her pace on her regular runs is key to her progress.
Ask our PT about training for a sub 2 hour half marathon


Marketing Manager

“Interval training is key to pushing past my plateau of around a 1.50 half marathon. I have a hill route which involves two long, steep hills – Dunsford Road and Polehouse Lane. I am pushing myself to run these faster by incorporating some hill sprints. Flat sprint intervals of 1 minute with 20 second rest are helping once a week. My running to-and-from-work sessions are also quicker. Running 5 or 6 times a week, I am finding my legs are feeling more fatigued…I am going to add in a sports yoga session with Howard at club to help stretch and lengthen my muscles to help recovery – hopefully it may even help my plantar fasciitis.”
PT Top Tip: Exeter Arena is the place for Jenni  to increase her speed – try running 600 metres as fast as possible then 200 metres recovery x 6 times, maintaining the same pace each time (or within 10 seconds).Ask our PT about interval training for running



“I felt confident at the beginning of the week after running 8.3K which for me is quite far. A couple days of rest later I decided to go for another, I knew it wouldn’t it be as long as I didn’t have enough time so I aimed for a 5k. As I set off I found it hard to pace myself, usually early on in my run I get into the flow and this helps set the pace. I’m not sure if it was because that particular morning was really warm or because my hay fever was bad but I couldn’t get into the swing of it and instead of running smoothly it felt quite clumsy. I was determined to carry on however as I got ¾ of the way through I felt a twinge of pain in my right knee from an ongoing injury, so I decided to head home. I was proud that I had managed to carry on and complete 5k but felt disheartened that it wasn’t as smooth or straightforward as normal. As a result of this I decided to pause the training for a few days but worked on my fitness in other ways, such as HIIT sessions mixed with short treadmill runs and swimming. My aim for this week is to try and run 10/10.5K along with a couple of short runs to work on pacing myself.”
PT Top Tip: It’s great that Zoe has realised that not all runs feel great at the time – and that any run is better than no run – sometimes the hardest are the most effective. It would be a good idea to start running for time rather than distance to get used to adding miles to your legs. 
Ask our PT about tips to extend mileage of your runs


Spa Manager

“As it’s been a while since I last ran (before my daughter was born), my main aim this week and next is to remind my body (and mind) about how much I enjoyed running before! I’ve been out with Lee, our Fitness Manager, for two runs, the first was 3 miles and the second was 5. I can feel my running muscles coming back to life. A steady pace and lots of motivation and encouragement from Lee is helping me pick up the pace again. 7 miles next time!”
PT Top Tip: Add miles per week not focusing miles per run at this stage. Amber needs to incorporate smaller, more regular runs – for instance to and from work which is just a couple of miles each time – this will benefit her much more than less regular, longer runs.
Ask our PT about getting back into running after having a baby


Assistant Fitness Manager

“My old approach to running was to push ’til I dropped…the PT in me knew this wasn’t the right approach but it’s hard not to when you feel you have more to give! So, this time round I have a new philosophy and it’s already working well – finish on a high! I ran two 3-4 mile runs and one longer 6 mile run last week with the aim of gradually increasing my stamina. My longer run around Exmouth and the estuary was early on a Saturday morning at sun rise – peaceful, quiet and beautiful – what more motivation do you need to make it a regular start to the weekend?!  After each of the runs, I felt that I had enough left in the tank to run a few more miles – which I felt is important as it made me enjoy the run. Often, in the past I’ve always finished by upping my pace, pushing myself to the max and finishing exhausted. Although sometimes feeling exhausted from exercise can be a good thing, I ALWAYS associated my running with that feeling and never really looked forward to my next run.  Next step for me is hills to up the resistance!”
PT  Top Tip: Finish on a high – you’ll remember the feeling and look forward to the next run so it doesn’t feel like a chore! Great for self-motivation and a pat on the back!
Ask our PT about motivation for running

Free Personal Training Session

Buy 5 personal training sessions, and we’ll give you a 6th one free!

You can choose one of four trainers depending on what you what to achieve and the style of training you like best: Lee Cooke – Gym Manager, Nick Rose – Assistant Gym Manager, James Wetherell – Personal Trainer and Becki Drew – Personal Trainer.


£26 fitness members
£28 club members
£30 non members

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