Training Systems and Running Routes in Leeds
I’m going to discuss some of the running routes in Leeds the Headingley Harriers use and the benefits of using these routes in line with different training systems. When it comes to selecting a specific running route there are two key things you need to consider:
- The type of training system you wish to apply
- The terrain and gradient of the route
The tempo run for example is an effective training system designed to increase your stamina and improve overall rhythm and tempo. These workouts usually last between 15 and 30 minutes in duration. It is paramount you preface the session with a thorough warm up as you will be working at around 80-85% MHR. Tempo runs are meant to be comfortably hard as I would like to describe them, so don’t push the pace as it should be around 10-15% less than race pace. The Abbey Road just off of Kirkstall Hill provides a fantastic route where tempo runs and different forms of interval training such as cruise intervals can be completed. Starting at Kirkstall Leisure Centre heading down Abbey Road past Kirkstall Abbey you will find yourself on a flat route with no disturbances from side roads where cars can potentially disrupt your rhythm and speed. When you reach Hawksworth Road, before the hill you should spin around using the opposite side of the road and head back. This can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes for individuals making this an ideal route for this particular training system.
An ideal way to begin is by doing a 10-15 minute warm-up followed by a 20-minute tempo run and finishing with a 10-minute cool down and stretch. Taking all of this into consideration the terrain and gradient would need to be as flat as possible and ideally run on the road or track. It wouldn’t make sense to select a route that is hilly as this would instantly disrupt the rhythm and tempo of the session and lead you to running at different speeds. Depending on how serious you are about running and pushing your fitness boundaries this can be a fundamental factor to whether or not you progress with your fitness goals.
The goal here is to spend time at your maximum aerobic capacity (vo2 max). The pace is faster so you must take a recovery jog of about half the distance of the repeat (or jog for the same duration as the faster runner). For example, if you run an 800m repeat, you would jog for about 400m to recover. These workouts allow you to maintain your speed over a longer period of time. A great place to put this type of training system into practice is the athletics track at Leeds Becketts Park Campus. This surface will provide consistent comfort and feel for the athletes session.
Hill reps or Hell reps as some of the runners at Headingley harriers like to describe them. A great way to improve power and strength within the legs, you will tend to reap the rewards from this in the final stages of a race. The hill that Headingley Harriers use from time to time is just off of Kirkstall Road called Argie Road opposite ASDA. It’s a very steep hill that will take around 1-2 minutes to climb depending on the individual’s ability. There are two different variations you can use in order to make this hill more difficult and challenging. Firstly you can do the standard repetitions where you work hard on the ascending phase and recover with light jogging on the descending recovery phase. The alternative would be to “superset” the hill by working hard on the uphill phase followed by a light jog back down 30-40 meters. From there you will sprint to the top which will count as 1 repetition. Another hill to test your ability on and one that is generally very quite in terms of cars passing is located just off of Commercial Road. Beecroft Street is a hill that begins steep from the start and only seems to get steeper by the second. This hill can also be extended by hooking a right-hand turn at the top and continues to climb for roughly another 100-150 meters.
The long run can be one of the most arduous and lonely forms of training systems to complete as it requires a lot of will power to keep the legs spinning for a long period of time. When selecting a route for this you want to make it as scenic as possible and varied in terms of the gradients and terrain. A route I have found enjoyable in the past that provides all of the above begins at Headingley Cricket ground. From there head towards Kirkstall and take your first right at the traffic lights onto Queenswood Drive. Follow this road until you merge onto Spen Lane where you will eventually reach the ring road and turn left. Most of this section now is downhill where you will reach the Toby Carvery situated in Horsforth. Turn left at the roundabout onto the other side of the road which will then lead onto Abbey Road. At the end of this road finish the endurance run off with a long climb up Kirkstall Hill back into Headingley. This is a challenging loop offering a variety of different gradients that will overall help improve your aerobic capacity.
If you want to give your legs a rest from the heavy impact training on hard surfaces like the road, then a grass session may become your new best friend. This will give your muscles and joints a rest from the constant wear and tear hard surfaces have on your legs all year round. Headingley Harriers sometimes use the football pitch up near Becketts Park opposite Church Wood, this is generally very flat and the short grass makes it ideal for timed circuit loops.