Bum Belly Blast! or New Training Program

The new training programme! I’ve been running for three (?) years now, and I can safely say that I’ve hit a plateau. I have had aspirations of becoming a faster runner and a runner of longer distances for a while now, but I’ve never actually done anything about it. I’ve stuck within my comfort zone of 4-5.5 mile runs, with the occasional 6 mile run (gasp!), and intentions of doing interval training, but only ever doing one session. The hill running has helped over these three years of running, but I know I need to do more. And while the running has been beneficial for my physical fitness and keeping my weight in check for the last two years (up until earlier this year, I was overdoing the IEat Therefore I Run mentality), my no-training-programme regime has done nothing to improve my fitness for longer distances and faster paces. I need to venture out of my comfort zone to get better, and in order to do that, I need to increase the intensity of my running.

Which is exactly what I’ve decided to do. Combine my desire to improve my running with the mixed feelings I have towards my 33 year old body, and you get what’s been dubbed the Bum Belly Blast training programme. The phrase ‘Bum belly blast!’ is from my friend Amy, who leads our running group. Whenever we do hills, her mantra is ‘Bum belly blast!’ and it’s rubbed off on the rest of us. This programme is from Runner’s World Complete Guide to Women’s Running, a novel-sized book jammed full of articles on getting started, training, health, nutrition, weight loss, running & pregnancy, motivation, cross-training and racing. It is my bible in many ways, and is already worn out from all the dog-earing I’ve done to pages and referencing I’ve used it for. It also has some fantastic recipes in it, and yes I will be sharing them here.


The programme comes from the article ‘Your Bespoke Body in Just Six Weeks’ (p. 180 – 187), which, as I write this, seems like some loss weight quickly scheme that doesn’t really work, found in the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine. Seriously though, I’m doing this because it’s an actual programme that contains the type of training I want to do to (but don’t know what to do) to get faster: interval running, tempo runs and the long run. The fact that it is also a bum belly blast is secondary. It is designed to help you ‘sculpt up’ and train you to potentially run a trail race, but also helps develop ‘your aerobic capacity and running economy so you can run faster using less oxygen,’ (p. 185). In a nutshell, my stamina and speed will get better, which is exactly why I’m doing this.

The programme runs for six weeks, three days a week and is as follows:

Tuesday – intervals
Thursday – tempo
Weekend – long run
6 x 3 min, 1 min rest between each
3 x 10 min at race pace, 5 min jog recovery between each
60 to 90 min
20-30 sec hill reps x 10 (recovery is the jog back down between each rep)
30 min. Hilly at 85% max heart rate
65 – 80 min
12 x 90 sec, 1 min rest between each
20 min at  race pace
75 – 90 min
2-3 min hill reps x 8 
3 x 15 min, 5 min jog recovery between each
75 – 90 min or adventure race
8 x 3 min, 1 min rest between each
25 min hilly at 85% max heart rate
80-105 min
1 min hill reps x 10
20 min
90-120 min

While I have a degree in Kinesiology and Applied Health, I’m no expert when it comes to running programmes or even fitness programmes. So I consulted one of my colleagues, an elite runner who, at close to 60 years old, runs a cycle of seven days on and two days off. His marathon personal best is 2:46:xx, which in case you don’t know, was the 2012 qualifying time for female marathon runners for the Olympics. His current marathon time is around the 3:16:xx mark; still amazing! From now on in this blog, I will refer to him as my Unofficial Running Coach (or URC), as I suspect he’ll be helping me out more in the future. The guidelines below come from him:

  • Each interval and tempo run should include 10 minute easy jog warm-up and cool down.You should always stretch after the warm-up run and after the cool down run.
  • Intervals on a flat should be done at 80% maximum effort (unless otherwise stated), while hill reps are sprints that should be done at 100% effort going uphill.
  • Tempo runs are done at your desired ‘race pace;’ the McMillan Running Calculator can help you figure out your race pace. I want to run a sub-57:00 10km, so my race pace should be around the 9:08 /mile mark.
  • Long runs are run at a significantly slower pace, about 1:30 slower than desired race pace. You should be able to have a conversation without any problems. For me, this is around10:30/mile. Once the long run is over, elevate your feet for a while, (I did this yesterday after my seven mile run, it made my feet feel so much better!).

It is an intense and difficult programme, which requires dedication, discipline and willpower. You’ll also notice that it alternates between running on a flat surface one week, and hilly running the next. After two weeks of sticking to the programme, I can say that it is such a feeling of accomplishment to get through each session without modifying things, (which is something myself and my running group have been guilty of in the past). Yes the sessions are tiring, but I know they will help for my upcoming races. There are fears before every run, but about half way through, those fears dissipate and become excitement instead. I’ve also done a few of the sessions with my running group ladies, and having them there doing it with me, as well as giving me encouragement, makes it all worth while. I can also admit that I woke up yesterday morning excited for my seven mile run. What is wrong with me? The former Danielle would have dreaded that. 

And should I feel totally drained and not at all up for a speedy interval or tempo run? I can supplement with a normal run as per my URC. I could then push back the workout to the following week.

Finally, the training programme is supplemented with high intensity interval training exercises to help continue to improve my overall strength, stability and plyometric strength (read: the training that helps for speed). I do these two days a week:

  • Wednesday: Do each exercise for 15 seconds, with 15 second rest between each. Once all four exercises are complete, rest for one minute. Aim for 10 sets, (I’ve done eight so far).
        • unassisted chin-ups – I’ve not got a bar at home nor the upper body strength, so I do modified pull-ups lying on the floor while holding on to table top above, then pulling myself up.
          • Jackknife – I don’t have an exercise ball so I use an office chair with wheels instead. See image below.
            • Split lunges – Standing in a lunge position with both legs at a 90′ angle. Power upwards and jump off your toes and switch legs in the air, landing in the lunge position again.
              • Squat jumps – with feet hip width apart and hands on hips, squat down with your weight in your heels. Power upwards and jump off your toes, then land and repeat.
            How to do a jackknife – source
            • Saturday: Same set of exercises as above. Do each exercise for 30 seconds, with 30 seconds rest between each. Once all four exercises are complete, rest for one minute. Aim for six sets to start, then build up to ten sets by the end of the programme. 

            In case you’re wondering, my rest days are Monday and Friday. 

            Overall, I’m very happy I’m doing an actual running programme and, with it full of intervals, tempo runs and long runs, I now feel like a proper runner because I can throw around that terminology no longer in aspiration of doing them, but because they’re a regular part of my running routine. I will post some reflections on the programme soon, as well as some stuff I’ve been thinking about lately that I want to turn into posts:

            Aren’t you happy I have this entire week off??!?!? Happy Monday everyone!

            What’s your current running programme like? Any big goals you’re working towards?
            Which do you prefer: interval running, tempo runs or long runs?
            What’s your favourite healthy recipe?

            9 thoughts on “Bum Belly Blast! or New Training Program

            1. Love it! Thanks for sharing. My training has taken a backseat while in Karratha (it was too hot to seriously run for the first four months and now I'm just out of shape). It's finally cool enough to ramp up my training, although I don't think I'm ready for your program yet. Maybe next spring in Edmonton… I've done four sprint distance triathlons and they're lots of fun. I really enjoyed the training and following a prescribed program, it was very motivating. I wish Pat luck, although it doesn't sound like he needs any! Good luck to you and your bum belly blast~ I only wish I could join you!

            2. Ooooo I'm so excited about this! Both for you and because I think I'm definitely going to learn something also 🙂

              I'm currently running about four times per week with similar runs to the ones you're talking about, but I could be better about getting my tempos in. In order of preference I like interval running, long runs and then tempos. I used to like long runs better but it's recently flip flopped!

            3. Thanks Amanda! I can't imagine what it's like running in extreme heat. Here in Scotland, extreme heat is 25'C! I was going to say you could run early in the morning or late at night, but I remember when my friends and I were in the Northern Territory and it was 30'C AT NIGHT, so forget that. Hopefully, now that it's cooled off, you can get back into things in full force!

              Pat isn't doing the training programme, it's me and a few ladies from my running group. He's training for his first sprint tri, so he does other stuff instead.

            4. Love the article for two reasons. First off, the physical challenge on its own is tough. Second, the mental discipline to undertake it is formidable. Good luck with it, and I hope I never have to race against you.

            5. Thank you for both reasons 🙂 It is tough and one could easily give up, so I think the success of this programme depends much more on getting through each work out rather than taking the easy option and skipping them.

              And don't worry, even after the programme's done, youll still be much faster than me. I'm still trying to crack a sub-57 minute 10km!

            6. Sounds like a great program, Danielle! You can't go wrong with tempo runs, hills, intervals and long runs! I'm excited for you and know you'll see results in no time 🙂

              When I first started training, my coach had me running six days a week… most were shorter runs, but the consistency got my legs used to running while tired. Now I'm doing some tempo, hills and one long run a week, and it's helping a lot!

            7. Thanks Erin! I've noticed a difference in terms of recovery from the exercises and I'm already seeing progress for long runs. Still hating intervals though.

              Great to hear that all your training has paid off, makes me optimistic for mine 🙂

            8. Pingback: 2013: The Year that Was | I Eat Therefore I Run

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