Ryan Burling’s fast average training pace and high mileage buck traditional formats.

Post-race pints and takeaways, no rest days or gym work and high mileage at an average of 5.30min/mile combine to make Guernsey AC’s Ryan Burling’s training schedule an unusual but successful one.

The fact he is coached by the man who shared the same coach in Harry Wilson as Olympic legend Steve Ovett, namely Tony Simmons, is another crucial key to his step up to an England international at the recent Lillebaelt half marathon.

The 24 year-old describes his training as ‘quite old school’, and certainly his race refuelling methods are reminiscent of the glory days of Brendan Foster and Steve Jones, with the latter even admitting to enjoying several pints of beer the night before major marathons – which he would often go onto win in world-leading times.

The similarities don’t end there, with the full-time accountant using all his training time for running and running alone – just like Jones, who has said he had no time for – and possibly no access to – specialist strength training coaches or massage therapists when he competed several decades ago.

Fast Running: Could you outline an average week of your training?

Ryan Burling: I run 80-100 miles a week, with three sessions and no rest day. I don’t do any core, gym work or stretching, I simply just run.

I don’t have time to get gym sessions in or regular massages, but this is something I want to change. However, I’d have to sacrifice running mileage and as a runner, I don’t want to do that.

All my sessions are done on the track in flats or on a treadmill weather depending, as Guernsey lacks streetlights on most roads.

Monday
AM/lunch – 5 miles at 5.30/40 average pace
PM – 8 miles at same pace


Tuesday
AM/lunch – 5 miles at 5.30/40 average pace
PM – longer rep session such as 6×1 mile of 70/80 seconds in 4.40s or 8x1km off 60s in 2.55 ave


Wednesday
AM/lunch – 5 miles at 5.30/40 ave average pace
PM – 10 miles at same pace


Thursday
AM/lunch – 5 miles at 5.30/40 average pace
PM – shorter reps but still some volume, such as 20-25 x 400m off 45-60s in around 65-67s


Friday
Depending on evening plans it can be a long 13/15 miles before work, starting at 5.50s then dropping into a normal pace. Or 3×5 mile runs. First at 5.50s, then 5.30/40 then sub 5.30

Saturday
AM – parkrun or 3/4 miles easy
PM – see how I feel, normally longer and slower reps or 5/6 miles at HM pace.

Sunday
16-18 miles at sub 5.40 ave, normally a slow start before switching up to a stronger pace in the middle and end.

FR: Do you have a favourite session, and are there any runs you struggle with?

RB: My favourite session by far is 400m repeats, I find it’s the one session I do which shows the shape I’m in. Morning runs are a real problem for me, though, and as I’m often working and studying late, I prefer to sleep in and recover better.

FR: Do you swear by any particular pre-race routine/food/build up to make you feel like you’ve prepared as best you can?

RB: Not really, I don’t follow superstitions and try to keep things simple, not overcomplicating and overthinking. Post race though, I always enjoy with pints and a takeaway!

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