City 2 Surf training program (and endurance running tips)

Jess running in the recent Bobbin Head edition of Mountain Sports' short course series, pic by Mason Photography

Jess running in the recent Bobbin Head edition of Mountain Sports’ short course series, pic by Mason Photography

Every fitness site seems to have a top 5 training tips, with many of them seeming to have been harvested from every other fitness sites’ top 5 training tips. So here’s a refreshing change – training tips from a runner who embodies commitment to the joy of hard running.

In addition to a variety of successes over every distance from half-marathon to 100 miles, Jess Baker is the joint holder of the outright Newcastle to Sydney course record for the brutal 250+km run along the Great North Walk. She was one half of the women’s team that came second at the World Rogaining Championships in Prague last year. She was 6th fastest woman at the 2012 North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains, running a smoking 12:38. And she is one of only 28 adventure racers in the world who can currently call themselves a 4 Deserts Grand Slammer.

So when we saw the training tips that Jess had put together for a personal trainer to help motivate charity runners preparing for something a little shorter – the 14km City to Surf, we liked it so much we thought it worth sharing.

It’s not a definitive guide, and it doesn’t claim to be. Realistically, there’s no guide that’s going to be definitive for everybody anyway! It’s just solid, down-to-earth advice from someone who runs over 5,000km per year and embodies their practice.

We think many of you will find it helpful.

Designing your own Training Program by Jess Baker

A good City to Surf training program might include: 1) Endurance; 2) Speed; 3) Rest; 4) Hills; 5) Cross-training

1)      Endurance: These are your longer, comfortable and steady runs, with talking allowed!  The typical rule (although it is disputed) is to not increase your mileage more than 10% per week.  For example, if you run 20km in your first week, your next week should be no more than 22km.  The purpose of this is to avoid injury. Although these are endurance sessions, it does not hurt to practice running a bit harder at the end; always aim for that “big finish”, even if you are running alone.

2)      Speed: There are a variety of ways to include speed in your training program – and they don’t all need to be measured or scientific.  Try racing to one lamppost and then jogging to the next or run several fast reps around your local oval with a short recovery between each one.  Other more measured examples might include: 6 x 400m reps; 8 x 200m reps; 5 x 1 km reps.  Challenge yourself.  These sessions won’t be conducive to talking, you might feel sick, but, you will feel good at the end!

3)      Rest:  Don’t run every day. Give your body a rest and chance to recover.

4)      Hills:  The only way to get better at running up hills (e.g. Heartbreak hill!) is to practice running up hills.  Uphill running will build leg strength and downhill running will help your legs get used to moving faster*.  Find a big hill near you and run up and down it a few times. Or plan a hilly route to run around.

5)      Cross-training:  Cross-training helps to include variety into your exercise program and to balance your muscle groups.  The specific exercise will be personal preference, but recommendations include Pilates, yoga, swimming, cycling or weight training.

* Note that posture is one of the first things to go when running hills.  You might find it easier to take shorter strides, and your posture should remain upright!  The same for running downhill – remain upright.  When you start to feel in control, lengthen your stride.  If you start to run out of control in your descent, shorten your stride until you feel more in control again.










Week 1

5km Intervals 4km Hills Rest 6km Cross-train


5km Intervals 4.5km Hills Rest 7km Cross-train


5km Intervals 5km Hills Rest 8km Cross-train


5.5km Intervals 5km Hills Rest 9km Cross-train


6km Intervals 5.5km Hills Rest 10km Cross-train


6.5km Intervals 6km Hills Rest 11km Cross-train


7km Intervals 6.5km Hills Rest 12km Cross-train


7.5km Intervals 7.5km Hills Rest 13km Cross-train


8km Intervals 8km Hills Rest 14km Cross-train


9km Intervals 9km Hills Rest 15 Cross-train


6km Rest 6km Hills Rest 10km Cross-train


4km Rest 4km Rest Rest Rest RACE DAY






Extra tips:

  • Be Flexible: Make a weekly plan that works for you. If you miss a day, don’t freak out. Just run the next day. If you don’t have time to do your long run, don’t worry, just run what you can; any exercise is better than no exercise.
  • Accept discomfort:  It is part of getting fitter.
  • Know that it will get easier.
  • It is much easier to train with a buddy.
  • Know that not every single run will be a good one, and that a bad run is still better than no run.
  • Vary your training routes.  This will keep running fresh and prevent your body from becoming acclimated.  Road is hard on your body – try to hit some trails if possible.
  • Runners need to drink more water.
  • To aid recovery, the most crucial time to eat and drink is the hour immediately after your run, especially your long run – and try to make the food high in protein.
  • When you are running, ask yourself, “Can I give more?”; the answer is usually: “Yes”.
  • To prevent blisters or chafing use Vaseline/bodyglide/hydropel/loobit (or similar) wherever things rub. Men, consider plasters over your nipples.
  • Yes, running takes energy, but then it gives it back to you ten-fold.
  • Favourite quote:  “Don’t stop when you are tired; stop when you are done.” If you want to stop…don’t!







3 Responses to City 2 Surf training program (and endurance running tips)

  1. Sam Apps says:

    Love this – this Jess Baker seems to really know what she’s talking about ;-). Inspiring – thanks for sharing.

  2. Carolyn Petritsch says:

    Very helpfull thank you

  3. Pingback: City 2 Surf training program (and endurance running tips) | runeatsleeprun

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