Training for City2Surf

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

There are important things that a runner should be aware of when preparing for an event like the Sun-Herald City2Surf, says Daniela Cook, Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness NSW.

City2Surf was voted as one of Sydney’s favourite runs, with 85,000 people registered in 2012. The 14km course has some challenging sections like the well-known Heartbreak Hill, but is also renowned for its rewarding views like Bondi beach. The course record is 40:03, set by Steve Moneghetti in 1991. This is an average of 21km/h! Inspired yet?

Starting a Running Program

Before you start any running program check with a physician if you are clear for exercise. Also, have correct footwear, and a heart rate monitor and a running buddy or Personal Trainer if possible to help motivate you.

If you have already done some running, you should start training now as we only have 4 months to go for the next City2Surf, which is on Sunday 11 August 2013.

For beginners to master this run, you should start training 6-12 months in advance, so the 2013 event may come up too quickly for you. Training for this length may seem like a long time, but it will help to prevent injuries and will pay off when you reach the finish line.

Your training plan should consist of a combination of type, distance, frequency, time, and intensity.


City2Surf is a running event so you need to think about specificity of training. Training on the rower, bike or swimming won’t enhance your ability in this event, so this means run! The best type you can do is outdoor running. There will, of course be times that this won’t be suitable whether it’s due to the bad weather or it being dark outside, so you can train on a treadmill, but remember training outdoors will better prepare you the conditions you’ll face on the day.


If you have never run before you need to ensure you can actually run 14kms in the first place. Can you run 1km? 2km? You need to work on building up the distance you are able to run, and slowly work your way up to those 14kms. A walk/run program is perfect; after you build up the distance you are then able to play with the speed/time of your run. Gradually increase your distance by 5% a week; this will avoid overtraining and help increase bone mineral density.


Listen to your body and ensure you get appropriate rest. If your body needs rest, take a break. There is only so much you can plan for; the rest is up to your body. You should have 1-3 days rest between training days, depending on the type, time and other factors.


Interval training will give the edge over other competitors and help increase speed. Heartbreak Hill, for example, is a 2km incline which will make the fittest person puffed if they haven’t properly trained.


The closer the event, the more intense your training should be, with less distance.

Final Tips

Other tips to help your training: always warm up and cool down, do event specific weight training, stretching and technique sessions, and also watch your diet and get enough sleep. All of this will make the difference when you get to the day of the event.

If you’re not sure on how to start, look for running club in your area or ask a qualified Personal Trainer.

Love running and fitness? Become a Personal Trainer with the Australian Institute of Fitness. Their Master Trainer program includes Certificate III in Fitness and Certificate IV in Fitness.



At the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), we are no stranger to the competitive and evolving nature of the fitness industry. That’s why we remain the #1 fitness educator since 1979. We continuously raise the bar by providing the best education and resources through dynamic and hybrid training methods that mould to your lifestyle. We are strong believers in evidence over fads, so you can be assured your training with AIF will solidify your career for the long-term.

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