How to Create a Training Plan

People often ask me how to develop a training plan or how to make running enjoyable. Here are a few thoughts.

SET A GOAL 

You should always start with writting out your running goals. This can be anything from running a mile without stopping to finishing a marathon.  Identifying your goal is the first step to achieving your goal then establish subgoals.  For instance if you want to run a half marathon, consider racing in a 5K and 10K first. These subgoals will help keep you focused and give you confidence to achieve your goal.

KEEP VARIETY IN YOUR TRAINING

Doing the same thing over and over can be boring and can actually cause injury. All good training plans include variety. A quick way to spice up your training is to change the location/terrain of your runs. Although running in the streets or sidewalk is convenient, consider finding some running trails in your neighborhood. I’ve used Strava and All Trails in the past to find new routes. The softer surface will be easier on your legs and offer a change of scenery.

Another idea is to vary your workouts. You should have at least three different types of runs in your weekly training plan: a long run, an easy recovery run, and a hard effort (intervals, hill repeats, or tempo runs). Each of these has its own purpose which we’ll discuss briefly.

  1. Long Runs: There are multiple scientific benefits to long runs you can read about here, but essentially the long run is important in helping you prepare for your race.  Your long run will vary according to your goal race distance, but it should be no more then 20% of your weekly total mileage.  The pace should be easy too, you should be able to hold a conversation the entire run.  The goal of the long run is to prepare you legs and brain for the race.
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  2. Easy Recovery Runs: These will make up the majority of your weekly runs. They should be as easy and slow as you want them to be. The emphasis is on recovering from your hard effort runs.
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  3. Hard Efforts: Hard efforts help develop your aerobic and anaerobic threshold. This is done by running at or near your goal race pace. Some of the most common workouts that do this are listed below.
    • Fartlek– Aside from sounding funny, this is the most basic workout for runners. Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “speed play”.  Its a great way to introduce hard effort or pace training for beginners. You can visit here to learn more, and get some ideas.
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    • Interval Training– Lets say your goal is to run a 5K in 18 min.  A good workout would be 12 x 400m. Each rep should be run at a 6 min pace (90 second laps), with a recovery time of 2 min between each rep. This is also a good way to practice the pace you want to run.
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    • Hill Repeats – Hills help your legs build endurance and stamina. Find any hill and run 10 – 15 repeats for a duration of 15-45 seconds depending on your comfort level.  When considering recovery you can walk or jog down to the bottom of the hill, then go straight into your next rep.
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    • Tempo Runs – A tempo run is a great workout for intermediate and experienced runners, and also simulates race pace. The idea is to run each mile of the workout at or near race pace, and get progressively faster each mile. An example for someone training to run a 10K in 48 min would  look like this:  1 mile warm up/8:20 mile/8:15 mile/8:10 mile/8:05 mile/8:00 mile/7:55 mile or faster/1 mile cool down.

TRAINING PARTNERS

Keeping yourself accountable during training can be tough. Having someone to run with makes it easier; someone to share the miles with, or give you a little motivation when you’re tired. Next time you sign up for a race, bring a friend with you and train for it together.

Take some time, and create your own plan with these points in mind, and remember we are always here to help you answer questions!

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