Now that spring is well on its way, many runners are looking towards spring races and evaluating where they’re at fitness wise after the winter. While runners racing longer distances have been at it for months, several are getting into training plans now. If you’re a beginner with sights set on a 5, 10 or 15K race, you might be in the early stages of training. Here are some things you should know about the do’s and don’ts of scheduling your workouts:
DO: Keep workout days consistent
Your plan might call for a number of workouts per week but it may not specify which days should be reserved for workouts. Instead of changing it up every week, look at your schedule and pick the days that would be best suited for more intense work. Give at least one day in between. Sticking to a routine will make sure you get the workouts done. So if you decide to make Monday and Wednesday workout days, keep it that way week after week.
DO: Follow your plan closely
When your plans calls for intervals or hills, do them. When it specifies distances for your runs, make sure you’re running those distances. If you slack off, you won’t be gaining the fitness or building the base you need. Plus, if you jump back into the plan later not having done the work, you could end up hurt.
DON’T: Schedule your easy run without having done a hard workout the day before
The idea behind the easy run is to give your body a break after a tough workout or long run. Schedule easy days and rest days to compliment those hard sessions. Don’t just pick a day where you don’t feel like running.
DON’T: Do intense workouts back to back
If you do hard workout two days in a row, you won’t be getting the recovery that you need in between. On the second day, you will not be getting the full benefits of your workout either. Space them out so you’re not exhausted going into sets of fast intervals.
DO: Give workouts full effort
The idea behind your workouts is to increase your speed and build fitness. If your plan calls for speed work at 5K or 10K race pace, don’t go any slower than that. This is your time to train your body to get used to running at speed. Resist the urge to jog or ease up on the pace as the sets go on. Your workout is not designed to mimic regular run pace. It’s supposed to feel fast. If you put in the work now, race pace will feel more natural on the actual day.
DON’T: Do too much too fast
Many of us have fallen into this trap. You’re motivated for your race and you like how your training has been going so far so you pick it up and start doing longer distances. While it can be tempting to go above and beyond what your plan suggests, doing too much too fast often leads to injury. You don’t need to destroy your hard efforts by tearing a muscle or getting a stress fracture.
DO: Take rest days
Rest and recovery are equally as important as tough runs. Your body needs the time to repair muscles. Give it time to rest before the next big session on the track.
Don’t: Chug tons of water or cram in a meal before a run
It’s a similar rule to swimming. If you want to eat, you’re going to have to wait before heading out the door. A belly full of spaghetti is going to feel extremely uncomfortable when you’re running. Either wait until after to have your meal, or allow time for digestion so you’re not getting killer stitches.