If you’re like many runners in between training seasons, you’re no doubt thinking carefully about what you aim to accomplish the next time around.
Will you run more or less mileage? Will you add additional workouts? Try a few more tune-up races? The options are seemingly endless.
But creating a good training plan doesn’t and shouldn’t be overly complicated.
The following guidelines and suggestions can help you make the most of your training time:
– Begin by working backwards from the date of your goal race or event. You need to give yourself adequate time to properly prepare. As a rule of thumb, give yourself 4-6 weeks for a 5K; 6-8 weeks for a 10K; 8-12 weeks for a half and 12-16 weeks for a full marathon.
– Once you’ve determined the start and end date of your training plan, begin by scheduling key long runs and workouts.
– You’ll want to do a longer run at least once a week. This run should make up between 20-30 per cent of your weekly mileage. Be sure to gradually build up until you’re able to comfortably run 8-12K if training for a 5K; 12-16K for 10K; 16-24K for a half and about 25-32K for a full marathon.
– Workouts should be limited to once or twice a week. When deciding on which workouts to include, look back to the ones you enjoy and which have brought you the most success. Consider experimenting with a few new ones as well. You should try to cover all your bases by doing a variety of workouts including shorter repeats, longer intervals, tempo runs and hills.
– Depending on your body and your history of training, add as many additional easy and recovery running days as you’d like in order to build up your mileage. These days are essential to your overall success and are actually when your fitness improves the most.
– In addition to running, consider supplementing your training with cross-training activities/exercises as well as dedicated sessions to improve general strength and flexibility.
– Make sure you also schedule some time for no training at all. This can take place regularly once or twice a week to allow for complete recovery or can be saved for after particularly hard workouts, long runs or before and/or after tune-up races.
Most importantly, it’s essential to be flexible with your training. You need to adapt to your circumstances whether it’s being busy at work, having responsibilities at home or when your body is telling you to take a break. Remember that being consistent in the long term is better than any one day of training.