With the end of the spring racing block, now is the time to think back on the season that was and plan ahead for what’s to come.
Every runner should consider taking at least some time off from hard training after completing one training season and before beginning the next. This time allows the body and the mind to recover from the energy invested in training over the past months. It also allows you to think about what you successfully accomplished and what you still want to achieve.
There are plenty of elements you’ll need to consider when planning your next season. Your first task should be to work backwards and think about future goals. Do you want to run your first marathon? Looking to set a new half-marathon PB? Perhaps you’re aiming to run two races in two days.
Your goals will play a major role in your approach. Everything is impacted including how often you’ll run, the total mileage you’ll need to hit and what types of workouts you should run each week. It’s important to set both short and long-term goals and process the desired outcome. Short-term goals include what you want to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Examples of long-term goals are those that want to accomplish by the end of the season. Process goals are those that relate to how you will go about meeting your overall target. Think of them as stepping stones. Examples could include the types of runs you do, diet, sleep and preferred cross-training.
Answering the tough questions:
Here are a few important questions to ask yourself before beginning your next training block:
What are the goals for this season? List as many as you can and be specific. Goals should be SMART in that they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-oriented.
How often am I prepared to run each week and what should my monthly mileage be? Be sure to create a rough schedule that includes what days you’ll run and also for how long/far. Begin with a weekly or monthly schedule but be sure to remain flexible and willing to adjust if you need to make changes.
What harder efforts will I run each week? Of all the runs you do, some should be done at a harder pace. Track intervals, fartleks, tempo runs or hill repeats are all examples of dedicated efforts that help you improve as a runner. You should carefully consider when and how to include these runs in your training and be sure to provide a day before and after any hard run for extra recovery.
How long should my longest run be? Regardless of the distance you’re training for, all runners should include a longer run once a week (or at least once every two weeks). The long run is the best way to improve your running endurance and strength. Marathoners might build up to running 30-35K in a single run while those training a 5K should still aim for 15-20K. In general, your longest run will make up 20-30 per cent of your weekly mileage.
Aside from running, what will I do to help accomplish my goals? Think about your diet and nutrition, sleep, cross training and injury prevention. There are many non-running things you can do to compliment your running. Be sure to make some of these a priority for the upcoming season.