Whether you are aiming for a particular time or just want to get over the finish line, I have the Running Training Plan essentials that you should use to guide you when in comes to your training and reaching your goals.
3 Quality Days And The Rest Easy
Plan for 3 quality days a week of training - it is the quality days that will help improve your running and can include long runs, tempos and intervals on different days which should be tailored to your race. As an example, if you're racing a 5k then your long runs can be around 8 miles as you do not need to be aiming for marathon distance.
The Long Run will help build your endurance and mental toughness. Make sure you build this up slowly over the weeks to allow your body to adapt.
Interval Runs - this should be at a hard effort but no where near the distance of a long run. The distance and speed of the intervals should be tailored to the race you're aiming for which doesn't always mean trying to run at PB effort. Remember your desired pace may not be there at moment so you need to focus on training progressively.
Tempo Runs - these are comfortably hard efforts focusing on building endurance and speed. Tempo runs are also great for training your mind ready for race day as its essentially a harder session for longer periods which can take a bit of getting used to but invaluable to improve your running!
Make sure you rest and allow your body to make the adaptions you've been working towards during training. The amount of rest a person needs is really down to the individual. If you take a while to recover from fatigue or if you're injury prone then you may have extra rest days. Also, don't be afraid of having an impromptu rest day if you are really feeling tired. Rest days can also be a form of active recovery i.e. walking. Timings of your quality days are important here do not run two hard days back to back.
Warm Up And Cool Down
Your body needs time to wake up; to get the blood flowing around the body to warm up the muscles and increase flexibility. This will help protect against injuries. If you run early morning a warm up is even more essential as you've not long woke up and therefore haven't moved your body for a good few hours. Whenever you run aim to get in a 10 min warm up - this can be included within a long run or easy run as you could run the first 10 mins even easier. If you're about to set out on a session make sure you also include drills and strides.
I can't say this enough, Runners should do strength work. Why? The impact on your joints is 4+ times your body weight and your joints and bones need to be able sustain this with every stride you take. You may find your cardiovascular systems adapts really quick to training however due to the impact and tears on your muscles caused by training, your body can take longer to adapt. Make sure you train the whole body and not just the core. Of course, strength in your core will help towards running but all major muscles play a part in running so don't neglect these and no, just doing hills doesn't build the leg strength required! In your Running Training Plan, either do your strength work after a run or wait at least 8 hours after the run to get your strength work in. Please get your strength work in. I would go as far to say that if you honestly cannot squeeze it in then replace an easy run day with a strength day.
Take Time To Recover
As well as rest think about fuelling for your run and hydration pre, during and post run. Make sure you get enough sleep as this is when your body recovers and build in easier weeks into your training to to allow for adaptations to occur.
Train To Race
Try and run your runs at the same time as your planned race. This can also be a good way to practice fuelling. If you can't get the same time each day due to other commitments then try and practice this on your long run as this tends to be when people have more flexibility with time.
What If You Miss A Session
If you miss one workout then thats ok - just move on. If you're consistently missing a workout you may need to alter the Running Training Plan as a whole and possibly look at the end goal - is it realistic for your current commitments? Being unrealistic with your training can add pressure and make it seem impossible which can lead to you pulling out or really not enjoy training. If it looks like you're going miss a couple on the bounce then reschedule your week according to your goal. For example, if your goal is to a run a marathon then try and get the long run in that week.
A well designed Running Training Plan that can be adapted to address your commitments is key to your success when it comes to a running goal. I always encourage my runners to message me with their commitments so I can adapt their training to their lifestyle and ensure that they are prioritising the right training for their goal. Something which an online plan does not cater for. Its important that you enjoy training for the race you've signed up for and coaching is a great way to keep the enjoyment without the overwhelm.
Personal Trainer/LiRF/ Run Coach from Nottingham
Club: Holme Pierrepont RC