Thursday 12 September 2013

Creating a Training Plan

Hi Guys, Charlie Sharpe here and I’m your resident expert at Run Geek. I’ll be doing several blogs about running over the coming weeks and also some seminars in the coming months, so let’s get started.
The first thing I want to talk about is having a training plan, why it’s a good idea to have one and how to put one together.
A training plan is important as its going to give you a structure to your training and it will keep you on track to help you make progress. So, where do you start?
Pick a race or an outcome (a GOAL), it could be anything, a 5k or 10k race, a half marathon or even longer than a marathon. Let’s choose a half marathon as an example, and say your goal is to train for it for the next three months. (We’re going to cover goal setting in detail in a future post).
First you need to consider where you are right now and what elements are going to be needed. If it’s your first half marathon, you might be more concerned about building up to the target mileage, or if you’re more advanced it could be about improving your speed and getting a faster time.
Ideally, you need to be running at least three times a week and make each run a bit different. Say you keep doing the same four-mile loop, you’ll make progress initially but then you’ll need to change things to keep progressing.
Here’s what you’ll need to consider:
Endurance – being able to run longer distances without stopping. You should increase your distance by a rough maximum of 10 per cent per week over four weeks and then have an easier week on week five perhaps. This gives your body time to recover, which is a really important consideration.
Speed – this could be the target for a more experienced runner but even beginners should consider it too. Once you’re running regularly, introduce interval sessions, running at a faster pace for a certain length of time. It gets you used to turning your legs over faster and gets the heart and lungs ready to move more oxygen through your body. For a beginner, intervals could simply be ‘strides’, or controlled but fast bursts of speed for 30 seconds with a good rest – say 90 seconds- in between. More experienced runners could consider doing intervals of varying distances from 200m to 1 mile depending on the training phase. I’m also a big fan of hill running to build strength and this can be done in interval fashion too.
It’s not all about going farther and faster every single time. You need some easy runs as well. They will help your running efficiency by getting your muscles used to the motion of running. Whilst more mileage might be a good thing initially, it’s not always a case of the longer the better; you may just tire yourself out. Sometimes you can run smarter rather than longer.
Those are your three types of run for your basic training plan. You can use variations of each of them and they should be specific to your target.
What else should you include in your training plan?
You may include non-running training – also known as cross training. This could be swimming or cycling for example. Whilst the best run training is running you can still get a workout without stressing your body in the same way day in day out. I’ve found Cycling, particularly on hills, can strengthen your legs and has some cross over to running.
Your next training consideration should be gym type exercises. Although you don’t necessarily need a gym. These are conditioning exercises that are going to build your core strength and good exercises to do are exercises that mimic the same joint motions and forces of running. I use heavily modified versions of traditional exercises such as lunges and other single leg movements both in my own training and with clients.
Now we’ve got those components to our training plan, let’s think about how you put them together.
The plan needs to be progressive and training should be consistent. You’ll not progress if you do a long run tomorrow and then hang up the shoes for four weeks before doing another run. How you play this depends on you and your running level – a beginner might want to work on building mileage more gradually while a more advanced runner might already be packing the miles in and want to build speed.
Don’t forget that not every run is going to be longer and faster than the previous. It’s good to have relaxing run from time to time, perhaps with friends, where you can just enjoy it. Running’s not all about slogging through endless miles!
Let’s recap on our training plan:
You should have three different types of run – mileage builders, shorter interval runs for increasing speed and some easy run to enjoy relax;
Cross training – non running exercise such as cycling that builds strength and works your aerobic system without putting demands on your joints;
Conditioning exercises – gym type exercises to improve your core strength, improve your muscle co-ordination and improve your flexibility that will ultimately have a beneficial impact on your running.
Any questions, just jump on my website and use the contact form –
I’ll be back soon on the Run Geek website with more topics such as what running gear to choose, goal-setting and how to run faster.
I’ll also be at the Run Geek store on Thursday 19th September at 7pm for Run Geek first ‘School of Run’ when I’ll be talking about running and answering any questions you might have.
In the meantime happy running and enjoy yourselves!

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