After you’ve carefully built a running base and have begun experimenting with some of the different types of runs that you can perform, it’s time to start putting together your very own running training program that is going to take your progress to a whole new level.
Varying your runs from session to session will not only add a much higher level of interest in what you’re doing, but will also help to stimulate the body in different ways, boosting your overall level of fitness.
Here is how you should go about designing your own running training program.
The very first step you should do when creating your running program is determine the total number of days you plan to run on. If you’re someone who participates in other forms of exercise such as resistance training or team sports, you won’t have as many free days to run as someone who is strictly focused on their running training.
As such, you need to tailor how you plan out your training week, adjusting the total number of days you should train. In every training week you should try and get in a long run (assuming you are training for some type of endurance event) along with one variety of speed workout, as well as a tempo run.
If you’re very active outside of running, these three sessions will likely make up your training week, while if you’re less active and just a runner, then you can add a couple other varieties of speed workouts to help boost your overall results as well as an easy run or two for recovery purposes.
Once you’ve decided how many days you will be training, the next step is to set your long run. Whether you’re training for a 5km, 10km, half marathon, or going for the full marathon event, your long run is the bread and butter of your program.
This is where you’re going to challenge your body for maximum endurance and see just how far you can push it. As your training program progresses on you should work at increasing the duration of this long run, but typically only by no more than 10% each week.
It’s important not to overdo it because then you’ll struggle to recover after it and be able to complete the rest of your training sessions for the week.
Generally you should also have a complete day of rest after the long run or if you prefer, a very light and easy run just to get the legs moving.
Once that long run has been set up, then you’ll schedule in your speed workouts. Speed workouts can be divided up into three different types of runs, interval training, fartlek training, and strides. Interval training will have a set duration for you to perform the faster sections, while fartlek training is known as ‘speed play’ and will have variable periods of faster paced running. Strides are where you will perform sprints at your 800 to 1500 meter pace ten times before moving into an easy 30 minute run and are recommended to be performed once per week as part of your training plan.
If you’re on a limited time schedule with your training each week, strides would be good to place before an easy run, and then you can choose between some fartlek or interval training for one other session. This leaves you with three workouts total including the long run that can be spaced with one day between sessions.
If you have more time to train, then you can add both types of speed workouts as well as your stride training once or twice a week for a four to five day running schedule. Note that you should only perform strides twice a week if you are slightly more advanced and know that your body can handle a slightly higher volume level.
So given the above information, your weekly training schedule might look like this:
Monday: Interval Training
Wednesday: Strides + Easy Run
Thursday: Fartlek Training
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Off or very easy run
Remember to constantly monitor how you are feeling throughout your training weeks and if you ever find you are becoming extremely fatigued that will be a signal that you should ease off the runs slightly so that you have more time to recover.
Also look at the overall increase in volume and intensity and make sure that you’re not overdoing things as that is also an easy way to quickly become burned out or injured.
If you approach your training in a smart manner however you should be able to include all the varieties of runs all while seeing constant program improvements.