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Design your Own Training Plan - A Beginners Guide

Creating your own training plan can be tough, especially if you’ve never done it before. But it can often be better than downloading a generic training plan from the internet which is very unlikely to be specific to you. By creating your own you can work around your own life and make it suit you.

We’ve put together some advice on how to create your own training plan. But first there are a number of factors you need to consider before writing your plan.

Your goals

Make sure the goals you set are realistic for you. It is very unlikely you’ll break 16 minutes for 5k if in your last race you ran over 20 minutes; so bear that in mind. You want your goal to challenge you but still be realistic; this way it gives you the right amount of motivation to train for it rather than giving up because it’s too hard or too easy.

Past injury History

You need to make sure that you are healthy in order to get through the training you want to. If you’ve had certain injuries before, factor these into your training plan by incorporating in strength workouts. Typically you should only increase one variable in your training at once and gradually increase mileage. For example when adding in speed work, keep your running mileage similar to the previous weeks before increasing.

Previous running experience

How much have you run before and how can you use your previous experience to help? You should look back at previous training cycles to see the types of training that has worked for you in the past and what has not. This may include the number of workouts completed each week or the length of your long run. By assessing previous training you can build upon your strengths whilst also highlighting and addressing your weaknesses.

The time you have available

Again you need to be realistic about how much training you can fit in whilst also scheduling cross training or strength training if needed. There is no point planning to run 8 hours per week if you can only commit to four. There is also very little point planning a speed workout on a Tuesday if you don’t have any time to train on that day. You are in control so make a schedule that fits in around you but remember to plan rest and easy days between hard workouts and long runs.

Other life stresses

For most of us, there will be a great number of other life stresses. If these are work or family commitments you need to take these into consideration when planning a training cycle. Things like getting poor sleep if you have to work late or getting a tight back from commuting must be considered when planning your own training.

So what should your plan actually contain?

Work back from your goal race

This is important so you know, the distance you are racing which can help make your workouts more specific, especially as race day gets nearer. For example if you are racing a 5k, doing a 22-mile marathon workout two weeks before probably isn’t the best idea. You’ll also be able to work out just how much time you have to train for the race and be able to factor in a taper phase.

Have a general weekly plan

This may help with consistency (e.g. session days are Tuesday and Friday) and provide motivation on days that you need it most. However if you find yourself becoming anxious about a workout on a Tuesday lunch time, swap the schedule about!

Train with a group

Will you be able to hold yourself accountable to get out of the door early on a Sunday morning to complete your long run, or hit those hill repeats hard? If not then running with a friend could be great or join your local running club.

Have flexibility

Don’t become a slave to the training plan. If you don’t feel great, listen to your body and take an extra easy day or slow the pace of your tempo run if you’ve had an especially busy day. Don’t pass up the opportunity of running with a group, even if they are doing a slightly different session to you. The likelihood is you’ll be getting the same or similar benefit.

A variety of different runs

Make sure your programme contains a variety of different training runs such as easy, tempo, intervals, hills and long runs. You don’t need to fit all these types of runs into one week either; rather you can spread them out over two or three.

Rest and recovery

One of the biggest misconceptions about running is that the harder you train the better you become. This is not true. It is recovery that produces the physiological adaptations so schedule these times into your plan.

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