Spring training is under way! Today, I’m introducing my new series: the building blocks of your training plan. There are so many different training methods out there and I truly believe that there is usually more than one way to meet a goal. However, we need to remember that everything we do in a training plan must be selected based on goals. If it isn’t going to help you work on a specific outcome for your training plan, it shouldn’t be in the plan. Even if “everyone” else is doing it.
For the new runner
When you are new to running, I would skip the fancy workouts and stick to the basics. The point of your training is to get to the finish line safely. This means that you will be building your endurance throughout the training plan.
My favorite place to start with a new runner is a couch to 5k style training plan. This will walk you through from a run/walk program up to running for about 30 minutes straight. The slow progression is the key with this training plan. It helps to build confidence and transition you to running with minimal injury risk.
If you’ve run a 5k, 5 miler, 10k and are looking to switch up to the half marathon distance I would recommend starting with a good base. You should be comfortable running 3-4 times per week with short mileage of 3 miles per run and long mileage of 5-6 miles per run. It would be ideal to run that type of schedule for about 4-6 weeks leading up to the start of your training. Once training begins, it is still about building up endurance for the long runs. There usually won’t be specific workouts in a beginner half marathon training plan.
For the experienced runner looking to PR
After you have been running for about a year, you will probably start to really focus on becoming a better runner. At this point, you will have goal races selected with a training cycle planned for a peak at the time of your goal race. Once again, it is very important for the experienced runner starting a training cycle with a solid base. Aerobic endurance is the foundation that you will build upon with your targeted workouts.
What are the different types of workouts that you can add to your plan?
· Speed work variations
· Tempo work variations
· Long run variations
· Hybrid workouts
· Easy/Recovery/Cross training workouts
In general terms, the more ambitious the goal the higher the number of weekly miles and targeted workouts. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule with specific low mileage plans. It is really important to remember that training plans should be progressive. That means that only one variable should be manipulated at a time. In addition, mileage increases should be monitored so that there is a slow build-up of weekly miles. Both of these factors are key ways to minimize injury risk. Another way to decrease injury risk is to add in rest days and cut back weeks. This will help to prevent excessive fatigue and burnout. When selecting a plan or working with a coach, your goals should be analyzed and the workouts selected for your training plan should work to maximize your strengths and correct your weak areas.
In each of the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at the individual building blocks that can be selected for a training plan.