How to Create a Running Schedule
The nature of our goals defines what sort of runner we are. You may want to increase your fitness or lose some weight, increase your self-confidence or reduce stress. Or maybe you're preparing for a big race. Effective goal-setting is an important part of increasing your motivation and commitment to running.
Whatever your goal, here are some tips to help you create a personalised running schedule.
1 - Choose a Start and End Date
- Preparing for a big race
You need to consider how long you need to train for it. This will depend on the distance and challenge of your race. Usually, training plans range between 8-24 weeks. If the race is short (5k), 8 weeks is plenty of time if you’re initial fitness is good. If you’re training for a marathon, you should allow up to 24 weeks to prepare.
- Preparing a running schedule around your current routine and commitments
Having a scheduled start and end date will give you an achievable goal to work towards. You will have increased fitness levels after completing the first schedule, as well as increased confidence. You can then consider a revised schedule which will challenge you, with the intention to improve your fitness and ability as the weeks progress. Add extra distance to your runs, increase the intensity or aim to increase your speed.
2 – Select a Weekly Running Template
Your basic weekly running template should remain the same every week. For example, if you schedule to run at 7am on Monday, you should run at 7am the following Monday and every Monday thereafter. The number of runs each week should also remain the same. But add some more challenging runs to increase your fitness levels and prevent complacency. The key is to begin easier then challenge yourself as the weeks progress. Here is an example of a simple running template:
- Monday – Easy run
- Tuesday – Moderate - High intensity run
- Wednesday – Easy Run
- Thursday – Long run
- Friday – Moderate – High intensity run
- Saturday – Easy run
- Sunday – Rest
3- Preparing for a Race
Choose your hardest week of training (your peak week). Your hardest week of training should be 2 or 3 weeks before the actual race and this should be the maximum training you expect to be able to handle by that time. You need to consider 2 things. First, which is your hardest work out? This will depend on the type of race. Is it a long run? Or a set of high intensity running intervals? (5 x 1000 meters at 5k pace) Or a tempo run? (5 miles at half marathon pace). For example, if you’re training for a 5k race, the high intensity should be your hardest work out. If you’re training for a 10k or a half marathon, emphasise the tempo run. Or, if it’s a marathon then test all of these style runs.
The other decision is how many miles to run in your hardest (peak week) training. This should be close to the maximum number of miles you think you can achieve by then and a close number to the length of the race. So, if it is a 10k race then you should be aiming to get as close to 10k as possible in your peak week.
4- Plan your First Week of Training
- Week 1 should conform with the weekly template you’ve chosen.
- Two of your work outs should include a longer run and another should be a faster / high intensity run.
- Keep the number of moderate – high intensities low in your first week
- Your priority is to increase overall mileage which is easier when faster running is kept to a minimum
5- Complete the Remaining Weeks of your Running Schedule
- Fill in the rest of your schedule by making workouts more and more challenging and more similar to your peak week.
- Make every third or fourth week recovery and reduce the mileage by up to 30% so that your body can recover and allow you to prepare for harder training.
- Once this is complete it's time to put your Running Schedule into practice. Good luck!
Be realistic with your goals. Set a start and end date according to your goals. Your running schedule should remain the same but increase the intensity each week by adding in faster / high intensity runs or increase your mileage. Build in your recovery week and peak week. If you stick to your schedule you will see performance improvement and a huge increase to your fitness levels. Get to work and reach your goal.
If you’d still like a little help in creating a personalised running schedule, there are some great running apps that can help you. A popular app is mapmyrun. It monitors how you are performing against your set goals and can be downloaded on most smart phones.
Do you benefit from a running schedule? I'd love to hear your success stories!