If you want to get faster, finish a race, tackle a new distance, etc you will need to create a structured running plan with these few tips and tricks to help you get to that finish line injury-free.
1) Mileage- To begin you will want to think of a target distance you want to achieve. Maybe it's a 5k,10k, 10mile run, half marathon, or maybe even the marathon. Remember, the longer the distance the more time you will need to prepare and the more mileage you will need to run to build to that level. Depending on your goal distance, you will want to double that number to get an estimated distance for what you should run for your peak weekly mileage.
EX: Goal is a 5k, Peak Mileage will be a 10k or 6.2 miles
I always suggest beginners to run by time rather than distance. It's easier to go by time and not be so obsessed with the number on the watch.
2) Types of runs; Easy runs, Recovery/ off days, Cross-training, and Speed workouts. All of these are super important when it comes to running and building strength. You should be very intentional with each of these days, which includes easy or recovery days.
Easy Days- Easy days should be slow and controlled. If you find you are not feeling great, your heart rate is elevated, and your breathing harder, then you are running too fast. Slow it down.
Recovery/ cross-train days- If you are a beginner runner you should be having a few days off from running to let your body heal. Recovery days are when your muscles will repair and this is where you will build that strength. If you are more experienced you may only have 1 day off with some active recovery days or cross-training days where you may swim, bike, etc. Off days are also important in not burning yourself out mentally, give yourself a break.
Speed workouts- Workouts are important because they help to get you stronger and faster for your planned race or distance goal. You should do this 1 to 2 times a week depending on your experience level. Beginners should start by doing a workout once a week to start. Below is a list of different workouts,
Tempo- Tempos are usually at a controlled pace which is faster than your normal runs but slower than your race pace. You should be able to hold this for an extended period of time. Breathing should be heavier and you should feel tired by the end but not exhausted.
Interval repeats- Interval workouts tend to be shorter like 2 mins at a harder effort. These can be at goal race pace or faster. Usually, your recovery after these efforts is equal to the amount ran. To make it a little harder you can decrease the rest, for example, 2mins hard, 1 min recovery. During the recovery portion, beginners may walk or stretch, and for more experience, may jog during this recovery.
Hill repeats- Hill workouts are a great way to build strength and speed. Running uphill also keeps pressure off your joints and is a great way to diversify your training plan. I like to do hill workouts that start with longer repeats like running uphill for 2-3 mins, after a few of those I will add in some quick hill sprints that vary from 10-15 sec bursts. Really drive the knees and work on your form by standing up straight and lifting your knees while pumping your arms back and forth.
Warm-up/ Cool Down- Make sure you always jog before your workout to get your muscles ready to do a harder effort, this helps ensure you don't strain your muscles. Cooldown is also important to help reduce soreness after a hard effort.
3) Long runs- Long runs should be about 20-30% of your weekly mileage and you will do this once a week. Depending on your fitness and experience level they will be easy to moderate. I usually say starting your long runs at an easy, conversation pace jog, and as you progress get naturally faster to a more moderate pace where your breathing gets a little heavier and you can only talk in short spurts.
4) Lastly, I always suggest finding yourself a coach or running group to help with your training. They will help keep you accountable for your training and will help to keep you from getting injured or burning out.
I hope you enjoyed this blog on how to structure your runs, if you would like more help with your running, I am taking on new clients who want a coach. Just send me a message bellow