What to Look for When Choosing Your Running Training Plan

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Pixmac000083314401Having a plan in place is the best way to enable yourself to succeed.  Choosing that training plan, especially for your first long distance race, can be slightly overwhelming.  How do you know what to look for in a training plan when choosing it?

Our expert, Joe Vennare of Hybrid Athlete, gives us these pointers when choosing a running training plan to help us prepare for race day.  Learn what to take into consideration and the inclusions that will help you train all the way to the finish line.

A Plan for Success

For runners preparing for an upcoming race or individuals running as part of a general exercise routine, it is important to develop a training program to track progress and continually improve performance. The most important things to consider when programming your workouts or selecting a training plan is your personal goals and current fitness level. If preparing for a specific event or race, be sure to begin your program far enough in advance to allow for a safe build up in mileage and intensity. Using a training plan to schedule workouts and monitor performance will prepare the mind and body for the rigors of race day.

A well structured training plan will feature a general conditioning phase that focuses on improving overall fitness, while preparing the body for more rigorous exercise. Next, the base phase will present a steady increase in duration or volume of training runs to safely prepare the body to cover longer distances.

Moving on to the build phase, the main addition will come in the form of intensity. In a run specific program this should include track based speed workouts, interval sessions and/or hill sprints. Finally, if you are using a training program in preparation for a specific event, there should be peak and tapper phases that allow for fine tuning with respect to performance and conditioning, while decreasing training volume and intensity in the lead up to a race.

If you are running for recreational or fitness purposes, a training program can assist with the development and tracking of goals, while serving as motivation to improve. A running program for general fitness can include a mix of long runs, hill intervals, tempo runs, speed intervals, social runs and cross-training workouts.

Long Run: 10 min warm up, stretch, then try to run at a consistent pace/speed for 45-60 minutes. Each week try and increase duration by 5-10 minutes.

Hill Intervals: Run 10 minutes to warm up, then stretch, then run 5-10x steep hill repeats that take you 1-2 minutes to climb. Your rest is a walk or slow jog down to starting point.

Tempo Run: Warm up and stretch before completing a 25-45 minute run at the fastest pace you are able to maintain for the duration of the run.

Speed/Intervals: Warm up and stretch. Then, alternate between running hard and jogging for 30+ minutes. This might be 1 minute on 2 off, 3 on 5 off, 30 seconds on 2 minutes off. The idea is to keep varying your intensity, while running harder than you can for a sustained long run.

Social Run: Run/jog/walk with dog, kids, friends, family, and enjoy being outside. No specified time or intensity.

Cross-training workouts can include yoga, swimming, walking, hiking, lifting or bodyweight exercise. The intent should be to try and lessen the impact on the body, train strength and core.

The number of training sessions per week and the length of each sessions can be modified to suit your personal goals and fitness level.

Joe Vennare, Co-Founder and Director of Programming, Hybrid Athlete

How has your running training plan enabled you to cross the finish line on race day?

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