There are two issues that hold back many runners. First, we get stuck in our tracks. We do what we do, the same runs, the same routes, the same sessions, and we hope for progress rather than planning. Second, we are caught in the short term. As we look to a new year, this article encourages you to think about planning. What does a good training plan look like and what are the pitfalls? What does he understand and how can you make sure he grows with you over time?

Why is planning your training important?

Having a plan can increase both the accountability and the focus of your training. It can add variety, which we know is an important tool in developing fitness, but it can also keep you interested and motivated. A well thought out plan can also focus your training on the specific demands and demands of your personal goals.

More than that, however, it gives you a structure from which to change, develop, and grow. After all, if you’ve been training aimlessly and not getting the results you want, how do you make the right decisions about what to change next time? So having a plan can definitely help you move your run forward, but there are ways that you can cause us more problems, not less, through the way we plan. Here are some things to avoid:

Panic preparation: I often find that runners look for a training plan a number of weeks before a goal event, say 16 weeks before a marathon. It really is a misunderstanding of performance and can often lead to injury and frustration as we move too quickly into events with too small a base and no real connection to the training that came before them.

What matters: A race plan without a lifestyle, conditioning, and recovery plan means you are missing out on many key performance limiters. Despite this, usually when runners think about planning it begins and ends at their running shoes.

Planning of Nostradamus: It can be heartwarming to see 16 weeks of training organized with every pace, rep and mile in black and white. It gives the impression of predictability. Unfortunately, life and our response to training are not always predictable. A rigid plan that aims to predict the future often leads to poor decisions and the risk of injury. If it’s on paper, many runners find it difficult to adjust, back down when they need to, or lose confidence when they change what they think was the perfect initial plan. Limits and constraints put in place by too much detail too soon can also place restrictions on runners – maybe you’re up for more?

The comfort zone: We tend to build or find plans that confirm what we want to do, whether it works or not. Of course, it’s important to be comfortable with what many others might find repetitive – easy runs, consistent training, the patient approach. But we also have to be prepared to take a different approach sometimes, so we have to be careful not to stick with what we know just because it feels comfortable to us.

Liability vs ownership: Over the years, many runners have told me that they like training plans because they don’t have to think about it, they can just continue with the training. It always sets off a warning ringtone for me. Yes, having a plan or a coach can help with accountability, but it should be your plan, you should own the process and not just be a submissive recipient. Ownership of your plan is the key to being fully invested and over time the key to success.

7 things to consider when developing a training plan

1. Principles not prescribed

We often hear the mantra of the process rather than the result. This is fine, but you still need to know the desired outcome for the process to be correct. Instead of slavishly spreading out every session, minute, beat, or heart rate for the next 12 weeks, maybe instead thinking about planning what you’re working on, what change are you trying to achieve over the next six weeks? With these guiding principles in place, you can start making better decisions every day. Want to get started in a club session or add an additional race? Ask yourself, “Will this bring me closer or further away from my six week goal?” “

2. Analyze and review

Flexible planning and individualization based on emerging information is essential for long-term progress. No matter what it says on paper, your plan should evolve and adapt to your body, motivation, lifestyle, and response to training. Along with your plan, try using data like heart rate variability (HRV), GPS, heart rate data from your workouts, as well as self-rated assessments of your motivation and recovery levels. .

3. Get granular

You may still want to put in detailed training in order to maintain that sense of responsibility. I suggest setting yourself only two to three weeks of detailed training at a time. In this way, you can gradually integrate the learning mentioned above and remain flexible and adaptable to the unpredictable nature of life while still feeling like you have direction and structure.

4. Get married

This article does not focus on how to train, but it is clearly an essential part to consider if your plan is going to work nonetheless. As a starting point, you need to know what you are training for. Do you have a race you are preparing for? Are you planning to build a foundation in the winter? Is your plan really linked to your goals? It sounds basic, but so often I see shots that don’t match the goals. If you want to train for a marathon, you might have to sacrifice, for example, your weekly attempts to establish a few parkrun PBs. A good plan forces us to make a commitment.

5. Plan holistically

When setting your four to six week pure running goals, consider adding goals for your fitness, nutrition, and recovery as well. A good plan should include more than just running. Plan with a holistic approach.

6. Take the macro shot

Try to break free from the short-term approach. Your planning is a continuous process of learning and adapting, and a good plan doesn’t end after you run for goals. It brings your recovery afterwards, then your continued development. The race you do today contributes to whatever you want to do next year.

7. Challenge yourself

While you can only define the actual details of your training over seven to 21 days, develop a broad direction of travel to sit behind it all. As you do this, consider times of the year when you are setting yourself up for different challenges – for example, doing a cross country, or even a track season, perhaps – and times of volume and intensity. higher and lower. Also consider a time period when you plan to rest and specific downtime away from the race. Variety enhances physical fitness.

Tom Craggs is Road Race Manager for England Athletics

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