1. How To Choose A Training Plan?
You're a novice runner and want to avoid making any mistakes as you take up running.
You're already an experienced runner, but want to reach a new level.
The best way to achieve this is to choose a training plan that matches your own running level or is tailored to the raceyou want to prepare for.
Before choosing your training plan, the first question you should ask yourself is how much time you can devote to your running (1, 2, 3, 4, etc. times a week) without it having an impact on your family or work life. Sport should never cut you off from everyday life or else your noble intentions will be short-lived.
Once you've established the right frequency of training, you just need to decide how many weeks you are going to spread your preparation over. Here again, most training plans come in several versions of varying lengths. In each case, it's best to choose the longest option since this will build up most gradually, thus ensuring you are as well prepared as possible.
2. Three Essential Sessions
All training plans include three types of session:
- Basic Endurance Runs: Basic endurance sessions (at about 65-75% of HR) form the basis of your training plan, with three-quarters of your training time devoted to them. The longer your intended race, the more likely it is that these sessions will occupy an even greater proportion of your training time. They consist of straightforward jogging, warm-up jogging (before an intensive session), recovery jogging (after an intensive session) and the sacrosanct long run. For runners focusing on ultra-distance or long trail runs, they may even include trail hikes.
- Short stints: About 15-20% of your training time will consist of sessions at about 80-90% of your HR, depending on your level and the distance you are preparing for. These sessions are fast paced but not exhausting. You need to "hold out" on these fairly long race sections (up to 15’ long), which are repeated 2-3 times.
- Short stints : There are short, intensive sessions enabling you to develop your Aerobic Maximum Speed (your maximum speed over a few minutes) via repeated, short 30 sec to 3’ stints interspersed with fairly short recovery periods.
3. Creating Your Own Training Plan
Now you know a bit more about the fundamentals of training, why not devise your own training plan?
It is certainly very rewarding to successfully achieve your racing goal after managing everything yourself (both the training and running aspects). BE CAREFUL though since this is a double-edged sword. You will often tend to over-train since you'll be haunted throughout your preparation period by a doubt that you haven't done enough.
Also, even though most champions know all about training methods inside out, they ensure they are supported by an outside "eye" during their training. This gives them a more objective analysis of the effort they are making. They hand over responsibility for this aspect of their training so that they can completely devote themselves to the sports aspect.
At least for your first few years of running, the safest option is to rely on training plans that have already proved effective. But there's nothing to stop you adapting them to your wishes and constraints.
Anyway, I wish you every success during your training sessions. As long as you do them in the right conditions, i.e. those that suit you best, they will be effective.
Enjoy your preparation
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