How to Determine Your Best Training Plan

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In the running world, there are so many different and effective training plans out there. That’s because everyone starts at a different level and responds to training differently. Maybe you like to race every weekend, or maybe you don’t like racing at all.

Like anything in life, it’s important to figure out what works best for you. It can be both challenging and overwhelming, but once you figure it out, it makes the sport much more enjoyable!

Where do you begin? How do you know which training plan is right?


Decide upon a goal race

While it seems obvious, finding a goal race that fits with your schedule and fitness is tougher than it sounds. You don’t want a race that is too soon. It will force you to ramp up mileage too quickly, but you also don’t want a race that is too late.

That will cause a long training cycle and makes you more susceptible to injury. Do your research and find a race that meets your needs.

Decide the training that works best for you

You should take into account your interests, current fitness and what you actually like. Do your research, talk to friends, and figure out what you are most comfortable with. Don’t sign up for a race because everyone else is doing it or everyone else likes the distance!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you thrive on high mileage? Do you have the time/desire to run as many miles as you can during the week?

Do you have a lot of time to dedicate to training? Are you a busy professional who travels for work, or have small children? That’s going to put a big dent in the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to running.

Do you excel at speed and track workouts? Figuring out your own strengths and weaknesses will help determine what kind of training is best suited for you.

Be realistic. The beauty of running is that we all start at different levels. There is no need to train at a higher level than your fitness. It will only cause burn out, fatigue or injury.

Plan ahead

Once you have a goal race and training plan to help get you there, it’s time to plan your next few months. Create a special calendar that includes your long runs and workouts. You don’t want to schedule a long run after a late night with friends.

Remember training plans are flexible and creating a schedule is beneficial for the overall goal. Small and minor details can be ironed out as you progress along!

Determine your appropriate paces

Figuring out appropriate pace is important. A few seconds per mile doesn’t matter but racing training runs or running easy runs too fast will cause injury. During my first year of running, I learned this lesson the hard way and ended up with a tibia stress fracture!

A few methods to determine appropriate paces

Run a time trial or race: This way you can get a good base of your current fitness level too.

Use a recent race time: Are you coming off a recent race? That works too!

Estimate: Always start on the easier end. There is no need to be a hero and race your training runs. Remember, paces are just numbers. They are easily adjustable as appropriate!

Now that you have a race, schedule, and your paces are determined, it’s time to start training! But training is never linear, and everything is easier said than done. Don’t forget, running can be adjusted, and nothing is set in stone. Don’t be afraid to back off due to fatigue or include additional rest days. Taking a few days off can often prevent taking months off.

The beauty of the sport is running doesn’t discriminate and everyone can get out there. It doesn’t matter what you’ve run or where you are starting, there is a race or training plan for everyone!

Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 30 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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