simple steps to building your own running training plan
One of the most common things I hear as a coach at MYSTRYDE Train from new runners is “I’m not a runner." My response to that is always, “if you run, you are a runner.” That is true whether you’re currently a casual weekend warrior or you’ve never picked up a pair of running shoes in your life. Running is one of the lowest barrier to entry sports you can get into. All you need is a pair of sneakers and some workout clothes. Look at Forrest Gump - he ran across the country with just shoes and his clothing! Running can be for everyone - whether you are fast or slow, young or old, new to running or been around the block. It is universally accessible and truly, that’s what makes it one of the best sports in the world.
However, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “runner,” reframing your mindset to measure progress from where you are now is a great way to keep from getting discouraged. Start with 20-30 minutes a couple times per week and add in walk/run intervals where you need. Slowly add on minutes to your daily runs and shorten the amount of time spent in those walking intervals, if you choose to add those in. Once you reach a point where you feel comfortable with a few short runs a week, it’s time for a schedule!
It may seem daunting to put together a schedule for training, but there’s a simple formula you can follow that helps to organize your runs and build out your week. Break your runs down into 3 categories and try to incorporate each category at least once in your week. Another pointer? Think about assigning a purpose to each run!
The first type of run you want to include is an easy run. These are typically shorter runs with a comfortable pace about 60-90 seconds slower than your goal race pace. While it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to get faster can sometimes be to slow down some of your miles. Adding tempo work is a key part of building your speed, but running all of your miles at a fast pace can actually have the reverse effect if your body isn’t able to recover from the hard efforts. Depending on how many days per week you are running, include these easys runs 1-4 times per week.
The second type of run you will want to incorporate is a speed workout. These can be done as interval training, track workouts or tempo runs. New runners often shy away from speed work but don’t be intimidated by this type of workout. The main goal with this type of run is to build your speed and strength and improve your body’s oxygen efficiency and leg speed. Simply put, a speed workout is any type of workout that pushes your pace or intensity for short amounts of time or distance.
It doesn’t have to be complicated! It can be as simple as 8-10 sets of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy (interval run) or incorporating one run a week that includes 20-25 minutes below your race pace (tempo run). Aim to add these types of sessions to your training schedule once a week to start.
The last type of run you will want to incorporate in your weekly schedule is a long run. This will be the run that’s used to build your overall endurance. If you have a distance goal or race in mind, start at a comfortable distance for you and aim to add roughly 10-15% to that distance each week. Often, we will add .5 - 1 mile per week to the long run. It’s not necessary to run the full distance of your race before but the idea is to work your way up until you reach a couple miles shy of your goal distance.
With each passing week, these runs will increase your endurance and build strength. Long runs should be done within about 15-30 seconds of your goal race pace. This allows you to adjust to running that pace for a long duration and helps your body to learn the cadence of your race pace.
There are 3 other things to aim to incorporate when building your weekly training schedule. Strength training is incredibly important for building endurance and helping performance, but also for injury prevention. The stronger your body during your training, the less likely you are to encounter muscle imbalances and weaknesses that can cause sidelining injuries.
Cross training is another important component of a training program. This is categorized as any exercise that engages different muscle groups than running. It can include biking, swimming, yoga, HIIT, etc. Cross training is a great way to build fitness while not overloading your body with running alone.
Last and sometimes most important of all, is rest days. It’s important to add at least 1 day each week to fully rest. This will allow your body to recover and reap the benefits of the work done throughout the rest of the week. Plus, it gives you the chance to reflect on your training accomplishments from the past week and both plan and look forward to the next week of training…on fresh legs.
Bottom line, getting started can seem like an uphill battle. But a clear plan can help get you on track and ready to hit the ground running. The best news is, every run builds strength and endurance. The more consistent you are, the easier it will become. Progress is progress and it's important to remember that.
And if you're looking for personalized training regimes created for you from experts, our coaches at MYSTRYDE Train at ready to help you find your stride!
More About Rachel
Rachel has been a MYSTRYDE coach since 2016. From the beginning, she’s had her hand in creating the race training programming that MYSTRYDE offers and her focus as a coach is to build a community that is welcoming, inclusive, hardworking, passionate, and challenges runners to push their limits. Her coaching philosophy? Encouraging runners to create a purpose behind their runs, keeping their mental game positive and always holding onto the joy.