I am terrible at following a training plan for running as-written. I always end up making modifications and adjustments for my own preferences. Also, sometimes injury or sickness makes it necessary to modify a written program to be able to continue to train. So over the past few years, I’ve learned some tricks to make up my own plans as needed!
I advise beginners to find and follow a pre-existing training plan since you are unexprienced. You can find lots of great, free plans online. My favorite has always been those by Hal Higdon. Once you are familiar with training and racing, feel free to try some of the tips below!
Tip 1: Pick Your Goals
First, you need to decide your goals. Do you want to run for fitness? Do you want to run longer distances? If you are training for a race, do you want to PR (personal record) or just finish? Also, how often do you want to run? Once you figure out these details, you can start your plan. Make a rough draft of what your weekly runs will look like. If you want to PR, you will have to incorporate some speedword such as intervals, hills, and tempo runs. If your goal is to just finish, just plan out some easy weekly runs and increase your mileage slightly each week.
Tip 2: Incorporate Strength and Cross Training
In order to be a strong runner, not only do you need to run often but you also need to strength train. Cross training (cardio other than your regular workout) can also be beneficial. Dont forget to add this into your weekly routine.
Tip 3: Remember to Rest and Taper
When planning out your weekly runs, figure out where you are now – how often you run, how far, how fast, etc. Then, build up your mileage and time spent running each week. If you have enough weeks before race day, add in some lower-mileage weeks for rest and recovery. Finally, don’t forget to taper before the big day so your legs are fresh and ready!
Tip 4: Follow the 10% Rule
Also, when increasing your mileage each week, make sure you don’t overdo it. The general rule of thumb is to only increase by 10% (by the way, I have not checked my above example. I just threw it together). Just make sure you dont make a huge jump or you risk injury or overtraining.
Tip 5: Give Yourself Time
Finally, make sure you have enough time to train for the big event. When I make a training plan, I often start with race day and work backwards. This will tell me if I have enough time to properly train without injury.
And that is basically it! I usually start with an existing training plan and modify it but after 6 half marathons, I pretty much know what works for me. Then again, there is always more to learn!
Disclaimer: I am not a running coach, personal trainer, or any sort of sports expert. I am simply sharing my own practices for race training and opinions. Please use caution when excuting any change in activity or exercise and use your own judgement.