Wake Up Running
Ordinary advice to help ordinary people "run" better lives

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Training Plan Tips

Let's face it.  Unless you're an elite athlete, and running is your job, you can't possibly make every single run.  Sometimes your schedule won't allow it, sometimes your body won't allow it.  So when (not if) miss a run, don't sweat it.  And don't make it up.  Move on and stick to the plan.  Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid Over Training: Over training is the number one cause of injuries in runners (no citation here, but a widely accepted and supported statement).  If you are training for a race, work backwards from the race date to determine how many weeks you have to train.  Select a plan that suits both your beginning fitness level and your available time to train.  If you can't make the appropriate training plan work, find a different race.  Risking injury is NOT worth it.
  • Recover: Every running plan has "off" days built in, TAKE THEM.  No matter how good you feel.  Your body needs time to rebuild the muscles you are tearing down with each workout.
  • Cross Train: If you have to do something on an off day, cross train.  Swim, ride a bike, play tennis, plant trees.  Do something other than running.  Your running muscles need the recovery.
  • Miss a Day, Move On: It's okay to miss a day.  Don't make it up, just move on. Your fitness level will maintain for weeks with minimal time to build back up.
  • Break Up Long Runs if Necessary: One run is optimal, but training mileage is what builds endurance, even if you have to break it into two runs a day.
  • Listen To Your Body:  Muscle soreness is one thing and is to be expected after a hard workout.  Body "pain" is an entirely different story.  Your body will tell you when something is wrong.  LISTEN.  Take time off, several days if necessary.  If the pain persists, see your doctor and have them stay on it until they figure it out.
  • ICE BATHS!  For me, any run over 10 miles is followed up with an ice bath.  Litrally a big bag of ice, dumped into a nice cold bath.  I make sure the water/ice cover my legs and then I sit for 20 - 30 minutes.  The process reduces the swelling in the microscopic muscle tears created by "over working" the muscles.  This 20 minutes of soaking may sound crazy (running 10+ miles requires a certainly level of insanity too), but it provides for a virtually pain free recovery in the days to follow.  
Training Plans

There are thousands of training plans for new and experienced runners alike.  Fortunately you can find a plan that is right for you by answering a few key questions.

1. What is your current running "status"?
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Competitive
2. What is your current fitness level?
  • Not a runner . . . yet
  • Run 3 miles without "stopping"
  • Run 8 miles without "stopping"
3. What type of race are you training for?
  • 1600 Meters (1 mile)
  • 5K (3.1 miles)
  • 10K (6.2 miles)
  • Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
  • Marathon (26.2 miles
Of course there are variables to each of the questions that are not covered with these answers, but reasonable adaptation for a "tweener" plan can be made.


Find a Training Plan For You

Running Planet
You can Google, Yahoo, Ask, Lycos and Bing "running plans" 'til your heart's content, but the one place we love to start for training plans is runningplanet.com.

Running Planet has free training plans to help you go from "sedentary to 5K", "marathon to ultra marathon" and everything in between.  These plans are how I got my start and I've recommended them to dozens of people since.



FIRST
For those who've battled injuries from excessive running, or who can't seem to establish new PR's (personal records), you might want to check out the Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training's FIRST Training Programs.  These break through training programs have been featured in Runner's World magazine and are outlined extensively in the book, Run Less Run FasterWhile the plans are fairly intense, you don't have to be fast or "competitive" to use them and they will help runners of all levels to improve fitness and speed while minimizing the risks associated with burnout and over training.