Start Your Running Training Program

No matter what your race day goal is, a running training program will better prepare you to make your pace on the big day. Just like our fitness plan, building a running training plan takes preparation, discipline and hard work. Make sure the goal that you’ve set for yourself is reasonable and that you have enough time to train for it. Use the race prediction calculator to help develop your goal race time based on your previous running times or race performances.

There are certain elements of your training program that will remain the same, independent of race distance, speed, or ability level. These are:

  • Endurance
    No matter what distance you are training for, your long runs should exceed this mileage. There is some disagreement on this point when it comes to the marathon. I have found more success in marathons where I have done 28-30 mile training runs, then when I used to do 20-mile training runs. If you’re running a long-distance race then endurance is a key element of your running training program. You’ll want to get out a calendar and mark the race down and then back into the distance. For example, 2-3 weeks before the race you’ll run your last long run (meet or exceed race distance); 2-3 weeks before this you’ll run 80-90% of the race distance; 2-3 weeks before that you’ll run 70-80%; and so on. For medium distance runs (10k and less), you’re challenge will likely be speed over endurance
  • Speed
    Speed work is a must for anyone pursuing a time-goal race. The misconception here is that your speed work should consist of “sprint-till-ya-puke” workouts at the track. Not true. Take a look at the race pace calculator and see what ‘race pace’ translates to for a portion of the race (440 yards for a 5k; 880 yards for a 10k; 1-mile for longer races). Make it your goal in speed-work to run consistent interval times just slightly faster than your race pace. This will train your body to handle that pace on race day, and hopefully prevent you from going out too fast only to dwindle in the later stages of the race. It’s a natural tendency to want to go “all out” when you’re running for time on the track. It’s best to hold yourself to the planned pace. The old school “all out” intervals take a longer time to recover from…especially if your high school years are well behind you!
  • Strength
    It goes without saying that strength is an important aspect to racing faster, but how we build strength can have varied results. For long distance running, hills are a terrific way to build the ‘running muscles’. Hills shorten our strides and force the body to do more work to maintain pace. Because the legs are going through the motions of running, I’ll take this strength workout any day over iron weights and the gym. But before you sell your weight bench…doing leg lifts, hamstring curls, calf raises, and squats are also great ways to build leg strength – especially for the back-up muscles that get used in the longer distances as the hamstrings and calf muscles tire. When you ‘map-out’ your running training program, be sure to add in flexibility stretches and drills with your strengthening work-outs, as they are both are critical elements in muscle development.

A running training program is unique to each runner and should be tailored to the individual. Training for a 5k? Click here for some training tips and a sample 5k training plan.

Return from Your Running Training Program to Running Races

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