How to Start Running: Create a Training Plan
Have you been wondering how to train for your next race?
Are you looking for a quick and easy way to go from the couch to a 5K?
The next step in reaching these goals is by creating a training plan.
Why is a training plan important?
Have you ever seen a picture of a great meal but couldn’t find the recipe?
Or bought a new dresser and didn’t have the instruction manual to put it together?
A training plan for runners is just as important as any recipe or instruction manual.
Goal setting allows you the ability to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
A training plan creates the steps needed in order for you to reach your goal.
It complements your schedule and level of fitness so that you can train in the best possible way. You may have great intentions but without a training plan to keep you on track, you’ll be less likely to reach your goals. Creating a training plan takes out the stress and guesswork. So all you have to do is put on your shoes and head out the door.
What’s in a training plan?
A training plan does not need to be complicated or include a bunch of different things. For beginners, you only need to focus on running and resting. Figure out how many days a week you are available to train and how much time you can dedicate to doing it. Then look at both components and figure out how you can incorporate them into your plan.
As a beginner, keep your running routine as simple as possible. You can either run for time (ex. 30 minute runs for 4 days a week). Or you can run for distance (ex. 2 mile runs for 3 days a week). Don’t worry too much about speed. As your body gets used to running, you will naturally get faster over time. Your main goal is to run the entire time or distance without stopping or walking.
Again, your training plan is based on your SMART goals so figure out how you can reach the goal you set for yourself. If your goal was to complete a 5K (3.1 miles) then first figure out how many miles you can run right now.
Remember, this training plan is YOUR training plan. Nobody has the exact same goal as you. So if you can only run half a mile, then start there. If you can only run for 10 minutes, that’s OK too!
The point is you have to start somewhere so you know how much you will need to progress later.
Related: How to Start Running: Goal Setting
Resting is just as important as running! Do not forget to add in at least two rest days per week. You need this time to allow your body to recover. Take the rest days even if you don’t feel tired.
Rest days do not have to mean laying on your bed or couch all day waiting until you can run again. You can take this time to do low impact activities like swimming or yoga. Or go for a casual walk with your friends or family. Keep your heart rate low and enjoy the rest — you deserve it.
3. Strength Training
While beginner runners don't need to focus on strength training right away, it is still important. Strength training helps build muscles and prepare those runners that want to increase their running. Doing strength training exercises do not need to be time-consuming or require a gym membership. Bodyweight exercises are great and you can squeeze in a session in as little as 15 minutes. Try workouts that include lunges, squats, pushups, and planks.
If you’re not ready or don’t have the time for strength training, don’t worry. But consider adding it to your plan once you start getting consistent with your running.
How can I go from the couch to a 5K?
You first have to figure out how much time you have to dedicate to running and when you want to reach your goal. If you only have 3 days a week for 30 minutes, that’s totally OK! But be realistic with your plan. Don’t create a 5K training plan when your race is 2 weeks away.
Six weeks is typically the amount of time it can take for someone to train for a 5K. But you can always create a longer training plan if necessary. Use a calendar, Microsoft Excel, or any sheet of paper and make six rows for your six-week training plan. Create columns for each day of the week.
Let’s say you only have three days a week that you can dedicate to running. Decide which three days you want to run. Try to rest one day in-between each run. For example, run days could be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Then decide how much running you can do each day. If you can run 1 mile already, then for the entire first week you should run a mile each running day. After that, gradually start to increase your mileage every week. You can increase it by 0.25, 0.5, or by 1 mile. Whatever you decide, make sure by the last day of your 6 weeks, you have made it to 3.1 miles.
Still lost in sauce? Let me know in the comments and I can help you get started!
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