As we look forward to the next year, you may be in the process of choosing the races you want to participate in. Whether you are in the beginning stages of running or you’re a veteran, you will always need to have a training plan going into these races. However, not all plans are equal and you’ll need to consider a few items before choosing a training plan.
Ideally, you want to have a plan tailored to you. When you’re training for a race, a lot goes into consideration. Your eating habits, your work schedule, and family commitments can have an affect with your training. Working with a coach who knows this information and can build your training with your goals in mind is the best. If you’re not up to using a coach, here’s a few of my tips for choosing a training plan.
Understand Your Limitations
If you are pressed for time during the week, I would stay away from plans that have you running long runs in the middle of the week. You can opt to break a 10 mile run into a morning and evening run but this may not work for you after a long day at work.
In the same boat, if you choose a plan that has you running six days a week but you’ve never done that before, now is not the time to start. By pushing your body to fit an arbitrary training plan, you can run the risk of injury. Choose a plan that will fit with your lifestyle.
What’s Your Activity Level?
Are you a regular at the local spin or yoga studio? Is weight lifting part of your regular routine? Understanding your activity level and what you are striving for is a huge factor is choosing a training plan. By increasing your miles, you may have to decrease the amount of other activity you are doing. You may be able to incorporate other workouts into your training plan but you’ll need to choose a plan that offers flexibility.
What’s Your Main Goal?
There’s many free plans on line for all types of race distances. However, you may not need the same plan that I would. If this is your first long distance race, your training plan should be different than that of someone who is trying to beat their personal record. Take a look at how the plan is structured. If you’re chasing speed, then you’ll need at least one day of tempo runs or speed work. If you’re just focused on finishing, I wouldn’t focus on speed work.
One good resource I like to use for training plans is the Hal Higdon Website. There you will find multiple plans for different race distances and goals in mind. I would recommend taking one plan and tweak it to fit your lifestyle.
Have you used an online training plan before?