Here are some useful tips from Jeff Galloway on the importance of having a training plan.
THE TRAINING PLAN
- WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN? When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation. Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual, tend to improve more, with less injury risk.
- WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice. This leads to confusion and more aches and pains. The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.
- KEY TRAINING ELEMENTS:
1) A longer run builds endurance,
2) A hilly run builds strength,
3) Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more.
WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER? The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal. Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts. To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual.
- EVERY OTHER DAY! Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day. This allows for the “weak links” to heal. The very slow long run is usually on the weekend, when there is more time available. Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example, Tuesday and Thursday)
- SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don’t have to exert yourself on non running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat. So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking.DOES VARIETY HELP? Changing things a bit can improve motivation. You don’t have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.
- WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit. Hill runs build strength. Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form. Long runs produce stamina and endurance.
- WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS? Take it easy on these days. Do little or no exercise, don’t over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.
- SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY. Not Recommended! It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves. While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.
- IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation. Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience more burnout and injury.
When I first started running, I ran by “feel”, not having an actual plan in place. While this allowed me to finish a race, I wasn’t finishing strong and caused a lot of injury to my body (ankle sprains, continuous IT band issues). Having a training plan along with a running coach, I lowered my half marathon time from 3:04 to 2:37 and I’m feeling much stronger every day. I’m currently training for the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November.
Do you run with a training plan?