Creating a Running Plan to Conquer Your Training Strategy

You might be asking yourself do I need a running plan? Will it make any difference? Well, it really depends on what your aim is and what you want to achieve.

Running is one of those activities that can simply be enjoyed for what it is. Just get out and run. No planning. No overthinking. As a certain sports wear brand says, just do it.

But, and this is a big but, when you are training to run an event you have to have at least some kind of a running plan in place to get the best out of yourself.

Now you might be saying, “but I only want to do this run for fun” and that’s great, but you should still approach your training with at least some kind of plan as to how you’re going to do it.

And the best advice I can give is WRITE IT DOWN.

That way you know EXACTLY where you are and what you’re aiming for on any particular day. Whether this is a certain number of miles, building on a time, hitting the gym for some cross training or strength work, or even a glorious rest day.

In a moment below I am going to share my current running plan for tackling the Great North Run with you. This will give you a start as to how to plan your own training. I will even include a blank template for you to download, so you can fill in with your own training goals.

Training with an end goal in sight

running plan to maximise your training

You can see from my own running plan above that I sometimes like to give myself a couple of options on certain days. This is because I sometimes struggle with my Crohn’s Disease and like to give myself an easier time if I need it. Having this built into my training plan allows me to do this without feeling like I’m missing out or falling behind on training I should be doing.

Most of the plan is self-explanatory, with rest days and a certain number of miles to complete during each run session.

Adding strength training to your running plan

I also have a day to do strength training in the gym. For this, I usually stick to working the upper body set of muscle groups and try and do mostly compound lifts. Compound lifts work by engaging more than one joint or muscle group (the other type of lifts are isolation movements, which as you’ve probably guessed, only involve one joint or muscle group).

I prefer to use compound movements as I’m not in the gym lifting weights every day, so when I am it is better for me to work on several muscle groups with a single exercise. This maximises what I can achieve from each strength building session.

Now I’m more than aware that one weight lifting session a week isn’t going to do a great deal in the grand scheme of things. But what it does do is allow me to do some exercise that isn’t purely running (which is good and all, but a change is as good as a rest). Plus when I’m not training for an event I tend to spend a bit more time in the gym.

One more point on the strength training I do; I tend to mainly work the upper body. My legs get enough work from running. This is designed to give them a rest. In no way do I want to risk any kind of extra strain on my leg muscles and risk an injury.

Start small, finish big

You’ll see I start the week with a smaller number of miles and steadily build on this through the week. Sunday brings the big run of the week. This is the reason Monday is always a rest day for me to allow for some significant recovery before I start the running week again on a Tuesday with a smaller run. Building once again to Sundays longer run. Gradually increasing the miles each week.

A goal without a plan is just a wish


What You Should Consider When Developing Your Own Running Plan

You should build your plan around your goal. Build it in a way that you know is manageable for your body.

Plan something you know you have a good chance of sticking to, that challenges you, but isn’t going to force you to completely abandon any and all running.

Make it doable to YOU. Don’t follow someone else’s plan unless you know it fits with your level of running (beginner, intermediate or advanced).

Plan in the rest days you know you’ll need. You have to let your body recover. Especially if you’re only beginning, or running big miles.

Make it fit your schedule

The worst thing you can do is get too carried away and sicken yourself on running altogether. Or worse still risk injury.

Don’t give up, stick with it, if your original running plan just isn’t working for you, don’t sweat it. Refocus. Re-plan. You are by no means stuck with the original plan you’ve devised. If it just isn’t working for you. Rather than give up completely. Adjust your training plan so it starts working the way you want it to. Nothing is set in stone.

I find it’s better to build up my miles as I go through the week culminating in a long run on Sundays. This is when I have the most time to put those big miles in and still feel good.

Fit your training around YOUR schedule. If you work weekends, it’s no good trying to fit in a long run then, it will only leave you tired and stressed trying to squeeze it into the day. Your running week can start and end when you need it to.

It is also advisable in the final week before whatever goal/event your training towards to take it a bit easier. Only do enough miles to keep you limber and focussed on your end goal.

You definitely do not want to risk any kind of strain or injury in the final run up, right when the end is in sight.


Plan your work and work your plan

Sum it all up for me

In short, your running plan should:

  • Challenge, but be achievable.
  • Keep your final goal in mind.
  • Be about You.
  • Plan in the rest days you need.
  • If it’s not working don’t give up, adjust as needed.
  • Build your running week around your own schedule.
  • Ease into a longer run at the end of the week (if it fits your schedule).
  • Don’t overdo it before the big event.
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Don’t forget to download the Running Plan Template to print out and start developing your own 8-week training schedule.



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