So you’ve committed to trying to run 1000 miles this year. If you simply head out of the door and run 2.74 miles every day, you’ll get there. However, for most of you, forming a training schedule will not be quite as simple as getting out your calculator to divide 1000 by 365.
Why? For one thing, if you’re starting from scratch or increasing your mileage, you need to do so in a way that limits the potential for injury. Further, even if reaching that sort of mileage ought not be a problem for you, you are likely running to try to achieve more than simply reaching a numerical target.
You will often find set training schedules in the pages of Trail Running and elsewhere, and there is nothing wrong with following these if they suit you. However, devising your own training schedule really isn’t rocket science and it can also allow you greater flexibility.
You can’t go far wrong with following an off-the-shelf training schedule. However, just like a made-to-measure suit will look better on you than an off-the-rail one, a bespoke mileage plan is better. It will take into account your background and your life commitments. And some knowledge of the basic principles will allow you to adjust your schedule to account for changes in your life.
It’s the wanting to improve our performance or the enjoyment that means we don’t just simply run 2.74 miles every day. Running longer some days and shorter others means we get to improve endurance while also recovering. We might also like to make one run a week longer than the others to make it worthwhile travelling somewhere new to enjoy different surroundings.
So here are a few golden rules to bear in mind when it comes to planning your #Run1000Miles assault in 2022. You can do it!
If you’re a complete beginner, running 1000 miles this year will seem like a long way to go, but it’s not impossible. You will probably be well behind schedule for the first few months and playing catch-up for most of the rest of it... but don’t panic.
Your first goal should be to get used to the act of running and become more efficient at breathing. Start off with a mile if that’s all you can manage, and intersperse running with walking if you need to; don’t put yourself down if you have to do this. Breaking into walks may maintain your heart rate sufficiently high to benefit you. It’s all about extending the overall volume of training gradually.
One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is thinking every run has to be all-out. Save that for race day. The goal when starting out should be to increase the time on your feet.
Those with a good level of fitness, perhaps from other activities, may find they can string a few miles together from the start. But go steady – your lungs might be up to it but your joints and muscles could take longer to get used to the new action.
As a beginner, aim to run every other day to allow ample time for recovery.
Whether a complete beginner or not, make sure you don’t increase your overall mileage by more than 10% per week and don’t increase by 10% every week. It’s a good idea to take a “drop-down” week every fourth one.
An appropriate weekly mileage progression, possibly including walking too, for a newbie could be 6-6-7-7-8-9-9-10-11-12-11-13-14-15-12-16-17-18-15-20-22-24-20. That would take you into June with still 700 miles to go, but you’ve built up to a good volume and only need around 24 miles per week from then on to hit the target.
We all have different levels of fitness so, if you don’t hit the target or you have to include walking in the target, don’t worry. We’re more excited to welcome new runners with much-improved fitness than those who meet some arbitrary figure. #Run1000Miles is a great incentivisor but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
Add a long run
Aim to make one run per week 20-30% of your overall mileage. By the time you get to 20 miles per week, you might be running four or five days, so that could mean 3.5+3.5+3.5+3.5+6. Typically, this could mean you’ll be keeping most runs the same lengths for a few weeks while you increase that one longer run.
This is by no means essential to reaching the #Run1000Miles target but, if you want to expedite your fitness improvement and maybe even do some racing, it’s an idea to introduce some faster-paced running after a couple of months. To start off, on one run per week, run a bit faster for 30-60 seconds between lampposts or trees with a few minutes’ recovery.
Allow at least 10 minutes of easy running at the start and end of each speedwork session.
Progressing from that, a typical, more structured speed session would be: 3x5mins at your estimated 10km race pace with two minutes of easy running in between each. If you don’t know what your 10km pace is, the idea is that the pace would be as fast as you can maintain over all three reps – it may take a few sessions to judge this correctly. Repetitions of 3-5mins of faster running will improve your VO2 max. Recovery from each should be around half the rep duration.
Other sessions could aim to target your top-end speed. For example, run 8-10 x one minute flat-out with one minute between each one.
Another key session is known as lactate threshold or tempo training. This is about the maximum pace you could run for an hour – comfortably hard – and you would do this for 20-30 minutes.
After every speed session or long run, allow at least one day of easy running or a rest day. Easy running is the sort of pace at which you can carry on a conversation.
If you’re just doing one speed session per week, allow a few days between that and your long run.
An experienced runner who is running six or seven days per week could do two speed sessions and one long run with rest or easy days in between.
Above all, it is vital that you enjoy the journey! Don’t get too hung up on reaching targets and sticking to a schedule that you forget trail running is all about enjoyment.