The new year is a great time to dive into some fresh training, whether you’re a seasoned ultra-racer or beginner lacing up your shoes for the first time.
To help you along your way, we’ve put together a 12-week plan that will serve as a guide to meet your goals, whatever they may be.
Most importantly, these plans should be taken as a guide rather than gospel. Whilst we have tried our hardest to make them as effective as possible, it may be that you need to change some things around, particularly fitting around other commitments. Don’t be afraid to take a rest day or swap a session – we won’t be offended, honest!
Speaking of adapting the plan, be flexible. Particularly for new runners, you may find it takes more time to get used to things, and you may not be ready to jump into longer runs or faster sessions. Take it at your own pace – it is better to feel comfortable, enjoy it and be injury-free than to go too hard too soon and have to take time out to recoup.
The plan tries to incorporate a variety of efforts in training, from easy runs to fast hills to long runs. We believe it is important to develop on all fronts to become an ‘all-round runner.’ By doing so, it means that you’re more ready for any challenges that might be thrown at you in races and training, as well as increasing your enjoyment. Mix things up further by changing your terrain. Take some easy days on the trails, do some stuff on the roads, even hit the treadmill or the track! It’s entirely up to you!
Supplementation is important. Running a lot is all well and good, but this can increase your injury risk. Build in a strength and conditioning session and/or rehab time to reduce this risk. All of these plans incorporate rest days into each week and these are good mental rests as well as physical ones. That said, don’t shy away from ‘active recovery’ – such as walks – on these rest days.
Starting out in running, or adding sessions to your easy running, can seem confusing. The following 12-week schedule provides a routine of easy running, longer efforts and some intervals to build fitness, maintain variety and teach the principles of different running training. Feel free to mix around the rest days to suit your personal schedules and if in doubt, take it at your own pace. If you feel that you need another week or so to get used to running, then don’t be afraid to put off the sessions or drop the distance a little. Equally, if you get to the end of the 12 weeks feeling great, then use the same programme and just add a little more. A general strength session will go a long way to your general fitness and running economy. Try a regular 10 minute session, broken into 30 seconds intervals of your favourite exercises without a break between.
NOTE: if you’re not familiar with ‘strides’, as featured below, these are essentially easy, relaxed run-throughs concentrating on form rather than speed, generally over about 60 metres.