Becoming a Runner Step 2: Finding a Schedule that Works

Want to tackle a half marathon, 10K, or even a full marathon in 2016? You’ve probably spent some time trying to find a method to help you accomplish that goal. Or perhaps you haven’t! Either way, I’m here to try to help take some of the guesswork out of that process, so you can get to running!

The longer I have been running consistently, the more I realize that running works for me because I’ve found a schedule that fits my lifestyle. When I was training for a marathon, I was running at least four days a week, and I did not have much time for anything else at a certain point. It was worth the commitment to accomplish my goal, but that rigorous workout schedule was one that I knew I couldn’t sustain for years and years.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the right distance and schedule for you.

What are my goals? Are they realistic?

If your goal is to go from 0 miles to a marathon runner in 3 months, that’s probably not realistic. However, maybe 0 to 6 miles is possible! Basically, the longer the distance you want to run, the more time you need. If you are starting from zero and want to run a marathon, give yourself a year (or two!). If you want to run a 10k, then that might be possible in 2 months. Just set your goal, and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish it. When I started running, one practical way I figured out how much time I needed was by finding the longest training schedule I could find, and giving myself an extra month in case I end up facing injury (I did this for the half and full marathon).

How often do I want to run?

There are many variations of training schedules for just about any distance. Are you super busy, like me? 5 days a week of running is probably not going to work for you! You’ll run a little longer/more miles each day if you run 3 days a week, but you won’t have to go to the gym nearly as often. If you work out every morning before work, then 5 days a week might work a lot better for you. Just find a balance that fits your current schedule.

Do I want to incorporate other activities?

If you do, it might be wise to pick a 4 day a week plan and incorporate 1 day of cross training, like a class, in place of a shorter run (3 days running, 1 day CT). Regardless of whether you want to incorporate a cross training option, or not, I would definitely make sure you are lifting weights some time during your training, so that all of your muscle groups stay strong.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the a schedule that works for you:

Runner’s World

Hal Higdon

Competitor.com

Cool Running

Jeff Galloway

Women’s Running

Most of these resources should have free options available. I have used Hal Higdon’s several times and really like his plans. Keep in mind that all of these websites (and individual plan authors) will have different philosophies on what works best. Jeff Galloway, for example, is built around the idea that taking walk breaks can help prevent injury and burnout. With any plan that sounds like a fit for you, try to steer clear of plans that have mileage increases of more than 10% each week. 10% is not a scientific number, but for most people, this number strikes the balance of  increasing mileage while building cardio endurance, without causing too much stress on the body too soon.

What kind of running regimen works for you?

Cheers to another year of great running!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

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