Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Thinking About Training Programs for 2015

I'm in Ballarat with my family for Christmas Eve - it's the best part of Christmas time for me!

It's also that time of year where we start thinking about the coming year, and what we want it to bring.  And for runners, that means thinking about your 2015 races and training programs!

At the moment I have a general idea of at least the key races I want to run  - July and October - and the challenge for me is to figure out a training program that keeps me interested all through the season, but also minimises the chance of injury and burn out.

The right training program for you is based on your own goals, experiences, body and lifestyle.  There is no one fits all training program, so don't be afraid to own yours, and do what works for you!

I went on the hunt for some training program inspiration, and found a bunch of resources that you might also find useful.

Training Program Resources

Online training program websites

There are stacks of websites out there with training programs in them, for all different distances.  Some of the ones I have looked at before include:

Race websites

If you have specific races in mind, and they are reasonably large races, you can usually find training programs for their different distances on the website, and even regular running groups leading up to the race.  I've used a couple of these programs to prepare for races. I liked that they had programs for beginners, intermediate and advanced runners.  Some local races that have training programs online include:

Running magazines and books

As much as I appreciate the internet as a resource, I also like buts of paper to refer to.  I subscribe to the Runner's World magazine, which releases training programs now and then.  You could also check out Women's Running.  I've also had a look at Running Times now and then.

Books are a great reference.  I love reading books about runners, and especially when they combine discussion about their training with their personal thoughts and views on running.  The mind of a runner is a unique and intriguing thing!  Some books I turn to for guidance and inspiration include:

Ask other runners


Other runners (and bloggers!) are always willing to have a chat about training, and to share their experiences.  In fact, I know that I can get a bit excited when I start talking about running and exercise, and people make excuses to walk away quickly.  Again, it is up to you to decide what is going to work for your body and your life, but you can get some great ideas about different ways to train.  But don't compare yourself to other runners either - you are doing an awesome job making running a regular part of your life, and other people have different lives and running histories.  Be proud of yourself, but also ask for help if you need it!

My Program Considerations

Finding a bunch of training programs online is great, but how do you make them work in your life?  There are a few things I consider when I'm planning my running program, because in the end, it has to work for me, or else it's just not worth it!

How much time do I want to (can I!) commit to my training?

You need to be realistic about how much time you want and can commit to your running, and other exercise pursuits.  We have busy lives, and we are not going to stick with a program that asks for too much, or results in sacrificing other important aspects of your life, like work and family.

I realistically think I can commit around an hour each day, six days a week, but only if I do my training early in the morning - the evenings can just throw up too many life obstacles that can derail my training plans.

When you decide on your runs, treat them like another appointment that you can't break. You wouldn't skip a run with a friend, so give yourself the same courtesy, and don't skip a run (or other workout) with yourself.

What are my goals?

I find it good to be specific about my goals for the year, running or otherwise.  I have a variety of goals, from running certain races (the half marathons at Run Melbourne and Melbourne Marathon), to running certain times (I'd love to do a sub 1:40 half this year!), to fitting in other workouts (I really want to keep up my weights training this year).  If you are working towards a specific goal, it makes it easier to make your training sessions a priority in your life.

What is my starting point?

It is really important to be real about where you are starting your training from.  I've had a tough year with a knee injury, and I know I'm still building my distance back up - compared to where I was this time last year.  So I'm going to be realistic about how long my long runs will be, how fast my speed training will be, and how frequently I should run.  I am aiming for three running sessions and three weights sessions each week.

Don't get injured

If you want to run in a race, you have to make sure that your body gets you there.  Listen to your body as you go through your training, and make sure you spend time managing aches and pains, whether that's quality time with your foam roller, regular massages, or making sure you include stretching and yoga into your week.  If you feel the beginning of an injury, get it treated, and rest if you need to.  Your body has to get you through many more years yet (hopefully running!), so it is better in the long run to be kind to it.

Mix it up

I'll be honest - until this year I didn't really believe cross training was worth it.  Running was where it was at, so I'd just keep running.  But then I got injured, and I started doing weight training and other cross training like spin classes to keep my fitness up.  I'm loving weight training, and I truly believe I've got a stronger body because of it, which will keep me fit and healthy for my running.  Alternating between weights and running also gives my body a rest day from each, so I feel fresh and rearing to go by the next training session.  So find a way to mix up your training - whether its running inside and outside, in groups or alone, or doing different cardio and strength training, and it will keep you running longer.

What do you think about when you set your training program for the year / a race?  What resources do you use to make a great training plan?

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