I ran my first 5k in May of 2015. It was the first race in my self-imposed challenge of running 12 5ks in 12 months (I ended up with 13 5ks in 14 months. Hooray). It was during this time that I learned the importance of not only showing up ready to race, but preparing for the race by having a regimented training plan.
Especially if you are running your first race, you should have a plan of attack when it comes to preparing. This guide will help you come up with a workable training plan that fits into your life.
1. Research Existing Plans
There are a plethora of sample training plans on Pintrest, which makes it an excellent place to get an idea of how a training plan should look based on number of weeks, type of race, and how many days a week you would like to run. Use these examples as your starting point and build a personal plan around them. When I plan for 5ks, I usually have my plans last about six weeks and I set out to run three days a week. These numbers will vary depending on how much you want to push yourself and what type of race you’re running.
2. Look at Your Calendar
After you’ve decided the structure of your plan, it’s important to look at your calendar during that timeline. Are there any holidays or birthdays during this time? Do you have any travel plans? Are there any foreseeable obstacles in your schedule? It’s important to plan around these events. If you know that there is no way that you’ll be able to run on your husband’s birthday, then plan that day as a rest day or a light workout day. Also look if there are days of the week that are particularly busy for you and plan your workout accordingly. This will save you from disaster as you go through your training plan.
3. Create Training Plan
There are three parts to a training plan: running days, rest days, and cross-train days. Running days are days you run. I usually mark how many miles or minutes I want to run on a particular day. This usually gets longer as the plan goes on. Rest days are days you rest. This is a really important part of training and allows your body to recuperate. Cross-train days are the days that you don’t run, but you still workout. This can include a lot of different workouts. Weight training, biking, swimming, yoga, or any number of physical activities can be scheduled on cross-train days.
At the end, you should have a clear map of what is expected each week during your training. You can schedule as tightly or as loosely as you are comfortable with, just make sure that the plan gives you room to succeed.
4. Don’t Get Discouraged by Missed Days
Remember as you’re training, you can change the plan as you see fit. You can move workouts around; you can miss workouts. The important thing is keeping the plan going. If you miss a day, pick up where you left off or reschedule a rest day to make up for a day you missed. As long as you keep moving forward, you are making progress.
Below, I have a picture of my training schedule for the 5k I’m running in December. I made it while I made this post! If you want to keep up with me and my runs, I have a Runkeeper account. Otherwise, please tell me how your training plans go or if you have any pointers!