How To Create Your Own Running Program

The simple fact is, a good running program should be developed around your own running goals and preferences. For example, a beginner runner to trains to lose weight will have a much different running approach than an elite athlete training for their next personal best. Your personalised running program should take into account:

  1. Fitness level
  2. Personality
  3. Personal preferences
  4. Training background and history
  5. Schedule
  6. Short- term running goals
  7. Long- term running goals
  8. Ultimate fitness objective

STEP 1 – Assess Your Fitness and Health

You need to address your fitness levels, needs and personal needs. You would also need to know what you are good at and what needs improving. Since you are doing this for you – YOU can sit yourself down and ask yourself if you are out of shape, have chronic injuries, aches or pains, high blood pressure and within a healthy weight range? If you do have any of these then you should ALWAYS check with a certified physician before getting started, never ignore it. If you are completely OK with all of these then great – onto the next step.

STEP 2 – Assess Your Time/ Schedule 

You will need to assess your schedule, calendar and time. Pull out your calendar and answer these questions and assess the weeks and months ahead of you. How many days a week do you want to exercise? How may hours per week you’re willing to exercise? Which specific days of the week work best? When can you start? Where will you run? Schedule your runs choosing the 3-5 days per week in which you’ll train, and on the off days try doing other (cross training) activities such as walking, yoga, foam rolling etc. Keep in mind consistency is key in creating a successful running program.

STEP 3 – Set The Right Goals 

Set clear and well defined goals and everything will fall into it’s place. The specific elements of your training program depend on your ultimate training purpose. Some questions to consider are – What are your ultimate fitness goal/goals? Why do you want to start running? What do you want from running? What are long/ short term running and fitness goals? As a rule of thumb your goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, set within a time limit, challenging yet, realistic). It can even be as simple as setting a goal such as , “be able to run for 45 minutes non stop”.

STEP 4 – Choose The Workouts 

In general aim for 3-4 hours of total running time per week, ideally at least 3-4 separate sessions. This will of course, will vary depending on your running goals and fitness levels. On the off days you can choose to cross train or rest. Incorporate in plenty of different types of runs of different distances and training paces. Variety will help you reach your full running potential. Different running workouts include: easy runs, recovery run, interval repeats, ladder runs, pyramid runs, progression runs, tempo runs, fartlek runs, hill reps, strides and long runs.

For Cross training days pick 3 days of active recovery. During these rest or cross training days keeping your body moving without putting too much pressure on it can help build the habit of daily exercises in your life while further improving your aerobic conditioning and muscular strength. Some examples of cross training sessions are: walking, swimming, spinning, yoga, rowing, Pilates and foam rolling.

STEP 5 – Choose A Weekly Workout Template

Intermediate training template (ONLY EXAMPLE)

Monday: 45 – 60 min asy effort running

Tuesday: 45-60 min Cross training

Wednesday: 8 X 400m @ 85% max effort

Thursday: 30-45 min Cross training

Friday: 30-45 min Fartlek running

Saturday: 75-90 min long run at a conversational pace

Sunday: Rest day

Create your own according to your schedule and think harder runs such as intervals, hill reps, and long runs with easy paced recovery workouts that are neither intense nor long. A written plan may hold your accountable ad help you stay on track. Grab a journal and jot down the days of the week along the side, then decide on what to do each day: run, cross train or rest. Write down everything running and exercise related so that you can compare yourself against a previous benchmark. Any questions ask your RIM PT!

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