Training is the biggest key to achieving any goals in life. Especially with running, the more often you do something, the easier it will become. I’m not here to say running 70-80 miles a week is the way to improve. But being consistent with your training is the best way to improve and achieve the goal you would like.
It’ll make the whole Fort 4 Fitness experience enjoyable, reduce your chance of becoming injured/how sore you are after F4F, and improve your overall fitness leading up to the race.
Where do I start?
For someone who is just taking up running, I would suggest starting with a run/walk program at first (for example: run for 2 minutes / walk for 3 minutes / repeating this cycle for 20-25 mins), then progressing into a running plan. This way if you not able to run the entire time that your schedule had down, you won’t be too discouraged to continue with the plan. Maybe even join a Couch to 5k group in the local community, where you won’t be the only person trying to achieve this goal.
For the recreational runner, I would start with your normal plan of running weekly. I would work to running at least 3-4 or maybe even 4-5 days per week, if not already doing that. Joining a running group throughout the week can help you keep your training on track.
For the more experienced runners, getting up to running at least 4-5 days a week will help with your chances of improving you best time or help you finish the race of a longer distance for the first time. Hiring a personal run coach may be beneficial if you have some specific goals in mind.
Talk with friends, co-workers, running friends, or come in for advice at TRRC. All these things can help you have an enjoyable F4F experience. Remember everyone is different and you’ll have to find out and experiment what works for you and your body.
How long should my training be?
Most plans are going to range from 10-12 weeks, increasing the mileage mostly on the long run day to make sure you’ll be in good shape leading up to your race at F4F. Depending on your experience, most people will shoot for making it up to 75% of the race distance they will be running (for example: 3 miles if doing the 4 mile, 4.5 miles if doing the 10k or 10 miles if doing the half-marathon.) Some experienced runners, will surpass the distance of training in their long runs by a few miles so they can proceed to incorporate workouts into the longer runs.
How hard should I train?
This is where I feel most people mess up by running too hard on an everyday basis. There are some pace calculators out on the internet that you can type in some of your best times (probably within the last year or so), which will give you a better indication of how hard you should be running, especially on your easier days. You will have ups and downs throughout your training plan.
A good day of running should sometimes feel effortless, even if your pace is slower. An easy way to see if you may be pushing yourself a little too hard every day, check your sleeping pattern, resting heart rate when you wake, if you see a big change in these that could be a sign of overtraining.
An everyday way to check is take your heart rate after each run, this heart rate range should be anywhere from 60-80% of your maximum heart rate (example: someone 30 yr old, should have a heart rate of about 133-152 ((220-30) *.60 -.80) on an easy day of running). This number will vary the better shape you get in.
Should I do workouts?
For beginners, I wouldn’t worry about this portion as much. It’ll complicate things with your training. If you wanted to run a few miles hard on one day a week that’d be my best advice. I’m not saying go 100% for the entire run, save that for the actual race day.
More experienced runners, can sprinkle in 1-2 days of harder effort runs. Maybe alternate each week running a little quicker on your long runs. Setting one day of the week to do a specific workout (fartlek, tempo or progressive run). Don’t feel the need to do a workout if you have it on the schedule. Be flexible and let your body tell you when you should do a workout. Again, everyone is different and you’ll figure out which workouts you enjoy and get you motivated.
All in all, training and racing should be enjoyable but challenging experiences for you. Often it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out what training works best for each individual.