How to Select a Training Plan

A house is built from the foundation up not from the roof down.

In our current age of digital information sharing overload, it is possible to find a training plan online for every distance from 100 m to 100 miles. You can download workouts from those of the world’s elite to the marathon plan of a New York housewife. As many of us have come to learn though, the challenge is not lack of information, but knowing how to choose the training plan which is the best for fit for you the individual.

I therefore decide to provide a few pointers that will hopefully help guide you towards finding the best fit for you:

  1. The first few weeks of the plan should very closely match your current training in terms of volume, intensity, number of training days and types of workouts.

2. Does the plan fit into your lifestyle? See what the maximum number of training days and volume the plan builds up to and assess realistically if you will be able to stick to the plan taking your other lifestyle commitments e.g. work, family, travel etc. into consideration.

3. If the training plan includes interval type workouts (track, fartlek, hills etc.), choose a plan that has workouts that your are likely to actually do. For example, most average club runners will never head to a track for a track interval set, but might consider doing some fartlek work.

4. Does the plan include enough recovery? A hard training day should always be followed by one to two easier training days and every few weeks should include a whole week of reduced training.

5. Does the plan include types of workouts that you have never done before? eg. track workouts, hills, very long runs. If it does then check that they progress slowly and allow for you to get used to these new workouts.

6. Is there some variety?

7. Does the plan make time promises? No training plan can guarantee that you will run a certain time just by following that plan. While the plan might specify training paces for that time, these are based on a virtual person. Have a coach help you calculate a realistic goal and then train towards that on a plan designed for your personal training history, ability and lifestyle.

8. Finally – How realistic is it that you will follow the plan? The plan might look very romantic, but if you have to honestly assess your lifestyle, ability and training preferences, will you actually do it? If not, rather find something a little less romantic that you are confident you will be able to stick to.

Hope this helps give some direction! Have more questions? Pop me an email.

Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen

About Coach Kathleen

Coaching since 2004, I have coached both young and old athletes from those achieving provincial and national medals in track, biathlon and cross country to runners running their first ever half marathon or marathon. I am a specialist in youth coaching and my coaching philosophy is to not only help each athlete achieve their best with their athletic talent but to guide each athlete in developing character and transforming their lives beyond the track. As an athlete I have competed at high levels across all the running disciplines, track, road, cross country and trail running as well as internationally in triathlon. I have a personal best of 2 hours 45 min for the marathon and have twice been part of the winning ladies team in the AfricanX trail race. Qualifications IAAF Athletics Lecturer Level 3 Distance Running Coach SAQ Fundamental Movement Certificate Personal Running Performances
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