In Introduction we considered the essential purposes of a training programme. Now, how do we translate that into a schedule? 

What's Essential in a Training Schedule?

  • Long runs
  • Hard sessions (!) e.g. tempo, intervals
  • Strength runs e.g. hill reps, beach, mud, fell running
  • Strength training for core, arms etc. Pilates, circuit training & weights
  • Active recovery - stretches, balance activities and a gentle run. Maybe yoga.
  • Passive recovery - REST!

Exactly what you do in each session depends upon your personal aims and a quick online search will provide a selection of training programmes specific to your distance and pace goals. If you are in a running club, talk to one of the coaches who may design a programme specifically for you; if you are not in a running club, think about joining one. 

Develop Good Habits

Maintaining and improving your performance will require fitting running and non-running essentials into your already busy life. You'll need to work out which time of day is best for you to regularly spend 30 - 60+ minutes exercising. Unfortunately this may not be the time of day when your body is most ready for activity. Research suggests that people stick with exercise programmes if they slot them into the early morning, getting up even earlier than usual. You'll need to become disciplined with both yourself and those who make demands of your time.

  • Allocate some time to your health/fitness development every single day.
  • Schedule your fitness time into a calendar. Even if it's a rest day log "rest".
  • Keep a training log.
  • Whatever your work, you are supposed to take reasonable breaks and exercise makes you a healthier, happier, more capable employee. If possible, on any shared e-calendars, block out a regular lunch or end-of-day slot. 
  • Maybe start a lunch-time or end-of-day running club with colleagues - you'll get to know people in a different light, alleviate stress, build camaraderie and better accommodate your training programme. 
  • Get your family or house-mates on-board. Small children can be very good at rolling out parental tight calves and spouses rather welcome the changing mood (& perhaps body) that regular exercise brings. Following a birthday gift of a digital SLR camera, my husband became more important to my running club than me - he takes photos of events and uploads them for club members. One of his most treasured possessions is a hoody emblazoned "Fife AC Photographer". Although, as he started to run too, we share the role nowadays. There isn't a choice between family and running time - find ways to bring these together.
  • Invest in decent running kit for wet, windy &/or cold conditions. Running can give a very positive appreciation for the changing seasons, but you need the right clothing.
  • Gradually build a mini-gym (weights, resistance bands etc) so you can fit strength, balance and flexibility training into gaps in your daily routine. 

A 30min TV programme is an excellent chance to stretch, lunge, use a balance ball or roll out tightness with the dreaded foam torture device. Work towards strength, balance and flexibility need not eat into time for life's varied commitments and pleasure, but you'll need to develop good habits. Keep your resistance bands and weights beside the sofa; try a few mins of yoga or Pilates last thing before retiring to bed. Take an occasional stretch/core strength class so an instructor can teach/remind you how to perform key exercises correctly.     

Although people may begin to look at you strangely, incorporate fundamentals like balance training into snatched minutes of your daily life e.g. stand on one leg whilst brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil. The quad and Achilles stretches shown are perfect to fit in those random moments.  

Eccentric stretches of the Achilles also work on the calf and can aid balance. Any small step or incline provides an opportunity to stretch the calf whilst being supported.

Eccentric stretches of the Achilles also work on the calf and can aid balance. Any small step or incline provides an opportunity to stretch the calf whilst being supported.

Quad stretches give a chance to work on balance as well as tightness.

Quad stretches give a chance to work on balance as well as tightness.