{Running for Newbies} Distance Running– Planning 101

 Happy Easter Weekend, Friends!

Since it’s my birthday (and I have homework to do), I’m taking the day “off” with an awesome guest post to kick off my Running for Newbies series (unofficially Running for Dummies…because this might be copyrighted and I don’t want everyone to feel like a dummy for reading it).

I am training for my first ever half-marathon May 20th and am super nervous and super excited!  I know I could learn more about running and even if you’ve been running awhile, you never really know it all.

So get ready for some detailed planning talk from Adam over at Think, Plan, Run!  It is a fairly long post, so if you don’t have time to read right now, please bookmark and come back!  :-)


Distance Running — Planning 101
Hello Semi-Health-Nut gurus!!! I’m honored to share a bit on Amanda’s blog and hope it is something of value towards building up the fitness and health community. 
Before you lace up your shoes and say good-bye to your family for six hours while you pound out your daily ultra-marathon training run you must realize your body has limits. 
After all, we actually tear our bodies down when we run and actually gain our fitness when we REST – so we should all just sleep all day and night to become fit, right?
Wrong.  It’s a balancing act as you constantly tear down your body to build and recover it stronger than before.   
Your body is also incredibly adaptable.  So, how do you get the most out of your training, gain fitness, adapt to new stimuli, peak for high performance, and stay within your limits to avoid injury? 
Before any running takes place, a strategic plan should be developed and tracked.  Most of us are not professional athletes we balance a full time job, family life, and aren’t sponsored to run twice a day and nap.  We must be effective and get the most bang for our buck when training on limited time.   
 Below are my heavy-hitting requirements to every plan I build for myself and my athletes regardless of ability.

Phasing – Macro Cycles
There are different skill sets required when racing different differences.  All require a strong aerobic base and some speed but the dominant skill set will be different for different racing distances.   
For example, training to race a marathon is almost purely aerobic training and the ability to burn fuel efficiently whereas 5km training requires more VO2 max and anaerobic fitness. 
Somewhere in the middle, training for a half marathon or 10km is more dependent upon your anaerobic threshold and stamina.  I like to stress the most important (or simulate the peak race requirements) later as the peak performance race is approaching.  You are adapting your body and teaching it what it means to run with those skills right up until the race and exercising the less important systems earlier. 
For example, during 10km – half marathon training, I’ll build a strong base, then work in a 3-4 week V02 Max phase (5k-10k tune up races are great here) before getting into the more important strength/stamina phase leading into the taper and peak performance.    
These large 3-6 week long phases of emphasizing a certain skill set are macro cycles. 
Micro Cycles
Within each macro cycle, there will be many micro cycles – usually viewed as a single week (although some train off of a 10 day cycle, 9 day cycle, 5 day cycle, etc.). 
Within these micro cycles there are really only probably 2-3 quality days which are really going to intentionally stress your body – the rest being aerobic development and recovery through easy running.  Planning out your micro cycles is essential in staying injury free and letting your key workouts ultimately build you up rather than tear you down. 
For example, if you have 3 quality days for a given week to be a 4 mile tempo run, 6x800m intervals on the track, and a 14 mile long run – running each of these on consecutive days (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) would be counterproductive as you’re not allowing your body to recovery from the elevated stress of these quality days. 
Spreading them throughout the week and sprinkling in rest, easy running, and/or cross training will give you the most bang for your buck on the hard work you put in on the quality days. 
Phasing is very important as it gives you a clear picture of the work that needs to be done but also makes time for rest and recovery.  Some self-motivated athletes need to be forced to rest … others need to be pushed out the door  … phasing gives you the overall macro and micro cycle perspective about what is intentionally being accomplished and when to rest.
It’s a fact – you probably won’t be able to follow a full 6 month plan (or even just your current week) day for day … things come up – work travel, family issues, sickness, etc. 
Every plan must have room to be flexible and shuffle things around time to time.  Having weekly mileage RANGES are really good so you can flex your recovery days as you feel. 
If you feel like absolute crap one day – you might be having an off day without loss of fitness, but your body is telling you that it needs recovery – running 4 easy miles rather than grinding out 8 just because of a number on a plan that was devised weeks ago is much smarter. 
Your plan and mileage should help direct you towards what your body needs, not dictate everything…. crunching miles should always take a back seat to listening to your body.  Besides, sometimes when you listen to your body, it wants more…. that’s when it gets fun!!
Thank you for letting me geek-out and expand on something I love to do – talk about running and fitness.  I’m excited to know what you think and am available through my site, Twitter (@thinkplanrun) and Facebook – give me a shout and let me know any questions or insight you’ve experienced when thinking, planning, and running!
{Short Bio About Adam}
Working husband, dad, 2:27 marathoner, blogger, USATF certified online coach, and founder of Think Plan Run. I love to be outdoors with my family and enjoy the rewarding yet painful journey of distance running… Check out more at www.thinkplanrun.com


I really want to run right now but it’s 40 degrees out!  I might have to wait till later this afternoon…what weird spring weather right?

Have a great Easter weekend friends!  I hope we can all take time to remember the reason for the season.  Jesus is alive!!

*~Amanda aka Semi-Health Nut~*

Are you training for a race?  Tell me about it!

Are there any struggles that you are facing in your running currently?

You can also check out my Running page for more running posts and my Training Schedule to see how I’m doing!  I’m also on Dailymile, so if you are too, friend me! :-)


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