Running is one of the best exercises that you can do for overall body conditioning and optimum health. Designing your own running program can help you tailor a program that works just for you and your goals. If you'd like to find out how to design your own running program, read the tips below.
One of the best things you can do when building your own running program is to understand the need for variation. Having a selection of different types of runs in your program will help keep your routine interesting and will also allow you to experience full-body conditioning by stimulating different areas of the body on different days.
First, figure out how many days per week you want to run. Be sure to factor in any other exercise that you’ve incorporated into your week, like weight lifting, or any team sports you might play. If you’re strictly a runner, you’re going to have a program that’s completely different than someone who has a strict strength training regimen, so don’t just adopt another person’s routine. Tailor one specifically for you and your week. Once you’ve figured in your other exercise, you can incorporate running days into the whole exercise package. Plan on having at least one long run workout, one speed workout, and one tempo run for each week. This minimum would be perfect for someone who’s active during the rest of the week as well. If you’re not as active the rest of the week, you’ll probably want to add additional run days.
Once you have a schedule in mind, set up your long run first. Long runs are great for anyone training for a long-distance event. The long run part of your program is great for building endurance in general, but if you’re training for a long-distance run, this will be the most important part of your weekly routine. You’ll be pushing your body to its limits to see how far you can go, and your goal should be increasing your stamina and duration by at least 10% each week. You want to improve incrementally because if you push your body too hard, you’ll suffer setbacks that will mess up your entire week. Make sure that after every long run, you have a day of rest. If you feel like you have to do something, do an easy run.
Next, you’re going to set up your speed run. You can divide your program by three types of speed workouts: fartlek training, strides, and interval training. Fartlek, or “speed play” training, is made up of different periods of faster paced running. Interval runs are faster runs set to specific durations. With strides, you first run sprints at an 800 to 1500 meter pace before settling into an easy 30-minute run. You should have one stride a week in your running plan. If your schedule is tight, have one session where you have a stride in front of an easy run. Use a fartlek or interval training for one other speed session. With the long run, you’ll have three good workouts for the week. If you do have time, do the fartlek and the interval training sessions as well as the stride workout one or two times a week so that you’re left with a four or five day running schedule.
While the aim of a running program is to build endurance and strength, you don’t want to push yourself to the point of injury. Monitor yourself daily, and cut back a little if you find yourself ending up extremely fatigued after a run. You can always add more runs back in once your body gets the proper conditioning.