Running Training Plans – Create Your Own.

24 Jul Running Training Plans – Create Your Own.

One of the common questions I get asked is around…


Running Training Plans


How do you start making one?


What should be in it?


Do we even need to have one?


Now I held a seminar on this exact subject the other week, and I thought putting some key tips here would be useful.


An odd thing to do you might say as we create so many bespoke training plans for our runners and triathletes through our Online Coaching Plans.


BUT – I want you to be able to learn more, and for those that do want to be able to create their own running training plan –  I still want to help.


And for those that really don’t want to create their own and want someone more experienced to do it – then I am right here to help those guys too.


I digress, but here are my 5 key tips for creating your own running training plan:


  • 1. Begin with the END in mind. Begin-with-the-end-in-mind-Training-Plans

Sounds simple, but without an end target how do you know what you want to achieve?

Write down the target event, what time you’d like (even if you have no idea, put one down anyway!) and get as much detail in there as possible.

From this end point, work backwards, a simple example is, say you have a half marathon coming up…

For the experienced runners, your longest run might be around 14-15 miles, and this will come around 4-5 weeks before the big day.

From this point you need to count backwards and see if you have enough weeks to be able to build up safely to this distance.


  • 2. Have a selection of A, B and C goals.

what-are-your-goalsThe A’s (maybe 2-3 per year) should be well spread out and act as big motivators.

The B’s are the stepping stones, maybe for a marathon (the A event) you will have a half marathon or a 20 mile event booked in (B event) as a chance to put some quality miles in and see how well training has been going.

The C’s are the mini events, something where the result doesn’t matter at all, maybe something where you turn up for a social, have a good old chat during and get some running event experience.


  • 3. Set how much time you can (realistically) dedicate each week.

Time to Run Training Plans

One of the reasons for failure during a running training plan is setting out with unrealistic targets.

Saying you could commit to 6 runs per week and during the first week you have only completed 2 by Friday is pretty disheartening.

So plan in advance, look in the diary and make sure that you can stick to what you set out to do.

I work with a lot of runners with families, heavy work commitments (who doesn’t right..!) and finding time to go out and run when you are tired and run down is really hard to do.

This is what makes the difference, those who will commit and get out there knowing that the run will make them feel better (if they approach it correctly) and those who fail at the first hurdle.

It’s all about managing the Chimp correctly…

If you have no idea what I am talking about – check out this book, it’s my all time favourite for dealing with the mental side of running…

The Chimp Paradox… Get it here –

Once you have a good target for the number of runs (or number of hours) you can do per week you can then make a start on part 4…


  • 4. Write in your BLOCKS.

Now blocking is how I personally now look at plans. Say we have 18 weeks until your half marathon.


Assuming you have been running (nothing too specific) in the lead up to this starting point, I would still use the opening 4-6 weeks to gradually improve your fitness and mileage.

In short this is called your Base period. Working on your fitness, popping in some strength work, finding some hills and getting your body ready for the stresses ahead!


The next 4-6 weeks is your Build (Tempo in the image above).

Here we start adding in some speed, getting the body used to running faster, boosting fitness and with half marathon training we are obviously still building up that weekly long run.


Finally the last 4-6 weeks are all about speedwork (intervals) and the last couple of weeks about the event…

Getting used to running at your event pace (race specific speed) and getting comfortable with nutrition/fuelling strategies you’ll be employing on the day.

Certain runners will still be building up their mileage, and some will already be there. but regardless, we want you to KNOW that holding your chosen pace is going to be easy…

(Well, not easy but you understand where I am coming from…)


The final stage is all about the TAPER!

Nope, its not the time to put your feet up. Nor is it the time to be “Carb Loading”.

You should be spending these last few weeks ticking over, dropping down your volume (or mileage) and keeping the intensity (or speed).

Chances are if you let your training drop off in these crucial last few weeks, you’ll feel lethargic on that start line.

Similarly, working too hard means that you could feel knackered when event day comes!


  • 5. Fill in your session types.

running training session

Sleeping on the job..? Rest is an important aspect often overlooked by many runners.

In each of the aforementioned blocks above, certain sessions have a place in them and some don’t.

As an overview of session types, here is a quick list…

 Long Runs
 Tempo runs
 Marathon Pace Runs
 VO2 Max Intervals
 Speed Training
 General Aerobic Runs
 Recovery (runs & cross-training)

– Note: This is not a list of what you should be squeezing into your diary every week..! 🙂

As an example, Long runs will happen (for most of us) throughout the plan.

But things like VO2 Max sessions will generally appear in the build section (although I personally would keep some intensity in the plan all the time, even if its just one session per week).

As we get closer to a marathon, the Marathon paced runs will be more prominent, gradually building up in intensity.

Tempo Runs (which are longer intervals ran around a pace you could sustain for an hour), will appear closer to the start of a plan, and then disappear as we start to put more specific sessions in there (race pace efforts).


So there we have it – a brief overview into running training plans.

Hopefully it’ll help you get a bit more clarity especially now that I am chatting to many of my runners about their plans for 2017.


They’ve got some big goals…


What have you got on the horizon?


Let me know on Facebook or in the Run365 Facebook Group – I’d love to hear about them.




Coach Ant


P.S. We are always happy to chat to runners about helping them create the perfect plan that fits in with their lives, if you want to start your journey to the perfect training plan, have a look at our Online Coaching services.



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