No matter if you are training for your first 5K or your 100th marathon, it’s always best to have some structure to your training. Unless the structure is wearing you down and you just want to run ad hoc for a little bit (but this isn’t without it’s challenges too!)
Having some structure with your training allows you to know what you are going to do each day/week. Knowing how to structure your training week is a valuable skill to have in your running tool kit especially when you have to balance life at the same time!
Have a goal to structure your training around
Without a goal, it becomes difficult to know what to aim for and this is when consistency may slip! This is arguable the most important part to your training. It’s not one particular session that helps you break PB’s, it’s consistent mileage building, strength training and listening to your body.
What type of goals can you aim for? Are you the type of runner that loves just completing race or do you like to chase a time? Have you got a competition that you specifically want to train for? If so, write these all down and have that in mind when structuring your training. Your weekly plan will be moulded around this!
Now that you’ve found a goal.. create a plan!
Depending on what distance you are aiming for, it always best to come up with a plan. Whether this is a week by week plan or a yearly structured plan with weeks of mileage all planned out leading up to the race day.
Structuring your overall training week
An example of a structured week
Let’s focus on the 5 runs a week aspect for now. This includes one long run and one speed session for a runner training for a 5K.
|Monday||Rest (or Cross Train)|
|Tuesday||Easy (30-35 minute run)|
|Thursday||Easy (30-35 minute run)|
|Friday||Rest (or Cross Train)|
|Saturday||Easy (40 minute run)|
|Sunday||Long run (11 kilometres / 7 miles)|
You would have noticed that the speed session is on Wednesday. This is the most optimal training week as you get 3 days after your long run to fully recover and then another 4 days until the long run again. This obviously will not work for everyone as club sessions are normally run on Tuesday or Thursday. If this benefits you more then just swap Wednesday and Tuesday around, just ensure you feel fully recovered after your long run!
Summary of how to structure your training week
The main thing to realise when structuring your training week is to fit it around your life and what you enjoy whilst ensuring you get the right amount of recovery in between runs. With running it’s always about trialing things and seeing what works best for you physically and mentally.