How to create your own running training plan

How to create your own running training plan

Whether your goals are to run a marathon, lose weight or just improve your overall physical fitness, the first thing you’ll need is a solid and sustainable running plan. Building a training plan that’s tailored to your goals will make your journey easier and keep you on track to achieving them. However, if this is your first time creating a running plan you might find yourself struggling with how to approach it. 

Everyone's running plan will look different depending on skill level, experience and goals. In our blog, we cover tips and advice on how to create a successful running plan that will meet all of your needs. From beginner to intermediate runners, we will guide you through what you need to know to help you build a plan that prioritises everything from variety to recovery.


Why do you need a running plan?

One of the biggest challenges you might face while running is staying consistent, especially if you're a beginner. Maintaining consistency can be a challenge for even the most experienced runners, especially if a plan lacks variety.

Without a solid running plan, you run the risk of entering a similar routine or remaining within a comfort zone that results in you not seeing the progress you desire. A running plan can keep you on track to hitting your targets, ensure you have plenty of variety that will offer both enjoyment and sustainability and help you prioritise recovery.


Best practices for creating an effective running training plan

There are a few things to note when creating your running plan. The first is to know what your goals are, as this will ultimately define how your plan looks. For example, someone whose only goal is to get fitter will have a different plan than someone who is training for a marathon. Someone who’s trying to lose weight may not need to incorporate speed-focused runs, and they might find themselves focusing on endurance and distance instead. However, no matter what your goals are, including variety helps to keep your running plan fresh and enjoyable.


First steps for beginner runners

The first steps to getting started with running can look different for everyone. For beginners, the first step will be getting used to the act of running itself. This could look like doing simple 20-30-minute runs 3 times a week while your body adjusts to the exercise. When you’re completely new to running the best thing to do is to focus on time rather than distance, as hitting time goals will be easier than hitting distance goals, so long as you set them realistically. Make sure you pace yourself and slowly increase your endurance, if you push yourself too far too soon you might find a lack of enjoyment in running and this can lead to falling off track.

If you find you need motivation at the start to stay consistent, you can also try joining a running group. Meeting fellow runners who can offer tips and advice can help you when it comes to both creating and updating your running plan.


How to increase endurance while running

After you’ve gotten used to the act of running you can start to slowly switch your goals from time-based to distance-based. The goal with a training plan should be to slowly increase your mileage by a few miles every few weeks, once you’re confident enough to make the switch to distance goals. This will depend on your fitness level. Your runs should always feel challenging but not exhausting, if you find yourself struggling to keep up with your plan, or maybe you find your plan too easy, then make sure you adjust it accordingly over time for the best results.

If your ultimate goal is to increase your endurance, whether for a marathon or to improve your overall fitness, then try adding one long run every week that is around 20-30% more than your average running distance. This will help to increase your endurance and push you to run farther distances. 


How to increase your running speed 

If your focus is on increasing your speed, maybe you want to finish first in a race or just like the thrill of a fast-paced run, then you’ll want to incorporate some interval runs into your plan. Interval runs include bursts of sprinting at top speed for 30-60 seconds and then a few minutes of rest with walking. These types of runs can be a bit challenging and are classed as high-intensity so if you’re looking to incorporate them into your plan then you will need to make sure you follow them up with a recovery run, which is an easy run, at a slower pace for a shorter distance. They are great for keeping you on track while helping your body to recover from pushing yourself previously. 


Including recovery in your running plan

No matter what level you’re currently at or what goals you’re working towards, recovery time should always be prioritised. Muscles build when resting, so whether you’re looking to lose weight, train for a marathon or try to improve your overall fitness, recovery should not be underestimated. Recovery is especially important after you’ve done a speed-focused or long run so you aren’t pushing your body too hard. Remember to leave at least a week in between each long-running session and always follow up with a recovery run. 

While building a training plan, we recommend “deloading” every 4th week, consider this as a rest week to give your muscles a chance to adapt and recover. A de-load week is where you reduce the intensity during your runs. This can consist of easy, short runs or even some alternative exercises such as swimming and yoga - anything that is easy on your joints. Deload weeks will help you come back stronger and should always be incorporated into your running plans to take some pressure off of your muscles. 


An example of what to include in a running plan

For those who are completely new to running, creating your first training plan might seem intimidating. We have some great examples of running plans you can browse for inspiration when creating a running plan that suits your needs.

If you’re a complete beginner then take a look at our guide to running for beginners. It has everything from the best beginner's running shoes to an in-depth look into helping you get started with your training plan. For anyone looking to push the boundaries of fitness and complete their first marathon, we have an in-depth guide on how to train for a half marathon complete with a 12-week training plan to help you pass that finish line. However, if a half marathon seems a bit too intimidating right now we also have a 10k run training plan to help give you an insight into how to create a sustainable training plan.


The best equipment for running

A solid running plan can keep you consistent and produce the best results, but providing yourself with good running gear can make your journey a lot easier. Below, we detail some of the essential bits of equipment you may need:


Running shoes

Having high-quality running shoes can make running a lot more enjoyable and take the pressure off of your feet. Investing in comfortable running shoes will support your ankles, provide breathability and help to prevent injury making them a substantial part of your training gear.


Nutritional support

If you’re looking for the best results, then start by ensuring you have proper nutrition alongside your training plan. The right nutrition will help you feel strong and energised and is especially important for those long-distance runs. There are many ways you can boost your nutrition alongside your training plan, from protein bars and energy drinks to gels for on-the-go, and we have a great running nutrition collection to help you tackle your goals head-on.


Running tech

Fitness watches are another great piece of gear to go along with your running plan. They help you track your progress so you can measure your data and will give you the best insight into how you can keep improving and hitting your targets. This Garmin Forerunner 165 Watch is one of the best when it comes to tracking your running progress. It enables you to track everything including your stamina and has a great music feature that can connect to your headphones to assist with your pace during your running session. From the data the watch provides, you will be able to adjust your running plan to suit your needs as you grow and never worry about getting stuck in your comfort zone.

If you’re looking to take it to the next level with some gear that will provide you with the most accurate running data analysis, then CORO running pods are your best bet. These running pods clip onto your socks or shoes for next-level data accuracy. It works as an accessory to your CORO watch and has improved GPS accuracy for dense cities. With the ability to collect data from temperature to ground time and stride height, there is no better piece of running equipment out there if your running data is important to you. 


Get ready to train with Start Fitness

The most important part of any running plan is to enjoy the journey. Sustainability and variety that cater to your needs are the best ways to keep your plan feeling fresh and exciting. If you want to make the most of your plan, then set yourself up with everything you need to keep on track and browse our running clothes collection. With everything from shorts to jackets to help you stay consistent all year round and great running tech from brands such as COROS and Garmin, get ready to hit all your goals with Start Fitness.