To continue on with our series Beginning Running: The Right Way we are looking to address some points around the structure of your week. As a beginner runner or someone who is not doing this because they want to be a professional runner should take stock in the fact that the structure will be down to personal preference. Leaving it up to personal preference will make it harder to set in stone. However, if you are starting, I would suggest following these 5 simple steps on constructing your running week.
1. DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOUR RUN. HAVE TIME FOR YOUR RUN AND STICK TO IT
The whole idea of having a structure is to have a specific time to do your runs. Like most things having a particular time set for any activity is going to help to adhere to that activity. If you were to relate the following students and their study timetables who do you think will subscribe better to their study?
Student A – Arrive home at 5, start studying, finish before bed.
Student B – Arrive home at 5, have a snack, 5:30 – 6:15 Study English, Dinner, 7:30 – 8:15 Study Math, Break, 8:30 – 9:15 Science
Student B has a much better timetable, and it is easy to see what they should be doing and when. Without the set times, Student A might spend too much time doing one subject and not the others or worse still slip into procrastination.
Find a time in the day that suits you and stick with it. I usually prefer to have it as a part of my morning routine. However, after having kids, I like to take time to run during the midday nap 😊
2. BEGINNERS RULE OF THUMB – RUN EVERY SECOND DAY
If you have a look at any elite program, you will notice that they will have a run or two every day. But if you break down what they are doing in each of their runs, you will see that between their hard sessions and runs they have at least one day of easy running. This makes sense when you read the literature around recovery times from exercise and at an elite level, their hard sessions. As the minimum 24 hours of easy efforts after hard training and sometimes up to 48 hours depending on the person.
So as a rule of thumb for beginning your running journey, take a full day to rest between your running days.
It is also important to note that you need to listen to your own body. Some people will be served better with lest rest days while others will require a longer time to recover. If you are recovery and feeling fresh, this will also help your adherence to your program.
3. LOG YOUR RUNS
If it isn’t on Strava did it happen? Well, yes, it did. But tracking your run on a social media platform like Strava, or in a journal serves a few vital roles. The first role is for load management. This will help you gauge how much work you are capable of, how much you can increase your running by, and how much you can reduce it by if you need a down week.
Think about increasing or decreasing by no more than 10% week to week.
The second role, much like step number 2, is about adherence to your program. If you can physically see what you are doing, and can compare it to how you are feeling, you will be more likely to maintain your commitment to your program.
4. FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE AND RUN WITH THEM
Humans are very social beings; not many of us really want to be the lone wolf or doing the hard work by ourselves. The same goes with exercise, and we want to be going through the same experience as someone else. So with that in mind, find a friend to run with you. Make it social, have a chat and discuss anything that is on your minds. It is easier together.
5. BE SUPERVISED – FIND A COACH
Like the step above, this has everything to do with adherence to your program and being able to seek guidance. I originally only had 4 steps, but I was listening to an online lecture done by the ASCA, which include a presentation from Jonno Weakley. He commented that for adolescent athletes the rate of improvement in a gym setting is reliant on whether that student has a program or not, but whether that student has a coach who is present at the training session guiding them and motivating them.
We see this type of drop off after school in most sport and, that is why I think the essential steps in setting your structure is about surrounding your self with like-minded people who will help guide you and encourage you!
HOW TO PIECE IT TOGETHER
With these 5 simple steps in mind, I have always found that the path of least resistance, in the beginning, is the way to go and before you know it, you will be hooked.
‘Implementation of a lifestyle change implies that a routine is followed and habits are formed.’ - Katherine Arlinghaus 2019
There are many ways to gauge whether a habit has formed, some say it takes 21 days to form a habit, some think 90 days, an old coach of mine said it took 20 weeks to get fit, which is a substantial time period. I believe that a habit forms when you no longer see that habit as a chore, and you start doing it subconsciously.
If you are starting with 3 runs a week, I would suggest having one longer run, one medium
distance run, and one run that is shorter in duration but a little bit faster in overall speed. On the remaining four days I would suggest keeping at least 1 day as complete rest and the other 3 a mixture of strength, mobility and some for of social sporting activity.
Sunday: Longer Run
Monday: Cross Train (Strength/Mobility/Social Sport)
Tuesday: Medium Distance Run
Wednesday: Cross Train (Strength/Mobility/Social Sport)
Thursday: Shorter Faster Run
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Cross Train (Strength/Mobility/Social Sport)
This template in general work for several reasons. Firstly, Sunday to distance runners is like Monday is chest day to gym junkies. It is usually the day we do our long run. Why, mostly because it is the day we have the most time to run, rest and recover.
Secondly, Monday as a non-running day works because it is usually our busiest work-day, while Friday as a rest day works, because well, IT’S FRIDAY!! Which for most people is the day they want to kick back relax and socialise.
And finally, having the running days as Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday provide ample time to recover. Think back to 24-48 hours of rest between running days. And you get two solid days off between your two most taxing runs.
All this would be my initial steps for starting a running journey. But I do know many people have different goals and aspirations and lifestyles. So if you would like help in organising your running journey, please get in touch.
Yours in running,
Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2019). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142-144.