- Training plan
About this challenge
This challenge brings you a mix of different training approaches, suggested sessions and supplementary workouts. On completing this challenge you’ll have broader running training repertoire and be a better runner.
The challenge comprises of individual 7 goals for you to check off separated by days of rest. You can complete each of these goals at your discretion to fit in with your current training schedule and lifestyle commitments.
beginner Training Plan
Entry requirements: beginner
Open to all with an interest in better running and training smarter.
Day 1 – Try trail running
Switch one of your road running routes for a trail running route.
Flat roads and pavements are perfectly good for training on, but to make improvements as a runner you’ll need to mix things up a bit. Training on the uneven surfaces of trails will make you far more aware of how you are running, which over time improves technique and strength.
Throw in the hills often found on trails which boost endurance and speed, and this becomes a seriously challenging yet rewarding method of running. As an added bonus, the soft surface of the trails will reduce the impact of your footfalls, which will put less strain on your body as you run.
Day 2 – Rest
Day 3 – Experiment with your breathing technique
Practice matching your breathing with your strides, for example try inhaling for 2/3 strides and then exhaling for 2/3 strides. Also experiment further by breathing just through your nose, breathing in and out through the mouth, or in through your nose and out through your mouth.
We know, we know, we’re telling you that you don’t even know how to breathe properly. But hear us out. We’re all used to the sight of the exhausted jogger who sounds like an outboard motor as they amble past, and you might have even been guilty of this yourself. Rather than frequently exhaling, make sure you are breathing in deeply on a regular basis as well. This will help to open up the heart and lungs, increasing the amount of oxygen in your body and making running easier. Even such a small change will make a big difference to the effectiveness of your training sessions.
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 – Add hills to your routes
Select and complete one of the hill sessions outlined in the article above, making sure you choose a session to match your ability.
Running along flat surfaces is all well and good, but if you really want to improve and challenge yourself you need to start adding some hill work into your training. Hill training adds variety to your running sessions, and the added effort involved helps to build up your leg muscles, improve your technique, and generally make you a better runner. What’s not to like?
If the options are limited in your area your best bet will be hill interval training. Find a reasonably sized hill and (after warming up of course) jog up it around six to eight times with slow walks back to the bottom for recovery.
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7– Improve your posture
On your next run complete the ‘body scan’ outlined in the article below to highlight any areas you need to improve upon.
Running is tough enough as it is, so you don’t want to make things harder for yourself by doing it the wrong way. Developing a smooth and efficient running technique will make a world of difference, and once you’ve got into the habit of doing it you won’t even have to think about it.
One common running mistake is to let your posture suffer as you become tired. Make sure you are facing directly ahead rather than at the ground, with your head held reasonably still. Your body shouldn’t be bolt upright, but instead at around 90 per cent.
Day 8 – Rest
Day 9 – Interval training
Select and complete one of the interval sessions outlined in the guide to interval training, making sure you choose a session to match your ability.
Planned and controlled interval training is a great way of making improvements to your running abilities. Interval training can be tailored to your skill level, but experienced runners will probably see the most benefits from it. The technique of interval training involves setting a distance of high intensity, followed up by a much slower cool down period. This can then be repeated as many times as necessary. By keeping track of interval times and distances you’ll be able to track your progress and increase the intensity of your interval training appropriately. If you have no means of measuring your distance, then a nearby running track is the perfect place to try interval training.
Day 10 – Rest
Day 11 – Improve your flexibility
Make sure your next training run concludes with a thorough stretch session focussing on the key areas outlined in the article below.
You might not be able to see a direct correlation between flexibility training and running, but we can assure you there is one. Flexibility exercises such as yoga and Pilates have a whole host of benefits that can be applied to running, including the development of strength, flexibility, range of motion and breathing technique. Recovery time will also be decreased, as your muscles develop and your strength increases. They’re also perfect for runners who are suffering from injuries – the low impact nature of the exercises means you can maintain your fitness levels without exacerbating existing problems.
Day 12 – Rest
Day 13 – Fartlek training
Complete one of the fartlek sessions outlined in the Guide to fartlek training, making sure you complete a session to match your ability.
Since its creation by Swedish running master Gösta Holmér in 1937, fartlek (‘speed play’) has taken on legendary status in the running world – and rightfully so. This technique involves setting markers on your route for short bursts of alternating speed. Anything can be used as a marker on your route, which will signify when you should start and stop sprinting – think of it as a more explosive and continuous form of interval training. Over time fartlek will give you a serious boost to your endurance and overall fitness by developing the strength of your heart and lungs. It’s worth noting that this is a technique for more advanced runners who are looking to cut seconds off their times, rather than beginners.
Day 14 - Rest and reflect
Well done on completing the challenge! Today is a day to rest and reflect on the past 14 days of training. Which sessions did you enjoy the most and least? You should now be able to pinpoint any neglected training techniques and address them in future. Good luck on becoming a more successful and stronger runner.