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How to Make Your Own Training Plan

Whether you're running to get in shape, get faster or complete a new distance, there are tricks to making progress without injury or burnout.

As you tackle your fitness or time goals, here are few important things to keep in mind as you develop your running schedule:

How to Build Your Training Plan

  • Start with a big-picture view. Choose a target distance for your race day, and work backwards to build a plan around your goal.
  • If you’re starting to run for the first time, think in terms of time rather than distance. Run/walk intervals are a great place to start, and you’ll want to begin with no more than 20-30 minutes every other day. Take it slow and easy as you build your endurance.
  • Your total weekly mileage will only increase by a few miles each week. A common rule is to increase mileage by no more than 10 percent per week, but it depends on your experience and fitness level.

Watch our video about how to structure your training.

Determining Weekly Mileage

This depends completely on your comfort level with spending time on your feet, your race time goals, and race distance. By developing a well-balanced training plan using the components listed above, you can improve your endurance and avoid injury as you get started preparing for a race.

As a basic rule of thumb, the longer the race distance, the more weekly mileage you’ll need to prepare for and the more time you’ll need to spend running. But whether you break down your training by time on the move or mileage, here are some basic 5K training plan outlines you can use to build out your training plan for even longer races!

Based on your race distance, here are some weekly mileage and activity time goals for beginners:

Race Distance

Weekly Mileage Goal

Weekly Run Time Goal

5K

10-25 miles/week

1:40-4:10 hrs. of activity/week

10K

25-30 miles/week

4:10-5 hrs. of activity/week

Half Marathon

30-40 miles/week

5-6:40 hrs. of activity/week

Marathon

40-60 miles/week

6:40-10 hrs. of activity/week

  • 5K: 10 to 25 miles per week (20-40 mins of activity/day)
  • 10K: 25 to 30 miles per week (40-50 mins of activity/day)
  • Half-marathon: 30 to 40 miles per week (50-65 mins of activity/day)
  • Marathon: 40 to 60 miles per week (65 mins-1:40 hrs. of activity/day)

If setting a weekly mileage goal isn’t for you, try setting a time goal instead. Allow yourself a certain amount of time each day to run, and see how far you can go.

Both are equally effective ways to get in shape for race day, it’s all about finding what works best for your mind and body.

Calculating Target Mileage

In general, you can calculate your base target mileage by doubling (or if you’re comfortable, tripling) your race distance.

For example, if you are training to run a half-marathon, your race distance is 13.1 miles.

As a beginner, you can double this mileage to arrive at a goal of 26.2, or roughly 30 miles per week as you’re training.

If you’ve run a half-marathon before or are comfortable with higher mileage, triple your race distance to arrive at a goal of 39.3, roughly 40, miles per week as you’re training.

Using a pace chart can help you set goals for yourself as you train toward your race distance, and even give context to the paces you should try to run during various workouts.

Types of Runs and Workouts

A balanced running plan will have all of the elements listed below in your weekly schedule:

Easy runs: Relaxed effort; you should be able to carry a conversation without being short of breath.

Speed workouts: Hard effort; can barely talk, breathing heavily, reasonably outside your comfort zone (you’re not Usain Bolt). Here are a few of our favorite workouts to help you get faster:

  • Intervals: The classic “run for two minutes, rest for one” run. They are great for building fatigue resistance and for getting a good sense of what a hard effort run feels like. Extend the period of time you run for and rest for less time to push yourself.
  • Tempo runs: These runs are done at just below your goal race pace (the fastest you can go for a sustained period). For beginners, this may look like 3-4 miles or 25-30 minutes. For more experienced runners, you may want to get comfortable doing your tempo runs at 75% of your goal race distance. For example, if you are training for a half-marathon, incorporate 9-10 mile tempo runs into your regimen.
  • Hill repeats: Good for endurance, good for the booty, good for everyone. Hill repeats are a great way to build strength in your leg and back muscles without going crazy at the gym. Running uphill keeps pressure off your joints and is a great way to diversify your training plan. Try this super-fun hill rep workout with HOKA triathlete Heather Jackson.

Want more? Here’s How to Improve Your Pacing and Run Faster.

A man and woman run down the street in the sun

Long runs: Moderate effort; can talk in short spurts, breathing is a bit more labored, within your comfort zone but working.

Long runs can look different for everyone depending on how comfortable you are with distance and what your goal race distance is. But no matter your personal goals, long runs should be about 20-30% of your weekly mileage. This way, they are an effective workout but are not adding additional risk of injury.

For example, if you are running 30 miles per week in preparation for your race, your long run should be around nine miles.

Read more about the benefits of long runs plus some tips and tricks from Fleet Feet coaches.

Rest days: Whether you choose gentle stretching, a relaxing walk outside, or spending time with friends, make sure to indulge in your rest! This is when your body recovers and develops the strength you need to keep training.

Curious about the science behind rest? Read more here about the importance of rest days.

Francheska Martinez

Strength training: This activity can range from body-weight exercises to traditional weighted exercises at the gym. It is essential to focus your strength training on your whole body, that means arms, back and core in addition to legs! Well-rounded strength training helps you see the most benefits and can even help prevent injury.

Here are a few of our favorite strength workouts:

  • This full-body core and leg strength workout with Superfeet ambassador and coach, Tara Garrison
  • Emma Coburn’s pre-run muscle activation exercises
  • Squats: there’s a ton of fun variations you can try, weighted or unweighted, but overall squats are a great way to build muscle and improve your range of motion.
  • Side lunges: these engage the muscles around your hip to not only build strength, but also to prevent injury as you put on more mileage.
  • Power bridges: with or without a resistance band around your knees, power bridges focus on your hamstrings and glutes to build strength in your posterior chain. This can help you get faster and improve your running form.

Learn from certified personal trainer Tim Lyman about what kind of strength training is best for runners.

Cross-training: Think activities like swimming, hiking, a bike ride, anything that will engage muscle groups you don’t normally use while running (without being too strenuous). Cross-training helps you gain well-rounded fitness and protects key muscle groups from overuse injury.

Exercises like HIIT are a great way to get your heart rate up while working key muscle groups. Follow along with Fleet Feet coach Ashely Arnold through a 12-minute HIIT workout.

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