I love coaching and being coached. It’s a one-of-a-kind relationship where you share your trials and triumphs. But not all of us (reality check – MOST OF US) can afford nor see the point in seeking out a personal coach for our running. Even if you are, or plan on being a “serious runner,” you can indeed be your own coach. There’s a lot to learn about training and coaching, so I’m essentially giving you a template that points you in the correct direction. Take what you want and resist the details if you’re like me and don’t want to get overwhelmed. But, inevitably, it will still leave you with plenty of things to Google. On some level, we all need to take some self-agency and know our business.
Step 1: CREATE YOUR PACE CHART ➡️ Put in the time of your fastest 5k, half marathon, etc. and create a list of your various paces for various distances. For instance, if your fastest marathon is 03:59:00 your pace chart will look something like this:
Your pace is 9:07
Your time is 3:59:00
Your distance id 26.2 mi.
1 Mile = 9:07
3K = 17:00
5K = 28:20
5 Miles = 45:37
10K = 56:41
10 Miles = 1:31:13
½ Marathon = 1:59:35
Marathon = 3:59:10
I’ll refer you to a Runner’s World blog specifically on pace charts so you can create your own.
Step 2: FIGURE OUT YOUR vo2 MAX ➡️(also called the lactate threshold) For highly trained and elite runners, lactate threshold pace is about 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace (or about 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace) and corresponds to about 85 to 90 percent max HR. The pace should feel “comfortably hard.”
But what should my max heart rate be you ask? A lot of people will say 140 is a standard for endurance exercise. If you’re training for something that you suspect will take you more than an hour to complete (say a 10-miler) We want to really concentrate on our base (more on that later) and keeping our body aerobic. Say what? But I’m not trying to do no work out tapes by Fonda!? I’m talking about Aerobic vs. Anaerobic exercise. In aerobic, or “with oxygen” exercise, your muscles have enough oxygen to produce the energy needed to perform. Anaerobic “without oxygen” exercise means oxygen demand is greater than oxygen supply and you can’t keep up with the energy your body is demanding
If you’re a competitive athlete willing to spend the money, go to a sports doctor to get your levels tested. This will determine pace as it correlated to your heart rate. If you’re a mere mortal like the rest of us here is a more general way of ball-parking it.
Here are 3 (A-C) resources for us mere mortals to determine our personal vo2 Max:
A. VO2 Max Charts Explained – How to Find Your VO2 Max Score the Easy Way
B. VO2 Max Calculator – Aerobic Capacity
C. How to Measure and Improve Your VO2 Max
Step 3: UNDERSTAND WHY WE BUILD A BASE ➡️ Base training is built around the slow, long-distance run. By running successively longer distances, runners build up their aerobic capacity by expanding capillary growth around muscle cells for efficient oxygen delivery. This gradual progression will also strengthen connective tissues and build up a runner’s resistance to common running injuries. Here are 3 great resources for the “how what & why” around building a base:
Step 4: LEARN ABOUT INTERVALS & DRILLS ➡️ …You will want to read up (or Google up, our YouTube-up) on the merits of hill repeats, meter sprints, tempo pick-ups, and essentially (and perhaps the most tricky / “open to debate” aspect of training) the “how and where” to insert these nuanced aspects of fine-tuning your running. There’s an art to it but don’t let it intimidate you as it did me when I first got into “serious” running. I remember buying one of Jeff Galloway’s marathon training books and being horrified by how complicated it seemed. If this doesn’t jive with you right now, it’s okay – you can skip this step but do know that as you grow as a runner… You’ll be back to learn about this stuff when want to run a faster time! You may not love interval training. You may resist the term and its intrinsic analytics. But you will learn to love it as time passes and as races pass with disappointingly mediocre results. I repeat – you’ll be back! Moreover, the details don’t stop there. To be well rounded, keep good form, and stay injury-free we really need to incorporate drills into our routine. The following links are great resources for intervals & drills:
Step 5: THE CALENDAR ➡️ …The calendar holds your destiny! Go buy a cheap calendar and a sharpie. Right down the behind of your race training to race day. Google examples of ‘Marathon Training Plans’ to see how to build up the training parabola. You want to take yourself up to maximum training week then start taking it down for recovery time. Do not underestimate the importance of sleep and rest days!!! Next to building your base, recovery is everything in endurance sports. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand. Overtraining is very counterproductive and inevitably always ends in a weakened immune system, injury, and psychological burnout. You’re excited – I get it; I am too! But you (no – WE) must be patient and trust in the process.
- Sample 10-week Running Program
- Example Marathon Training Calendar
- First 50K Training Plan Example
- Blank Printable Training Schedule
Step 6: JUST SAY NO ➡️ …Congrats, you created your training calendar and you’re ready to execute. Now, the universe will conspire to crush and roadblock every single thing you’ve planned on doing. You need to switch things around in your schedule to make it all work. You will inevitably half to blow off someone’s backyard barbecue to do your long run. Guard your time jealously. Something to consider: We get worried about making money yet have no problem frittering our time away. Yet, if we become broke, we can always make more money – but time is the one precious resource that slips away from us indefinitely.
Stoic Philosopher Seneca said You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. … Wasting time is the worst thing we can do to ourselves, but of course, there are many things and people that would take away our precious time.
Parting words: manage your time. Keep showing up. Consistency is everything. Don’t overdo it. Rest & recovery to make gains. Have fun!