Building out a 5K or marathon training plan isn’t as simple as you might think.
Running is an incredible way to push your body, and yes, it’s free to do pretty much wherever and whenever you want. But underestimate it at your own risk.
Approach things without the right prep and you may find yourself burning out before getting anywhere near your goals. But go smarter and you’ll go further, go faster, and go closer to smashing your personal best.
Sound good? Course it does.
So here are a few tips to keep in mind before you go another round in your Hokas.
Running might seem easy, but the force it puts on your body is no joke. With every stride, you’re putting the force of anywhere between three and eight times your bodyweight through your legs.
Depending on how fast you’re moving and the surface you’re moving on. That’s a lot for your muscles and joints to handle.
Especially if you’re new to running or getting back into the swing of things after a few months off.
So if you’re just getting started, take it a bit easier. There’ll be time to blast around the nearest park in a couple of weeks.
For now, focus on your form and sticking to a regular routine – which shouldn’t mean running every day right off the bat anyway.
Instead, give yourself at least one day off between runs while your body gets used to the volume, and then build up slowly over time.
Doing that means those muscles and joints will have plenty of time to recover, reducing the risk of your whole marathon training plan being derailed by something like IT Band Syndrome, which you probably know better by its more common nickname – Runner’s Knee.
To see progress on any exercise schedule, you should set yourself up for success with a solid warm up before you get started. Running’s no different.
If you’re taking off from your front door at the speed of light, then your heart, lungs and cold muscles will be in overdrive trying to catch up, making you inefficient and working harder for less gain.
It may not be as fun, but starting slowly at a brisk walking pace gives them time to warm and loosen up. It’s a great chance to clear your head and refocus too.
From a walk, build up to a light jog, and eventually to your normal running speed. 3-10 minutes of warm up pace should be enough depending on your level.
By taking a few extra minutes to do that, you’ll probably find that your sessions immediately last for a little longer and that you go a little faster. And that’s what this is all about.
This really is the greatest running ‘hack’ in my eyes.
Not all types of running were created equal. If your goal is to run a marathon or 5K, you should be focusing your training plan around that.
The main thing is getting the miles in – consistently, safely, and in a way that builds up from week to week.
Other types of running like sprints aren’t going to help you as much in endurance running, so always keep the goal front and centre.
Then, once you’ve built up to longer distances, you can start to bring in other things like interval runs, strength training, and specialised exercises targeting specific muscle groups to help you shave a few extra seconds off your runs, but start with getting the miles in.
Run. Run faster. Walk. Whether you’re prepping for a 5K or working your way up to something a little longer, try not to fall into the trap of thinking that you only need to run to make progress.
We all get tired, but being smart in those energy lulls can be the difference between being able to get back up to speed or not.
So if you find yourself slowing to a walking pace, embrace it, especially when you’re starting out.*
It’s totally fine to switch to a few minutes of walking, especially if you’re basically jogging at walking pace.
You’ll use up a lot less energy than jogging slowly, and also reduce the stress on your muscles and joints. Once you’re ready, work your way back up.
You’d be surprised how much extra energy even a short walking break can give you between longer running sessions.
*As a new runner you absolutely should be mixing in walking with your runs while your body gets used to impact.
Building a marathon or a 5K training plan is about pushing yourself to go further. It’s definitely not about pushing through serious pain.
If you ever feel a niggle in your knee, calf, ankle, or anywhere else, don’t risk it. Take the day off and let your body do what it does best.
If you don’t, there’s a real risk you could turn a minor muscle tweak into a serious injury that keeps you out for long enough to miss the whole race you’re training for.
So go and train. But do it smarter. Ultimately, that’s what’ll help you run for longer and tick that big goal off your to-do list.
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