Guest Columnist and the head coach of the Pacemakers running club, Coach Pani talks about why its necessary to follow a training plan.
Training for any endurance event takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. For most of us committing to a time needed for training can seem quite daunting at times. Often, the fear of not being able to dedicate that time to training discourages us to embark on that something new.
Morihei Ueshiba, Osensei ‘Great Teacher’ and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido once said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit”.
I draw upon this powerful message to remind us all that we have to carve out time to care for ourselves and kindle our own fire.
Whether it’s your first 5K or a full marathon, the first and foremost step would be to build an ideal training plan that carefully takes into account your personal obligations as well as making the most of every moment of your training. Even a slight imbalance in these two elements can cause negative effects on an athlete’s health, personal life and the race season.
It’s never “a one program fits all” routine as it varies per individual and also every season. The key to a successful training plan is to have one that is specifically tailored to you.
Why do you need a training plan?
- Gives workouts a new meaning
- Encourages you to do what is good for you
- Exposes you to different workouts
- Puts a lot of emphasis on improvement and
- Helps you avoid Overtraining (or Undertraining in some cases)
What exactly does a training plan offer?
Taking into account your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals, you or your coach can devise a customized plan. By doing this you will achieve 2 things – (a) it will help set the right expectations and (b) help determine the best approach to your training.
- A training plan gives a runner the instructions and directions on how to scientifically improve stamina, endurance, and speed required to run a particular distance. This can be achieved by following a certain type of workouts step by step which trains the different energy systems and meets the physiological demands required for that distance.
- It ensures that the runner is progressing in the right direction in achieving their objective without overtraining / injuries by following the “Principles of Training”.
- Makes sure that a runner is peaking at the right time for Race Day.
- Motivates a runner to perform better each time when they complete all the workouts as mentioned in the plan.
How are training plans built (10K, HM and FM)?
Once you know what events you want to take part in, it is time to draw up a training plan.
A minimum of 16 Weeks and 24 Weeks of training plan is required to run a 10K, Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) respectively. Here is an overall view of the plans.
16 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first 10K:
- Base Building (6 Weeks): Work on building your aerobic base to meet the physiological demands for the distance you are training.
- Strength Workouts (4 Weeks): In addition to your aerobic base building, include hill workouts and resistance training to build strength.
- Speed Workouts (4 Weeks): Without compromising on the base building and strength workouts, add some anaerobic workouts during this phase of training to improve your speed. But, remember not to start with speed workouts without first building the base and strength phase. Once your body is ready to take the load then add speed workouts and avoid injury.
- Tapering (1 – 2 Weeks): This is a very crucial period where an Athlete tends to fall ill, immune systems getting affected because of the training load just before race day. During this phase, your workouts should be reduced by 30 to 40 %, but the intensity has to be maintained until the race day.
While devising the training plan include one hard workout followed by one easy workout. In this way, easy workouts can be used as a recovery run, cross training (cycling, swimming) etc.
24 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first HM or FM:
While the steps to be followed remain the same across the training plan (as mentioned above), it’s the duration that varies.
- Base Building (10 Weeks): As above.
- Strength Workouts (6 Weeks): As above.
- Speed Workouts (4 – 6 Weeks): As above.
- Tapering (2 Weeks): as above.
For an amateur athlete who is looking to finish the race, the amount of time spent running is the most important factor in training. The runner’s focus should be on improving their time gradually to stay on their feet without overtraining and avoiding injury.
Whereas a seasoned athlete should concentrate on the physiological demands required for the distance they train and should mimic the race pace in their workouts.
Athletes who are training for an HM or FM should include one or two 10K and HM races in their training plans respectively to gauge their progress.
Following a structured training plan will help an athlete accomplish their peak performance on race day.