What to look for in a running training plan

What to look for in a running training plan

It can be difficult to find the right running training plan to suit your level of fitness and your specific goals. What should you be looking for in a running training plan?

And should your plan include things like hill repeats, interval sessions and track/speed sets??

Chad posted a great question in our forum about this and you can find out Coach Parry's answer in the video below...

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What are you training for?

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Welcome on to the next edition of RUN with Coach Parry. I'm Brad Brown. And we've got the coach Lindsey Parry with us. And today we're talking about the structure of training programmes and what you should be looking for. Lindsey, nice to catch up once again,

Brad, it is always a privilege to chat to you.

Lindsey, great question in on the forums on the Coach Parry Online Training Platform, and it comes from Chad.

Chad was saying: "I just wanted to let you know that this programme is very different to any other programme I've followed before, it seems like it's just general running at a slow, comfortable pace. Without any interval, hill repeats or change, no swimming or cycling to build up other body parts for running. I don't know what progress I should look out for or what's being strengthened here. It's a comfortable programme one day on one day off".

He's enjoying it, but, Lindsey, your thoughts on on that sort of question? What should someone be looking for in a programme? Should there be tons of different things? What's the best way in your opinion?


What should you look for in a running training plan?


Yeah, so the programme that Chad is on is similar to a lot of the programmes in the Coach Parry website. Essentially, any programme that's kind of slower than 2:15 for half marathon or slower than 4 hours for the marathon will have very little speed work or intensity or hill work. And the reason for me for that is actually, there's quite a simple explanation - and that's whenever I work with people, when I get questions from people, and we interact with people at the expos and so forth.

The biggest mistake most people make is that they run too hard, too often. So the majority of my programmes, especially those that have been used by just the general population, or that are available for download, they force people to run easy, essentially force people to do almost all of their training at lower than 80% of threshold. And that's the fancy way of saying it's extremely easy. In fact, it can feel a little bit boring at times.

But the reason that I do that is because I can then confidently and comfortably know that anyone following my programmes is developing an extremely strong, strong aerobic capacity. In other words, their ability to do exercise for a very long period of time will be extremely high. And for whether we're trying to race a 5k, 10k, 21k, or even longer, that is actually our most important energy system, is that body's ability to produce energy from using the oxygen that we're breathing in.


How to assess if you're improving?


So how does Chad then assess if he's improving? Well, the one thing is that at those very low and easy intensities, as he starts to adapt, he should be running, initially, at those paces and a much lower heart rate. And then as the heart rate comes down, you know, the idea then is to actually push that pace up ever so slightly. And that will then show that he is able to run much more efficiently. So he's running much faster, using exactly the same effort. So that's quite an easy way that you can evaluate yourself while you're training.

But also, there's definitely place in the programme to slot in a parkrun or to slot in a 10k race. And as you improve, you will get better those those distances. And then the other comment that he made about there not being cross training and the like, we at Coach Parry, we absolutely encourage cross training.

So for me, my staple programmes are typically four day a week programmes. Obviously as we start working with much faster athletes, we move into some five and then some six day week programmes, but most of the programmes for the majority of the population, those are four day programmes. And we absolutely encourage that on at least two of those so called 'Rest days' there is cross training taking place in the form of either strength training, swimming, elliptical, cycling, rowing, non-impact type of sports, which will also help to boost that aerobic capacity, but without the eccentric loading on the muscles, ligaments and tendons that running provides.


Building foundations


Yeah, absolutely. And we do have strength training programmes available. If you'd like to download one for free now just head over to coachparry.com/strength-training, that URL is up on the screen right now.

Lindsey, and then just I thought of something as you were talking about that and often people think that you need to have tons of hill sessions and speed sessions for a training programme to really be effective. And I was thinking about the comparison of building a house like you would a running training programme. And often people neglect the foundations.

If you are building a house, the first thing you would do is build that foundation. Yes, we want houses to have windows and roofs. But you can't add those into your building unless you built a strong foundation. And what you're saying with these training programmes, it does exactly that it builds the foundation with time, you can then start adding all the bells and whistles, the windows and the roofs if you'd like, or the speed sessions and hill sessions.

Exactly, and anyone who is on and in our platform over time, that is the evolution that will take place. But for me, it's really about maximizing that aerobic ability.


Have faith in your running training plan


And you know, Brad, you do the interviews. So you've spoken to so many people that were skeptical of, you know, why are we running slowly all the time, surely, to get fast, I need to run faster. Yet, when they've put faith in the programme, they've all gotten much faster than they ever thought that they could. And then when we add in the speed work and the hill work and that sort of stuff, it makes a much bigger difference. But if you putting in speed work into a system that's not ready, you get tired, you get injured, and you never get the best out of your running.

Yeah, it's funny you say that Lindsey, because every person that we spoken to, whatever race it was, and one in particular I'm thinking of is Shaun Simpson who's on the platform, who ran an incredible Comrades this year. And it's the guys who literally follow the programme to the T, that if it says you need to run 45 minutes at so many minutes/km, that's what they do. Like, they just put 100% faith, and those are the guys that tend to get the best results.

It's the guys who who sort of try and manipulate it and add things in because they want to add extra things in. Those are the ones that they get results, but they're not as good as they could possibly be. It's just amazing how the guys who really sell out to the process are the ones who reap the results.

Yeah, and I mean, I think that goes for a lot of training programmes. And I always, the way that I explain it to people is that they are different ways to train for things and they are other approaches. And some of those approaches also work. So it's not that mine is the only way. But when you start putting two different ways of training against each other, they almost work against each other and that's why the results that you get aren't what you're hoping for.

Absolutely. If you want to find out more, all you need to do is head over to coachparry.com and don't forget to download the strength training programme on us as well. You can click on that link or just look at the link on the screen right now and will take you through to that page. You can download it for Mahalla! Lindsey, as always great to catch up.

Thanks for your time today and we look forward to catching up again next time.

Brilliant, chat soon Brad.

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