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How To Start Training For A Marathon And Longer Races

How To Start Training For A Marathon And Longer Races

Author: Dave Ringwood, FRC Coach & Training Program Coach

So you want to sign up for a race, that’s great! After all, the absolute best way to keep yourself running and hold yourself accountable is to initially find a race, sign up for it, pay for it and mark your calendar. A race date will help you stay focused and plan your training accordingly. In this blog you will get all of your most pressing questions answered from FRC coach and training program coach, Dave Ringwood. At FRC, we recognize that each race is different and every runner has his/her own unique needs and challenges. Our training program coach can work with you to customize a training program based on your needs and training goals. These programs will set you up for success by being personalized, holding you accountable and of course being fun. 

HOW TO PREPARE

Like runners, every race is unique. And the training to prepare for them should be too! The very first step should be to choose a race that allows enough time to appropriately prepare. The time between deciding you want to run your race and actually toeing the start line will be filled with new experiences, lessons, and moments that deserve your attention. I recommend taking approximately 12 and 16 weeks for the half and full marathons, respectively.

Next, it is important to identify what days throughout the week work best for training. For longer distance races, I recommend dedicating at least four days per week, so identifying where those best fit around the standard week.

Once you’ve decided your goal race and found time for training, I recommend finding a community (large or small) that can act as a source of motivation throughout your training. This could be in the form of family/friends, a running group, or a coach-led program. The motivation derived from a group is invaluable to maintaining a positive attitude over the course of a training program. And speaking of training programs, a coach can provide appropriate training for meeting your race goals in a healthy and fast way! Guess where you can find this type of community and training program… that’s right, FRC!

To that note, I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial a training group or coach is for seasoned runners training for their first half/full marathon. The more experienced one becomes at running, the more detailed the goals become. The workload feels lessened with a positive group surrounding you and the mental stresses are minimized with a coach guiding you along the way!

If a coach or training groups aren’t realistic options for you (not the case if you live near FRC!), the most important first step is identifying a training plan that works for your schedule. Structure is the key to success when preparing for long distance training.

I typically recommend 12 and 16 weeks for the half and full marathon distances, respectively. Of course, there is always room for flexibility based on the individual. Typically, a more seasoned runner will need less dedicated time to the training program, simply because they have more “base” miles under their belt, and are likely coming from a place where they are already running. These runners might not need to build up into the mileage, so might be just fine running fewer than 12 or 16 weeks. On the other hand, beginner runners might be coming from a place where they are just beginning/returning to running, and will need additional time to build up their mileage, and could benefit more from the full 12 to 16 weeks.

And beyond that, every runner is unique. For example, it’s worth noting a runner’s injury history and noting how that might affect time needed during the buildup. If injuries have been an issue in the past, it’s worth spreading the training out a bit more, allowing a more gradual progressing towards peaking on race day. Understanding that each runner is unique is essential to bringing your best self to the start line on race day.

IMPORTANT TRAINING FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Speed work, intervals, and hill training are all important pieces to incorporate in your training. The key is making sure they are appropriately executed based on the time until your race. Early in the program, intervals are typically longer and less intense. While more speed work is included towards the later stages of training, with intervals moving shorter but more intense.

I typically recommend hills based on the race course. For example, if hills are prominent in the later stages of a race, racers need to prepare for attacking hills on tired legs. A great way to simulate that experience is to finish a long run with a few hilly miles.

HOW TO PREVENT INJURY

Dynamic stretching (functional movements, bringing much of your body through full range of motion) before working out and static stretching (stretches held in place for an extended period of time) after working out are the bare minimum for preventing injury. For some runners, this is enough to remain injury-free, and they don’t need to consider anything more. Lucky them!

For many others (myself included), more is needed to remain confident in our ability to remain injury-free. A simple preventative measure is to make sure you are adequately hydrated throughout the day. Hydration plays a key role not just during performance, but also for prior to performance. Hydration promotes loosened joints ready to run.

Additionally, recovery services (found at FRC) provide a great opportunity to keep injuries at bay. Foam rolling, massage, compression sleeves, cryotherapy, cold water soaking, and infrared saunas are all valuable recovery resources that help keep injuries from occurring!

WHAT SHOULD A TRAINING PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?

When building training plans, I work the week around what I like to call “quality runs.” Quality runs can include speed work, intervals, hills, and/or long runs. I structure most weeks to include two quality runs, with easier/recovery days surrounding them.

The longer of these quality runs will be completed during the weekend, to prepare runners for the weekend race. The shorter will be mid-week, to allow appropriate recovery between the two.

For longer races, I recommend at least four total runs per week, but how those runs are structured and how cross training is incorporated depends largely on the runner’s experience, goals, and injury history. Beginners will likely need to work up to the four days per week of running, using cross training as recovery, with complete days off on a weekly basis. While extremely seasoned runners might be running every day with doubles included. It’s all about finding each runner’s “formula!”

SUPPLEMENTARY WORKOUTS FOR RUNNERS

I’m a strong proponent of yoga and body weight exercises, regardless of your experience with either. Yoga is a fantastic way to open up your body and allow it to work as one coordinated structure, rather than isolated parts moving near each other. Yoga is a way to develop your body’s ability to communicate with itself, providing smoother and more natural movements during your run.

Bodyweight exercises are fantastic because they do a great job developing a runner’s core through functional movement. At the later stages of a distance race, a strong core that is used to functional movement will do a better job maintaining form, allowing the runner to focus all remaining energy on moving forward.

WORDS OF MOTIVATION

Running is such a special activity because it provides us these condensed lifetimes over the course of months (training programs), weeks (training blocks), days (workouts), and even minutes (hard intervals). And like a normal lifetime, these condensed versions are filled with ups and downs, triumphs and failures, joys and heartbreaks. But the beauty of the lows is that they make the highs worth it. The contrast between the two is amazing, and we are gifted with the opportunity to experience that contrast on a regular basis. The end result is all the more rewarding thanks to the tougher parts of training!

Trust your training, trust your plan, and trust yourself. The work has been done, you know your plan, and all that’s left to do it go out and do it. Luckily, that’s the most fun part of all! No half or full marathon experience will ever be the same, so have a great time with your first, and embrace the fact you get to do it again!

Best At-Home Workouts

Best At-Home Workouts

Author: Carol Housaman, FRC Coach and Certified Personal Trainer

Even though gyms, parks, and tracks are closed due to COVID-19, there are still ways to be active, even at your own home! The healthiest/best thing you can do during this time and always is take care of your body. What comes to mind here? MOVE! Exercise is extremely beneficial to our mental health, immune systems and physical health. All you need is your own body and the positivity to tackle a great workout. 

FRC Coach Carol Housaman provides some great tips and sample exercises to do at home. “Bodyweight HIIT interval training can be a great & challenging way to get in a quality high intensity cardio workout. Great results can happen at home in the living room with limited space & equipment. Timed Interval sets are a great way to increase the heart rate and burn calories. When done correctly the body will continue to burn calories even after the workout. This is known as the after-burn. The only equipment needed for this workout is a timer.”

Coach Housaman provides a great HIIT workout which incorporates:

  1. Plyometrics
  2. Upper body
  3. Lower body
  4. Compound movements, including core

After a good warm-up, go through each block for 30 seconds per exercise, with rest for 30 seconds immediately after each exercise. Repeat the block for 1-2 more times before moving to the next block. 

Block One – Plyometrics

  1. Air Squats – bend knees 90 degrees, drive glutes back towards a chair if available
  2. Add vertical jump to air squat or vertical reach
  3. Wide to narrow squat jumps
  4. ½ Burpee – keep hands on floor

Block Two – Upper Body

  1. Push-ups / option knees
  2. Plank shoulder taps
  3. Triceps dips on floor or chair
  4. Cross-body mountain climbers

Block Three – Lower Body

  1. Split squat or elevated split squat (one foot behind on chair) – drive knee towards floor
  2. Switch sides
  3. Reverse lunge to a high kick hop or high knee drive ( right )
  4. Switch sides

Block Four- Compound Movements (Core)

  1. Side plank hip drops / switch halfway
  2. One leg glute bridge press / switch halfway
  3. Superman lift to high plank
  4. Seated Russian twist

Common household items to substitute as weights:

  • Canned goods, 16oz water bottles, books, pillows, plastic plates can be used for gliders on carpet
  • Towels or socks on hardwood floors, chairs, coffee table and sofas can be used for incline, decline and leverage
  • Backpacks or rucksacks filled with books
  • Suitcases, steps or staircase
  • Wall space for body weight wall sits, shoulder slide and glides, etc.

Most importantly, don’t put pressure on yourself to become a high-level runner/fitness enthusiast, just because you may have extra time on your hands. Maybe during a pandemic isn’t appropriate. Set realistic goals and be gentle with yourself. One step at a time!

4 of the Top Direct Benefits of Recovery

4 of the Top Direct Benefits of Recovery

4 of the Top Direct Benefits of Recovery

We’ve all been there. You’re starting your workout and your quads are flat out hurting. It’s that “cant-walk” fatigue from yesterday’s workout. A slight forward lean, stiffness in the low back – perhaps even tight calf muscles have you running slightly “off.” Proper recovery and wellness are essential to maintaining peak performance, staying healthy and reducing the potential for injury. In fact, to get the most out of your workout it is necessary to add recovery to your routine. 

Recovery will be different for different people. Each runner has their own formula, that unique mix of training, recovery, assessment and educational services that leads them to crush their performance goals. While some runners may focus on passive recovery like maintaining a better sleep schedule or getting smarter about their diet and nutrition, others use active recovery methods like whole body cryotherapy, compression sleeves and other recovery elements. Regardless, each runner should strive for structured, consistent and holistic recovery. 

Importance of Post-Workout Recovery

Your post-workout recovery is just as important as your workout. Runners of all strides can benefit from simple recovery. Recovery helps:

  • Maintain Peak Performance: Reducing inflammation, reducing muscle fatigue and walking into each workout with endless stores of glycogen (the primary fuel for your muscles during exercise) means that each and every workout you can give it your best.
  • Stay Healthy: Recovery helps make durable athletes and improve overall well-being. When you properly recover you give your body the elements it needs to recuperate on a short and long term basis.
  • Reduce the Potential for Injury: Countless runners are plagued by stress fractures, runner’s knee, shin splints, and more. Routine recovery can help prevent these common problems. 

In order to ensure that you can run your fastest and perform at your best, you must train at your best, but you must also value and prioritize your recovery. Here are four of the top direct benefits of recovery. 

1. Reduce Inflammation and Fatigue

Stiff muscles after a run? Tense after a Crossfit WOD? Wake up in the morning and feel like you were hit by a brick wall? This is inflammation – and it comes in many forms. Runners of all strides must consider two forms of inflammation – muscle and joint. 

Muscle inflammation can cause sore and aching muscles, restricting your range of motion when you are running or working out. Running is repetitive and can put pressure on the joints. Joint inflammation can cause pain while exercising and may also lead to sore knees, hips and ankles which could lead to further injury. In order to combat this soreness, many athletes use compression sleeves, cold water soaking tubs or even cryotherapy. Whole body cryotherapy is like using ice-packs or icing down after a workout but with more consistency and well-rounded benefits delivered to your entire body. Research on whole body cryotherapy has been shown to reduce muscle inflammation by up to 40%. This reduction in inflammation will help you become a more durable runner and stay injury-free.

2. Improved Circulation and Blood Pressure

Circulation and blood flow carry essential nutrients to working muscle tissue which can improve your performance during a workout and help you recover faster after a challenging training session. Improved circulation, especially within a 48-hour window of exercise, can help better manage post-workout fatigue and soreness. This improvement in circulation will help you alleviate that annoying pain you feel the day after a hard workout.

Athletes use a variety of recovery techniques and tools to improve their circulation after workouts like compression sleeves and full spectrum infrared saunas. Unlike your parent’s old-school sauna which only heats the air, and therefore only the surface of the skin, full spectrum infrared saunas penetrate human tissue, muscle cells and can raise the core body temperature – resulting in lower blood pressure and improved circulation. Additionally, compression sleeves use dynamic pressure to move fluids through your arms and legs and improve circulation. These sleeves are commonly seen on professional athletes and Olympians before and after some workouts. 

3. Improved Flexibility and Mobility

Flexibility and mobility help keep muscles and joints healthy by allowing a full range of motion. The first thing that comes to mind for most people for flexibility is the one-minute static stretch routine they perform at the end of each long run. However, it’s not that simple. Active recovery elements like foam rolling and stretching classes and sports massage therapy will help with tissue repair,  decrease fascial restrictions and to improve your dynamic mobility. Focusing on improved flexibility and mobility will help athletes stay healthy and reduce the potential for injury. 

4. Improved Mental Health

Running involves mental toughness and grit. Sometimes, mindset is the only thing holding you back from pushing through your first 5K or your next training plateau. Certain recovery elements can help aid in reducing stress which will help in training, overall well-being and mental health. In fact, yoga for runners classes can create a sense of calmness and concentration to allow for both a physical and mental recuperation. Additionally some recovery elements, like whole body cryotherapy, improve mental health by helping release endorphins.

Recovery Starts at FRC

Whether you are at home or at the facility, listen to what your body is telling you and learn how much recovery you need to be adding into your formula. Our goal has always been to inspire the runner in everyone and help them find their formula. In order to keep you happy and strong, FRC will always bring you the best in high performance recovery. So if you want to maintain peak performance, stay healthy and reduce the potential for injury, add in some recovery to your workout at FRC.

Pre and Post Race Nutrition Tips

Pre and Post Race Nutrition Tips

Pre and Post Race Nutrition Tips

Whether you are a runner, triathlete, weekend warrior or jogger, all athletes and runners can benefit from wholesome nutrition and proper hydration the day before and after a race. You must consider that your event may only be one to two hours of the day but your overall performance will depend on what type of nutrition you’re putting in your body leading up to and the day of the event. The longer your race, the more of a factor your nutrition will be in order for you to perform at your best. Healthy and wholesome pre and post-race food will enrich your body and give you the proper nutrient levels to optimize your performance. Proper nutrition can even help decrease recovery time, limit injury and even help fuel your next training session.

In order to perform at your best and not throw away months of training, proper race-day nutrition is critical. Runners of every stride and fitness level are unique and each person’s diet, formula and needs will vary. That being said, nutrition shouldn’t be something you look at exclusively for race day, this should be a priority during training and leading up to race day too. Our recommendation is always to seek the help of a dietitian or even get some nutritional counseling, however, here are some general tips for nutrition before and after your race:

Tip 1: Hydrate

Hydration is key to your success. Properly sequencing out and consuming water throughout the week, not just on the big day, will help you stay at the appropriate hydration level. Each runner is different and each race varies in length, so recommendations vary for how much water to consume. Generally, the amount of water is based on how far you are going to run and how much you weigh. A rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces the night before the race and another 20 ounces two to three hours before the start of the race. 

Hydration levels can be difficult to judge so one of the easiest ways to check if you are hydrated is by looking at the color of your urine. You may compare to the Armstrong chart, or as a rule of thumb, you want your urine to be a lighter or more transparent yellow than lemonade. If your urine is darker than this, you need to consume more water.

Hydration is imperative to doing well in your race, however, you must also make sure to replenish your system’s sodium and potassium levels as you lose water. This can be done with food or by adding a sports drink to your regiment. Consuming too much water without enough sodium intake to match will give you hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is when your system lacks the amount of sodium it needs to function at an optimal level and you begin experiencing headaches, nausea, muscle weakness, or cramps.

Once your race is over, chances are you’ve lost some water and you will need to replenish yours system. A good practice is within 30 minutes of your race ending, drink about 20 ounces of water for every pound you lost during the run. Additionally, ensure you are incorporating a sports drink with electrolytes or some food to help you replace lost sodium and potassium.

Tip 2: Source from Unprocessed Foods

Although it may be convenient to grab a protein shake on your way back from a long-run, after your race or otherwise, whole foods are superior in most ways. These are fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes and whole grains. These should be the largest portion of your caloric intake and will provide a good source of protein, carbohydrates, fats, micronutrients and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are essential for inflammation control which will aid in your recovery.

Tip 3: Lock-in Your Pre Race Nutrition

Pre-race nutrition can be confusing. Should you exclusively eat pasta at the spaghetti dinner and hope for the best? We think not. Make sure you are looking at your intake over the entire week leading up to the race before you start chowing down on fettuccine. Additionally, you should also aim to get in some protein the day before your race to maintain glycogen levels and not overwhelm your gastrointestinal system. While carb-loading can work for some better than others, each runner should consult a dietician to see what is recommended for their formula. If you are looking for a place to start for some popular pre-race foods you can consider the following:

  • Whole Grains – Bulgar, oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain pasta and amaranth are staples in the running community for a reason. Whole grains provide a good source of carbohydrates which can improve glycogen storage, but they also contain good amino acid spectrums (which can help with energy and recovery.) 
  • Dark Berries – Tart berries like cranberries, elderberries, and blueberries contain antioxidants and Vitamin C. These are both essential elements to reducing inflammation and improving blood flow. 
  • Sweet Potatoes – The unsung hero of the running world, sweet potatoes contain Vitamin A, a good source of the amino acid L-Leucine and beta-carotene, which function as a potent antioxidant. 

PRO TIP: Antioxidants can help to limit the damage caused by Reactive Oxygen Species (a fancy way of saying oxidative stress). Oxidative stress can impair muscle function and a diet higher in antioxidants may protect against this. 

Tip 4: Eat Familiar Foods

Eating healthy and wholesome foods is great for providing your body with the essential nutrients it needs to perform at a high level but runners should also consider eating foods that their system is familiar with. You’ve likely been training extensively for a race or competition so there is no need to try anything new or elaborate the day of or the day before your race. Eat foods that your body is used to eating when you are within 48 hours of your event, competition or workout. In other words, this is not the time to try any spicy food challenges. Many runners develop their own favorite combinations of food or routines, however, this will come with trial and error during training.

Tip 5: Get the Proper Caloric Intake 

Finding the proper amount to consume is a balancing act. You don’t want to be heavy before a race just to get the proper amount of calories. You can overeat. Conversely, you don’t want to be hungry during a race or “hit the wall.” As all runners are unique and races vary in length, each person will require different amounts to perform at their optimal level. Make sure you consult with a registered dietitian or get nutritional counselling to find your formula. A general rule of thumb for carb-loading leading up to race day is to eat about 4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight per day. 

For some races, the start time can constrain what food you can consume. Generally, the longer time you have before an event the more complex foods you can eat. This longer time will give your body time to digest. While the day of foods have the the most effect on your race, those four hours or closer to the race are the most important. Your focus should be on the window 4 hours before the race, however, if your start time does not allow this, you can pick the appropriate amount of food with your given window below:

Number Of Hours Before RaceCaloriesExample Foods
1 Hour Before Race100 – 200 Calories Banana or Clif Bar and Water
2 Hours Before Race200 – 400 CaloriesOatmeal with Berries and Water
3 Hours Before Race300 – 600 CaloriesToast with Peanut Butter and Fruit Juice and Water
4 Hours Before Race400 – 800 CaloriesVegetable Omelette with Toast and Fruit Juice and Water 

After your race is over, you will also want to make sure you get some nutrients back into your system, especially within the first 60 minutes of finishing. While the amount you consume varies depending on the length of your race, aiming for consuming a 0.5 gram per pound of bodyweight of carbohydrates and around 25 grams of lean protein will help muscles repair.

Tip 6: Replenish Over Reward

You crushed your race, set a personal record in the 10K or ran negative splits the entire time and now you’re thinking of what treat to give yourself. Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich? Cold Beer? The best reward is to treat your body with wholesome nutrition. 

  • Lean Protein Sources – Fish, wild meat, legumes and some white meat can be your best foot forward when it comes to repairing tissue. 
  • Cruciferous Vegetables  – These are the family of vegetables that feature cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and many other leafy greens. Cruciferous vegetables contain a plethora of micronutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K but they also contain phytonutrients, a plant-based compound that has been shown to reduce inflammation and even protect against chronic disease. It should be noted that these should not be eaten before a race as they can act as gas-forming foods that will weigh you down.

Your body will appreciate you for helping it replenish some of the nutrients used during your race!

Join The Tread Empire

Pre and post race nutrition is something that changes over time and involves trial and error. To learn your formula and take your training to the next level, try out one of our nutritional counselling!

Why Strength Training is Vital for Runners

Why Strength Training is Vital for Runners

Why Strength Training is Vital for Runners

Author: Carol Housaman, ACE certified Personal Trainer, Multiple Ironman Finisher and Coach

Runners are a tough bunch. From an outside perspective, it might seem like subjecting yourself to ever increasing milage is the method to becoming the best runner. However, running by itself is not enough to reach your potential. Strength training plays a crucial part in injury prevention and developing a running form that is as strong as it is healthy. 

So what are the best runners and athletes doing that helps them not only achieve their potential, but maintain their health in the process? According to a recent review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine more than 90% of runners experience some sort of sports-related injury during their career. Many of those injuries are the result of muscle weaknesses that are exacerbated over time due to the impacts of running long miles.

While many runners hate to admit it, some of the best run training involves doing other workouts that don’t involve running. Strength training exercises is just one of these training methods that will aid in building a healthy running routine. Many runners tend to avoid strength training exercises, but the benefits of developing your core and leg strength are what separate runners that reach their potential, from those that get injured along the way.

Some runners avoid the weight room completely. Many are afraid of bulking up, which would slow them down. However, when a properly designed program (like Formula Train) is added, weight training will not only make the body more resilient to the stresses of running, but can also improve running performance.

All runners, regardless of ability or age, can reap huge benefits from one or two strength training workouts per week. Strength training should be added into any runner’s routine regardless of age or running ability. In fact, hitting the weights once or twice a week becomes more critical with age, as muscle mass and bone density will decrease by as much as 10% per decade. Some of the benefits to strength training include:

Benefits of Strength Training for Runners

  1. Injury Prevention  – Strengthening tendons, ligaments and weak muscles will increase your chances of staying healthy and running longer.
  2. Muscular Power – Stronger legs will produce force quickly for a faster run and also a stronger finishing kick at the end of a race.  Who doesn’t want to be faster?
  3. Neuromuscular Coordination – Did you know that you can train the pathways between the brain and muscles for a higher running economy? That means being able to run faster with less effort.  How great is that?

 

Choosing a Running Strength Program

Runners should always look for a program that offers functional strength to complement their run training. A well designed program should target the following areas:

Core Training

Exercises with a high degree of stabilization.  Every running step requires a solid foundation. Strengthening the core and all of the muscles that support the spine, will make the abdominals and back stronger. The stronger the core, the more solid the runner will be when they hit the ground. Exercises such as superman lifts, glute bridges, planks and plank variations, will keep the core strong!

Lower Body

Try to find workouts with knee dominant hip and leg pushing exercises. Generally speaking, squatting is almost a must have for any workout as it will engage the glutes, the powerhouse for running. Single leg exercises are also a vital component. Single leg squats and deadlifts will help to develop hamstring and quad strength in each leg. Hip hinge movements such as kettlebell swings will also strengthen hip flexor muscles for a more powerful stride. Runners spend a lot of time moving in one direction: forward. That being the case, adding lateral movements will help to strengthen and stabilize the hips and muscles around the knees. 

Plyometrics

Any kind of jumping exercises will help develop explosive power. Jump squats and box jumps are a great addition to a strength training routine.

Upper Body

Arm drive is a big part of running. With each step a runner takes, the shoulders are briefly pulled into a hunched posture. Exercises that improve and strengthen the upper back, chest and shoulders will keep the runner running tall. Upper body strength can be broken down into pushing and pulling exercises such as rowing, vertical chin up, overhead pressing and push up exercises.  

 

Where Can a Runner Find This Type of Class

At FRC, our goal is to help you find your formula. The formula is each runner’s unique mix of training, recovery, assessment and educational services that leads them to crush their performance goals. That’s why we call ourselves “Formula” Running.

If you’re a runner or an endurance athlete and are looking for a strength training class, check out our Formula Train classes. Formula Train is our 60-minute class designed to focus on full-body conditioning (with an emphasis on the needs of runners) that highlights strength, stability and power to maximize overall fitness and performance. These group classes focus on the aforementioned strengthening elements and are featured Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. As with all of our group classes, these classes are facilitated by a coach that specializes in running strength.

 

The FRC Difference

Regular strength training classes are wonderful for an overall workout, however they may focus on isolated muscles, like biceps or just back exercises. While these are great exercises for toning, they do not focus on the elements that build better runners and endurance athletes.

How Often Should I Be Running?

How Often Should I Be Running?

How Often Should I Be Running?

Author: Dave Ringwood, USATF Certified Coach

The short answer, like most burning questions in life, is “it depends.”

There are many factors to consider when determining your optimal number of days per week to run. Some of the things a runner should take into account includes: their training background, injury history, training environment, goals and general lifestyle – just to name a few. Below is a brief, but important guide to helping you plan your running schedule, according to your running level.

 

Beginner Runners

Congratulations! FRC welcomes runners of all strides to the tread empire. It is not about how fast you can run, but how hard you run towards your goals. Whether you’re completely new to the sport of running, just getting into a fitness routine or are looking to get back into running after taking time off – everyone begins with that first step! 

For beginners with few to no reference points, a more concrete answer to ‘how often should I be running?’ can be better asked as how many days are you able to run while maintaining your health physically, mentally and emotionally. Sounds easy, right? The most elite runners and beginner runners must learn how to listen to what their mind and body is telling them. The trick is to not push it early on and to get into a healthy habit/routine of running. 

Recovery days, especially for beginners, will be essential in keeping your physical, mental and emotional energy at sustainable levels. We have the philosophy that each athlete should strive to incorporate recovery into their overall training plan in at least a 2 to 1 ratio (training to recovery), however, every runner is unique, so the number of ideal recovery days and what to do on those recovery days varies. Remember to listen to your body. If you are not feeling well or just feel a little off, do not hesitate to take a recovery day. 

For beginners, we recommend between three and four days of rest per week. We want to provide opportunities to recover after each run, but we also want to develop a pattern of running with regularity. Once this regularity is established and endurance builds, we look to assign each run with a specific purpose. An ideal week of purposeful training consists of at least:

  • 1-2 Easy/Regular Runs
  • 1 Workout
  • 1 Long Run

The variables we discussed earlier will affect the volume/intensity of these runs, as well as how many, if any, additional runs should fill out the week.

 

Intermediate and Advanced Runners

As you progress from beginner to intermediate and advanced, the weekly structure remains relatively consistent. The framework holds, but the supporting pieces around it may increase:

  • 2-4 easy/regular runs
  • 1-2 workouts
  • 1 long run

This structure still provides a wide range of days per week, anywhere from four to seven. There are many combinations of training patterns that work for some, but not others; the key is identifying what works best for you.

If you are prone to injury, replace easy/regular runs with cross training, active recovery or take one of our assessments so you can better understand and prevent these injuries. If you get bogged down or too busy, take an easy day off and recover mentally as well. If you are increasing mileage or intensity without issue, consider a full week of workouts, potentially even adding doubles.

The key is to be honest with yourself about how you are responding to varying degrees of work and to respond appropriately. Remember to listen to your body. As the other variables in your life shift and change, don’t be scared to change your training structure too.

 

Runners of All Abilities

These strategies might be difficult to put into practice but don’t be discouraged. Even the most elite runners, at times, might feel off and need to adopt a running schedule more similar to a beginner runner. Professional running coaches and athletes, like the ones at FRC, have developed an understanding of the relationship between life and running. It is important to maintain a healthy sense of balance in your overall lifestyle and we can help you find your unique Formula to reach and conquer your personal fitness goals. 

 

Running Focused Classes

For those runners who don’t know their level, or are interested in finding out where they are in their running journey, we encourage you to drop by and take either a Formula 101 or a Formula Run class. These classes are structured to provide runners an opportunity to test out their limits and to find out their level of running ability. Our expert running coaches facilitate each class so that runners of all strides can participate. These coaches take time to learn about your fitness goals to tweak and modify your workout experience according to your needs. No matter what your skill level, or fitness goal, running can help complement your workouts and leave you smiling with a runner’s high.