What's the plan for your next run? You may go as far and as fast (or slow) as the spirit moves you or time allows. That's fine, but structuring your workouts can add value. The right plan boosts motivation, helps build fitness while minimising injury risk, and includes recovery time to avoid fatigue. Here's how to design your ideal running week.
What to include
Your ideal week will feature a longer run to build endurance, a hilly run to improve your strength, and a scenic or social run that regularly injects some fun into your routine and keeps you coming back for more. Include a speed workout only if your goal is to run faster.
When to run
Running every other day allows 'weak links' - your knees, feet, or hips - time to heal. Do slow, long runs at the weekend when you have more time. Weekdays are ideal for shorter runs - say, Tuesday and Thursday. If you're doing speed workouts, it's essential to take a rest day before and after these sessions to rest and recover.
When to rest up
While you don't have to exert yourself on non-running days, some form of exercise will energise your mind, improve your attitude and burn fat. Choose an activity that doesn't fatigue the calf muscles, such as swimming or walking.
How to vary your week
You can keep the same schedule from week to week and alternate your route or running partners to boost your motivation. If you're focused on an ambitious goal, such as a first race or a new distance, alternate focused weeks - complete with hills, long runs and speedwork - with easy weeks that include social runs and one targeted session.