Runner's World SmartCoach

Our free interactive training tool provides a schedule that's individualised for your ability and goals

Posted: 24 September 2007

Untitled Document
Intelligent Training Programs, Just for You

Answer these brief questions, and you'll immediately receive a training program that's individualised for your ability and goals.

Please supply a recent race time:*
* Required fields
hrs mins secs
for a: race distance  Don't have a race time?
What distance are you training for?
How many miles a week
do you train now?
Just started running?
How hard do you want to train? Definitions
Choose your long-run day:
Schedule length:
Starting week:
Background and Specifications
The RUNNER'S WORLD SmartCoach is a free, interactive tool that combines science, mathematics and 40 years of collective running wisdom to bring you a proven, individualised training program. You can return to it as often as you want.
Get More Background and Specifications

Don't Have a Race Time
If you don't have a recent race time, think about how far you run in a typical training session and how long it takes you to do so. Dividing 'time taken' by 'distance covered' will give you some idea of your average pace. You can then use this figure to set realistic racing goals and make a sensible prediction for SmartCoach.

Don't let your ambitions run away with you - it is important that you enter times that represent your current fitness level else SmartCoach will tailor your plan at too high a level for you to train without running the risk of fatigue and injury.

Just Started Running?
If you have just started running, or don't feel that you are running enough to use these programs, go to our BIG Beginners' Index. Full of articles it's for all of you who are just starting out. From can't-fail motivation, to a first 5K or 10K, to choosing the ideal shoe, it's all here to tell you one thing: you can do it!

Training Level Definitions
Moderate: If you select a moderate program, your training miles will increase by about 10 percent per week. Your pace will increase very gradually.

Hard: If you select a hard program, your miles will increase by about 15 percent per week. Your pace will increase very gradually.

Very Hard: If you select a very hard program, your miles will increase by about 15 percent per week. Your pace will increase quite dramatically.

Maintenance: If you select a maintenance program, you will get all the sophisticated workouts and paces that are contained in the other programs, but your miles will not increase.

Intelligent Training Programs, Just for You
Here's your individualised training program:

Your current race time is:  for a
Your distance training goal is:
You currently train:  miles/week
How hard you want to train:
Your long-run day:
Your training program Starts:  and Ends:
Length of your training schedule:
Wk Dat Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun Total
Workouts: All runs are Easy, Long, Tempo, or Speedwork
Dist: Total miles for the day
Dist/Time: 9mi @ 9:11 means "Run 9 miles at 9:11 pace."
Warm/Cool: Warmup or Cooldown. Generally 1 mile each. However, on some days, you must run extra Warm and Cool to reach your distance for the day.
Speedwork: "6x800@3:47 w/400 jogs" means "Run 6 repeats of 800 metres each, with a 400-metre recovery jog after each repeat."
Rest/XT: Take a rest day, or do moderate cross-training activity.
m: Metres
mi: Miles

The RUNNER'S WORLD SmartCoach is a free, interactive tool that combines science, mathematics and 40 years of collective running wisdom to bring you a proven, individualised training program. You can return to it as often as you want.
Get More Background and Specifications

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Discuss this article

I am liking the smartcoach and was wondering how to set my Garmin to help me with paces.  If smartcoach says 3 miles @ 9:10 should I set my Garmin for a 9:00 to 9:20 speed zone?  If I aim for 9:10 the alarm would be going off constantly saying I was either too fast or too slow.  How are other people interpreting this?
Posted: 24/09/2007 at 13:49


Not had my 305 that long but have used it to PACE myself in a recent race.  I set it up to display PACE and average PACE and did not use any alarms.  Damn thing would drive me mad if I was trying to keep to an exact PACE, bound to be some ups and downs.

Posted: 24/09/2007 at 15:27

If it says 9.10, I would set it to between 9.08 and 9.12.  I never have any problems with this kind of range
Posted: 24/09/2007 at 17:16

Cheers.  I have used the macmillan site to calculate a range for the various paces and so will add that to the types of run that smartcoach says and hey presto we have a plan.
Posted: 24/09/2007 at 21:12

fantastic - I have been twiddling with a plan for a few days and it wrote it for me. 

 Didn't think it would do one for me as 5k takes me 46 minutes but it did - fab

Posted: 24/09/2007 at 22:17

I'm not really in agreement with the paces it offers me. Based off my 10k pb of 37:57 it tells me to do all my training runs (with exception of tempo and intervals) and 7:26 pace when training for a half marathon. I wouldn't dream of doing a 17 mile training run for a half marathon at 7:26 pace...!

It also puts the longest run a week before the race, and the training is identical whether I want a "tough" or "easy" training programme.

I used to train fast all the time and got injury after injury, so I'm a little worried others may succumb to the same if they follow this to the t...

Posted: 24/09/2007 at 22:24

Thanks for your message Rach, I will bear this in mind, obviously I am a complete novice at this and looked more at the distances than the speed (any being better than none!) and over 16 weeks it moves me very slowly which sounds realistic.
Posted: 24/09/2007 at 22:46

marian, have a look at macmillan for the has been established longer and gives a range.  advice is to aim for the slower end of the range to start with and progress towards the faster end.  the big benefit of smartcoach for me is the type of training.........the number of easy runs, when to do speed and tempo and to include one long run.  this approach is similar to jack daniels.  four of my weekly six runs are of 3 miles (constricted by lunch time) and i think i have been running them too quickly.  my new plan is now - tempo run (5 miles on Monday), easy 3 miles Tuesday, speed intervals Wednesday (3 miles), form intervals Thursday (3 miles @ easy pace), easy three miles Friday and long run @ easy pace on Saturday (anything from 6 to 10 miles).

rach e - what's gobi's view on smartcoach?

Posted: 25/09/2007 at 11:22

Rapid path to injury looking at the way it organises long runs and predicts pacing.
Posted: 25/09/2007 at 11:48

I see what you mean.  18m @ 6:59, one week out from a half marathon?!  Heehee.  No ta!
Posted: 25/09/2007 at 11:56

Robo-Gobi- My long runs, for a 10 mile race, start at 8 and add a mile every two weeks over a 16 week prgramme.  The pacing starts towards the middle of easy (using macmillan as a calculator) and progress towards the faster end.  Sounds gradual so I am happy to take your critical input as your posts on here and Fetch are always worth a read.
Posted: 25/09/2007 at 13:54


I am surprised that as your long run gets longer it gets you to run faster but if it stays in the easy band I am sure it will be fine.

What sort of race pace/tempo work does it have you doing ?
Posted: 25/09/2007 at 16:58


 Thank you for the tip, the site is great will work on this - thanks again.

Posted: 25/09/2007 at 21:05

Robo-Gobi - it alternates between tempo in week 1, speed in week 2, tempo in three and easy in four.  The cycle repeats.  Tempo starts at 10 seconds slower than my fastest tempo speed and quickens the pace every third run whilst also adding a mile on that run.  The speedwork starts  at the fast end of my interval pace but quickly moves into my mile pace on the second session which is week 6.  That sounds a bit fast to me.
Posted: 26/09/2007 at 06:20

I got it to come up with a marathon programme and you'd die of boredom.  It basically takes a LSR, one 'quality' session in the week and pretty much splits the other mileage equally over the other days.  3 or 4 12 milers (at the same pace) each week pretty much every week for 16 weeks, anyone?  Now, maybe the other training programmes I've followed have been wrong, but give me P&D for a bit more variety any day!  And yes, the speeds were faster than I would usually train.
Posted: 26/09/2007 at 07:57


intervals should be fast :¬)

whose schedule is it ?
Posted: 26/09/2007 at 08:27

it's the smartcoach schedule on here for a 10 mile race based upon my time in a 6 mile race.  the schedule lasts 16 weeks.  i aim to use the schedule to plan the different types of run: easy*3, speed*1, tempo*1 and long *1 each week: and the distances but i am using macmillan to work out the speed ranges.

at the moment i am racing each weekend and so it's difficult to stick with a schedule but the long, easy, interval and tempo sessions seem to follow the jack daniels approach. 

i was just following up on a comment that you made about the smartcoach schedule being "Rapid path to injury looking at the way it organises long runs and predicts pacing" but if i am using macmillan for paces maybe it's not such a big deal.

Posted: 26/09/2007 at 09:14

I had a little play with it and as i'm concentrating on 5ks it has me running 13 miles the week before my key race
Posted: 26/09/2007 at 11:31

good luck with it toddy

I think I shall stick to writing plans instead

Just one 13 miler Pammie ? or is that total miles ?
Posted: 27/09/2007 at 13:43

A 13 miler long run on the Sunday before.
Posted: 27/09/2007 at 15:03

nice :¬0
Posted: 27/09/2007 at 15:19

and what guidelines would you use to write plans?
Posted: 27/09/2007 at 19:19

old school

hard easy principles.
Posted: 27/09/2007 at 21:57

There is no allowance made for age. Or am I still supposed to be able to run the same pace I used to when younger? ie I used to break the hour for 10miles and 90mins for a half. But my last run out was only just under 2hrs for a half, but there is a 40 year gap between those times. You should definately have to put your age in to get a correct pacing time!
Posted: 28/09/2007 at 04:02

okay, so using a race time and mcmillan, which will take account of current ability and the amount of time that i have (4 runs each week at lunch time, one evening club run and one long weekend run), here is my current plan.

Monday (5 mile club run @ tempo pace)

Tuesday (3 mile easy paced run)

Wednesday (3 mile interval session - 1/2 mile warm up and cool down, middle 2 miles split between 1 minute @ interval pace and 1 minute @ recovery pace)

Thursday (3 miles @ easy pace)

Friday (3 miles @ easy pace)

Saturday (90-120 minutes @ easy pace)

Sunday (Rest).

 How does that look?  I have a variety of races coming up, 5 and 10 miles trail, 10k and HM road.  Was also thinking of doing a repetition session (intervals at mile or fast pace every third Wednesday).  Should I be looking to do longer intervals (2 minutes perhaps).  Should Friday's easy be something else? 

Posted: 28/09/2007 at 05:52

I may be missing a really easy point completely here, but when it says run 2mi
@13:13 what does that mean? Should I be running 2 miles in 26 minutes 26 seconds?
Posted: 28/09/2007 at 17:43

yep.  13:13 is the pace per mile.
Posted: 28/09/2007 at 20:24

runalong - given you have to put a recent race time in why would it need your age to determine your pace?  wouldn't it just do it from the race time?
Posted: 28/09/2007 at 23:38

I agree with M., age doesn't determine your pace as much as previous pace does, but age probably does have a bearing on how much recovery you need and there's no allowance for that.

Maybe some of us need to try and follow the plan and then feed back what our experience is? The plan it gives me for a slowish marathon looks harder and faster than I have done in the past, but then again my times are slipping backwards (that age thing again)... it may just be what I need ;o)

Posted: 30/09/2007 at 11:45

Absolutely agree with you Ironwolf, i've only done one marathon and would not feel comfortable or even confident if i didn't do at least 18+ milers (i did about 4) and felt i didn't do enough, and a weekly mileage that is less than the race distance itself is absolutely barking.
Posted: 30/09/2007 at 16:10

I really wish we could get our schedule in kilometers instead of miles!! I've got all my kit set up in km and I entered my details in km (though I actually had to get out a converter widget to work out how many miles I do per week!), so I'd have to manually convert all the milages to get it workable for me!

 ugh, I'll just go out on my owninstead...  

Posted: 03/10/2007 at 13:24

M, I agree with what you say about recent race time being enough info. But I am more concerned with the amount of speed training the schedule threw back at me. Because I think I could get injued doing that much interval training. I rely mainly on steady state runs with some hill work and a bit of fartlek at the moment. and I feel that had I put my age in the equation then a more suitable schedule would have come out of the pot.
Posted: 03/10/2007 at 18:50

hello everyone, i am doin my first marathon this w'end-loch ness!

 am nervous coz i have been bit lazy over the past 3-4 wks and not doin my long runs-just ticking over w 2x half marathons and  2 x10ks(1 a forest-quite tough). have been doin lots of yoga thats my excuse-am studying for my teachers cert.

 the marathon plan i got was out of my loch ness booklet and it looks nothing like the one smartcoach gave me- i put in all my details coz i am hopin to do dublin in 4wks.

 i think its a bit of trial and error until you get up to serious standards.

my friend has ran over 50 full marathons, and  has stuck to the old fashioned 18wk plan for the past 30 yrs. wow!

 so im a long way off that yet.

 good luck y'all.

Posted: 03/10/2007 at 22:39

Hello Lisa welcome to RW

And Good Luck for Sunday. And for Dublin i did that one last year and had a good time, can't believe its a year already.

I'm sure you'll be ok you wouldn't want to be doing long runs too near the event anyway.

Posted: 03/10/2007 at 22:53

thanks pammie, will let you all know how i get on.

away to bed to dream of nessie!

good luck with your training.


Posted: 03/10/2007 at 23:00


I'm a bit of a plodder and have just been doing my own thing for the last few years and seem to have ground to a halt in progress terms. To re-invigorate things I thought I would try this programme, but because I haven't been taking it too seriously feel a little un-certain about a few things on the plan I have.
I currently run 5k in about 28, heart rate building throughout the run.If anyone could help I would be much obliged.

warm up and cool down: at what pace?? normally I warm up for 5 minutes at fast walking pace, but should this be for the full mile before and after like my plan suggests?
For the speedwork it says 3x800@4:19; is this 4;19 mile pace or for the 800 metres and is it in mph or kph??
Following the plan what sort of pace should I be aiming at for my 10k race, still at 6.4mph or lower?

Sorry for the quantity of questions, but i'm still on the learning.
Thanks for any advice in advance

Posted: 04/10/2007 at 16:28

ShaunV - I do warm up and cool down at EASY pace.  I use McMillan to calculate what that pace is based upon my time for a recent 5 mile race.  Distance depends on how much time I have.  If you have time then do the full mile.  The speedwork is 800metres @ 4:19 minute mile pace.  That does sound fast to me based upon your time for 5k, however, again use McMillan as it will give you a 800 metre pace.  McMillan can also give you a pace for a 10k race.  If training goes well then aim for the 10k for the first 5k and then try to increase slightly so you do a negative split, overtake some folk and run faster than the 10k pace given.  A winner all round.
Posted: 05/10/2007 at 10:41

Hi All

 I am really confused! I want to improve and am desperate for a training schedule that is realistic to get me from 10k at 65 minutes ( I am old and flabby!) to a half marathon in 16 weeks. This one looked good to me - with distances I  can achieve now to maintain motivation but the thing that worried me is the pace. It seems very slow - two miles at 12.27 will bore me stupid. Is the slow pace to help me build up distance and I can increase speed later? I do have trouble evening out my pace, so find I do the first two miles in under 19 mins, then gasp later on! And then I read all the comments from much more experienced runners and don't know whether to start or scrap this schedule and look elsewhere!
Help please!

Posted: 05/10/2007 at 11:39


Thanks very much for the advice, still slightly concerned re: the speedwork as I'm 40 with a dodgy left ankle which plays up if I push too hard on the pace. I'll check out Mcmillan and see if I can get the best from both or just rely on their advice.

Many Thanks again
Posted: 05/10/2007 at 11:40


In this case the speedwork is 800metres in 4:19 minutes.

With a 5k time of 28 minutes, you wouldn't be expected to a mile in 4.19. 

Posted: 05/10/2007 at 11:42

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