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Guide to the plan:
This is a custom plan – if you haven’t already done it, please press here to take our running plans quiz, to make sure it’s the right plan for your current running experience level.
Runningversity plans are all in minutes, not miles/km. Why? If you tell an elite runner to go run 10 miles at a moderate effort, it might take them an hour. If you tell a less experienced runner to go run 10 miles at a moderate effort, it might take them two hours. Although the effort is same intensity for both runners, the overall difficulty is vastly different, with the less experienced runner being out for double the time and finding it much harder to recover. Therefore, if the plan is in minutes, it’s the same overall effort for everyone. If you’ve struggled following other popular running plans that are in miles/km, perhaps you’ll enjoy our plans more.
All the plans assume you can run already. If not, look at the Running For Beginners course.
Assumptions: It’s assumed that if you are looking at a plan for a marathon, you have already achieved a half marathon. Or if you are looking at a plan for a half marathon, you have already achieved a 10K. Or if you are looking at a plan for a 10K, you have already achieved a 5K. But…. If you have only ever run 5K and want to run a marathon, it’s not going to be as much fun as if you’d worked up more gradually. It’s also assumed that you aren’t injured, so you are physically and mentally ready.
Don’t be a slave to the plan: Treat the plan as a guide. If you have to repeat a week, or even go back a week, then do it. You won’t reach quite the same level of training before the event, but at least you’ll turn up with fresh legs, instead of battered, making race day more fun!
Listen to your body: If you feel like your legs are super tired all the time, maybe you are running too fast on the easy days, not getting enough sleep, or not treating the rest days with enough respect.
Weekend lifestyle: The plans assume that weekends are easiest for longer runs. If you don’t work a normal 5 day week, you could shift all the days along so that the longer runs happen on a day more suited to you. However, don’t alter sequence of the runs – they are in an order with specific rest days for good reason.
Day swaps – gaps / rest days between sessions are there for a reason and the order of the sessions is important too. However, if a plan shows a long run on a Saturday and nothing on a Sunday, then you can safely slide the long run to the Sunday some or all of the weeks. Similarly, if you need to move weekdays around slightly some weeks, then do it. Don’t add extra days. Ensure you get regular rest days.
Guide to session types:
Easy Run – “Can I say a sentence of about this length out loud while running without gasping for breath in the middle?” << If you can say that out loud, then you are probably running slowly enough. Obviously you’ll need to breathe at the end, but if you HAVE to breathe in the middle, then try going slower, or inserting a quick walk. It should be a conversational pace that feels low effort, perhaps boringly slow. Stick with it though. For more information on why it’s important to run slowly / low effort on a lot of your runs, read Run Slow to Run Fast (opens in new tab).
Tempo Run – This is running at an effort level you can sustain for an hour. So if a 10K race takes you an hour, it’s your 10K race effort level. You should not feel any burning feeling in your legs – drop back on the effort a bit if you start to feel that. If an hour is longer than you’ve ever run, then you might find that your Tempo Run effort is only a tiny bit greater than your Easy Run effort.
Fartlek Run – There are many definitions of Fartlek. For the purposes of these plans, let’s call it a fun run of mixed efforts, but without stopping. Use a mix of a few not-quite-flat-out sprints, easy pace, harder pace, walking. Just try not to stop. << You can’t get this wrong as long as it feels fun and not too much of the fast stuff. It will be different every time. Set yourself little targets, like “I’m going to sprint for 5 seconds” or “I’m going to run hard until the top of that hill and then walk to get my breathing back under control before running easy again”. Remember, FUN, not broken.
Time Trial – Sometimes in the plan you’ll see a Time Trial. This can either be an actual race or a solo time trial. The idea is to go flat out and see what you can achieve. Based on your time, you can have a guess at how long your target race will take using the Runningversity Race Time Predictor (opens in new tab), which also tells you the pace you could aim to run it at.
Race Pace – Once you have a good idea of your target race pace from your time trial results, you might see parts of a session that have a Race Pace element. This is to get your legs moving at your race pace so that it’s not a surprise on the day. For example a runner might normally run a lot slower and a lot faster than their half marathon pace in training, but not often actually at half marathon pace, until nearer the event. If you don’t have a sports watch that tells you your current pace, then try to imagine what pace will be sustainable based off how the time trial felt – this will be good practice for the event.
Rest Day – Equally as important as any running day, you need to treat rest days as sacred. For example, don’t go for a 3 hour walk around the shops.
Blank Day – some days in the plans are left blank! On these days, you can go for a walk, or do some easy effort cross training (bike, swim, etc), or take an extra rest day if you need it.
Strength Day – Strength is a topic all of its own. If you are incorporating strength once or twice a week, do them after your run on a hard day, for example after a Tempo run. For more information about why you should and how to do it, read Strength and Conditioning for Runners (opens in new tab).
Exx – Easy run for xx minutes. e.g. E30 means “Run at an Easy effort for 30 minutes”.
Txx – Tempo run for xx minutes. e.g. T5 means “Run at a Tempo effort for 5 minutes”.
TT – Time Trial. e.g. 5K TT means “Run 5K as fast as you can”.
Fxx – Fartlek for xx minutes. e.g. F30 means “Warm up with some easy running for 10 minutes, then have some fun for the rest”.
RPxx – Race Pace for xx minutes. e.g. RP10 means “Run at Race Pace for 10 minutes”.
R – Rest / Recovery. e.g. no running and only very light exercise. No strength / weights either.
h/m – Hours/Minutes. e.g. E1h5m means “Run at an Easy effort for 1 hour and 5 minutes”.
More than one thing in a box – If a box has something like “E30 or F30”, it’s up to you what you do that day. If your legs feel tired, do the E30. If your legs feel great, do the slightly harder F30. You only get it wrong if you choose the harder session when your legs are telling you otherwise – if in doubt, always go easier! This teaches you to listen to your body properly and make pro running decisions to look after yourself 🙂
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