Consistency is Key: Setting Up and Following a Plan.
When planning a road trip to a destination with a specific arrival date, we need to come up with a plan or course of action to get us there on time…Right? There may be several different plans to get us there too. One thing is certain however; without a plan, we may arrive too early, arrive too late, or just never get there at all. Planning to be at your top fitness level for a key race or race season is very similar.
So let’s first select a goal race and a realistic goal time for that race. We should allow ourselves 12-16 weeks to appropriately train for this race. The time needed is based upon our experience and current training. Once the race and date have been selected along with the number of weeks needed to train, we can work backwards from the race date to our starting date, filling in the blanks (days) with tentative runs, distances, intensities, and rest days. Any races that you plan to run before your goal race can be used as part of your training. Races that youplan to run after your goal race can be used to improve on the time of your goal race.
Why should we work backwards from your goal race to the start of your training plan? Think about it. You have a target distance and a target time and pace for your race that is 12 to 16 weeks in your future. Currently, your fitness level will allow you to run a specific distance and pace that is well under your target. Your plan needs to be consistent and incremental in distance and speed in order to see improvements. Remember, your body needs time which includes rest, in order to adapt to a stress (training out of your comfort zone). Each of those 16 weeks leading up to your goal race is a step, gradually building on one another. We need to build a foundation or base as we continually try to improve our strength and speed. Your end goal or target race along with your current fitness level will dictate how you train each week. Training weeks should include shorter recovery runs, one longer run, and a strength day (hills or tempo) and/or a speed day (track, road/trail fartlek). Don’t forget, rest days are important too…but not too many.
In conclusion, It’s not an easy task, setting up and following a program for 12 to 16 weeks. Things come up, and life gets in the way sometimes. We may need to be flexible and make changes because of a variety of circumstances that revolve around work, family, illness, and just plain fun. The bottom line is that we stick to the plan as best as we can. Consistency and hard work, training out of our comfort zone, mixed with a little rest are keys to success.
It takes dedication, hard work, and perseverance in order to achieve any significant goal in life. Usually, that means compromising with other things that we like to do in our life. The BIG question is, “Are we willing to make that sacrifice?” Create a plan that works for YOU.. something realistic and attainable.