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How to structure your training week

No matter if you are training for your first 5K or your 100th marathon, it’s always best to have some structure to your training. Unless the structure is wearing you down and you just want to run ad hoc for a little bit (but this isn’t without it’s challenges too!) 

Having some structure with your training allows you to know what you are going to do each day/week. Knowing how to structure your training week is a valuable skill to have in your running tool kit especially when you have to balance life at the same time!

Have a goal to structure your training around

Without a goal, it becomes difficult to know what to aim for and this is when consistency may slip! This is arguable the most important part to your training. It’s not one particular session that helps you break PB’s, it’s consistent mileage building, strength training and listening to your body.

What type of goals can you aim for? Are you the type of runner that loves just completing race or do you like to chase a time? Have you got a competition that you specifically want to train for? If so, write these all down and have that in mind when structuring your training. Your weekly plan will be moulded around this!

How to Structure your training week

Now that you’ve found a goal.. create a plan!

Depending on what distance you are aiming for, it always best to come up with a plan. Whether this is a week by week plan or a yearly structured plan with weeks of mileage all planned out leading up to the race day.

The best way to approach this after you’ve figured out your distance is to work backwards from your planned race. If your goal 10K race is 8 weeks away, start with your taper week leading into the race then work backwards from there. Work out total mileage, sessions and recovery days to ensure you are ready for your 10k on that day!
If you are approaching this from a beginner’s perspective, it’s best to train by time on feet rather than distance as it allows you a lot more flexible in your training. It will also allow you to build more running resilience safely.
If you are a beginner working to mileage then don’t forget to follow the 10% rule on mileage increase. For example, if you ran 20 miles this week, you should only be running 22 miles the next!

Structuring your overall training week

Now that you have a plan in place it’s time to start structuring your training week. The best way to do this is to figure out what your main sessions are and build a plan around them. Let’s say for argument’s sake you are running 5 times a week, and have one long run and one speed session each week.
The main thing to think about is your recovery, you wouldn’t want to structure a speed session the day after a long run because you’ll be carrying a lot of fatigue. This also has the potential to injure yourself as your body has not had the chance to recover fully.
Not only will these aspects come into play but you’ll always feel tired and not be able to hit the speeds you wanted for the session. This can impact not only your physical self but your mental self too.


How to structure your training week

An example of a structured week

Let’s focus on the 5 runs a week aspect for now. This includes one long run and one speed session for a runner training for a 5K.

MondayRest (or Cross Train)
TuesdayEasy (30-35 minute run)
WednesdaySpeed session
ThursdayEasy (30-35 minute run)
FridayRest (or Cross Train)
SaturdayEasy (40 minute run)
SundayLong run (11 kilometres / 7 miles)

You would have noticed that the speed session is on Wednesday. This is the most optimal training week as you get 3 days after your long run to fully recover and then another 4 days until the long run again. This obviously will not work for everyone as club sessions are normally run on Tuesday or Thursday. If this benefits you more then just swap Wednesday and Tuesday around, just ensure you feel fully recovered after your long run!

Summary of how to structure your training week

The main thing to realise when structuring your training week is to fit it around your life and what you enjoy whilst ensuring you get the right amount of recovery in between runs. With running it’s always about trialing things and seeing what works best for you physically and mentally. If you need any advice on training then check out our NobleRunner Facebook group where the community are always around to answer peoples questions!


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