Wanting to start a long term training program (Read 1148 times)

    I am trying to figure out an appropriate number of miles a week I should run, and how fast I should increase that number of miles.  I am fairly active in lots of sports and hiking, but definitely not in great running form.  I'm running about a 22:00 5k, and a 46:00 10k as of right now, weighing about 180 pounds.  Last September, I ran a half marathon in about 1:45, and I also competed in some sprint distance and olympic distance triathlons over last summer.  Typically I have been good about training for 3-4 months at a time prior to these longer races.  What tends to happen is I just get too aggressive with increasing my mileage and I either end up hurting a little bit too much somewhere, or I just get worn down and am not enjoying my workouts nearly as much anymore. 


    I want to be able to enjoy these workouts more long term, and I also want to be able to get faster.  I think with the right training plan, I have it in me to do a 20:00 5k.  I would also like to continue to improve at my triathlon stuff, as I like the way the cross training stuff makes me feel, but I can work that stuff in a little bit down the road.  I also like lifting weights 2-3 times a week, but again, I can figure out how to fit that in with running as I go.


    So how many miles do you guys think is good for me to start at?   How often should I vary the run workouts (i.e. sprints, intervals, long runs, etc.)?  How fast should I increase the weekly mileage?  Any general tips on getting over the hump and finding more enjoyment out of running?


    I occasionally skim through these forums and have enjoyed reading peoples thoughts.  Thanks for any help you guys can offer!

    Bushrat Runner

      You put down some of your race times, but no information on whether you are running right now at all, or how many miles you were running when you got hurt/worn down. It is hard to make any statement about mileage without some information about where you are and where you have been in those terms, so I won't give you any numbers. 


      However, I will make a few observations that might be helpful. 


      First, I always try to have a race on the schedule that can focus and motivate my training. Otherwise, there is no real tangible reason why today's run matters, so it is easier to talk myself out of it. 


      Second, I have at times ramped up my miles faster than the recommended 10% per week. I find that increasing mileage of long runs or of the week as a whole can be done either gradually, by the 10% per week rule, or by leaping further ahead, then dropping back, then leaping ahead. As an example, if I am running 25 miles per week, then run 40 one week, followed by dropping back to 25, after which I can probably comfortably move up to the mid-30s. 


      Third, rest and nutrition can really matter a lot when you start putting in serious mileage, no matter how you go about it. 


      That's my initial response from reading your post. I may have more to say if I see more information...


      Good Luck.

        I would start to get worn down running in the 20-25 miles per week range, but this was often accompanied with 4-5 hours a week on swim/bike/weight workouts.


        It has been about six weeks or so since I have consistently ran, and I am wanting to give it another go.

        Bushrat Runner

          What you describe sounds like overtraining or undersleeping or both. It may be that you are running too hard, as in putting in all your miles at an effort level that is too high. Most running should be very slow in relation to race paces. A typical running schedule would have two harder workouts per week with all other runs easy. If you are going to cross train a lot, like for triathlon, you may need to reduce that. 


          I have run too hard on a regular basis before. In my experience, you will get better faster if you slow down, make your running pace so easy that it is really not any harder than walking, and thereby allow yourself to run more often without getting burned out. Then take a day where you run quality such as intervals, hills, fartlek, tempo, or sprints. Another day is a long run. But all the other runs are easy. After you see where a few weeks of easy running get you, then you can start to tweak your plans.

          Bushrat Runner

            My draft schedule based on what you said:


            Day             Week 1                        Week 2                            Week 3                      Week 4

            Mon              3 easy                        3 easy                              4 easy                       4 easy

            Tues            2 easy                       3 easy                               2 easy                        3 easy

            Wed             3 fartlek                     3 intervals                        4 fartlek                      4 intervals

            Thurs           2 easy                        3 easy                              2 easy                        3 easy

            Fri                 3 easy                        2 easy                              4 easy                        4 easy

            Sat               rest                              rest                                   rest                             rest

            Sun              5 easy                        5 easy                              6 easy                         7 easy


            I can think of lots of ways to tweak this, but from the sounds of it, you might have trouble making yourself run slow. If so, I recommend you get a heart rate monitor and look up low heart rate training, and use the monitor to help you keep the effort easy. It is counterintuitive...but it will make you faster...

              Thanks!  I think I do tend to have my effort level be pretty high on most of my runs.  The "hard" runs I have tended to push myself to my complete physical and mental limit, which if I am doing several times a week definitely has worn on me.  So I will be sure to watch that.


              Thanks a lot for all of your suggestions.



                  Thanks!  I think I do tend to have my effort level be pretty high on most of my runs.  The "hard" runs I have tended to push myself to my complete physical and mental limit, which if I am doing several times a week definitely has worn on me.  So I will be sure to watch that.


                  that explains why 20-25 miles a week wears you down. 


                  I think you'd do better with a week consisting of 5 hard miles, 20 easy miles a week, and a long run. 


                  (once you work up to 30-35 miles a week that is)

                  In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion





                  Bushrat Runner

                    Some things that can help you run slower:


                    1. Get a Heart Rate Monitor and set an alarm anytime it goes over 145 bpm (you can use other thresholds, but 145 will almost always correspond with the easy range for anybody under 55, so this forces you to keep the effort well down in the fully aerobic zone).

                    2. Run with somebody else and maintain a conversation the entire time...comfortably. If you are talking comfortably, you should be going slow enough that it isn't a problem. Finding somebody that is comfortable at the same pace as you can be tricky, but if they are too slow for you, that is even better. Forces you to run slow.

                    3. Run 3 miles and challenge yourself to run it without stopping at a speed slower than you walk. This is only for truly inveterate over-runners...as it is very frustrating to go that slow for most folks...

                    4. Run for the purpose of seeing something or exploring, without a watch, without a GPS, and take a camera. Make yourself take pictures of everything interesting, so you are stopping all the time. Prevents the mindset of speeding up to get the run over with. 

                    5. Develop a slow run mantra. This is one of the things that worked for me. I started telling myself, "Building up, not tearing down," while I was running. The goal was to slow down so that I could run every day. 


                    Good luck.


                      If you're keen on increasing the number of miles per week but have had difficulty with it in the past, I'd dump all the fast running for a bit until you've actually bumped the volume.


                      For example, first two to three weeks bump the mileage up to 30-35 or whatever with no workouts at all, just easy running with maybe some pickups here and there. After you've consistently done that for a couple of weeks, then start introducing some faster, higher-end aerobic work in the form of progression runs or some easy tempos or fartleks. This is just once or twice a week, no more and not too hard.


                      Once you've gotten to the point of handling that, then you might think of introducing some harder workouts if you have a race coming up. If you don't you may try repeating that whole cycle and bumping the mileage up to 40+.


                      Introducing higher volume is like introducing a new interval workout. It's going to stress you a bit more than you're used to so you have to approach it with a conservative mindset. Remember, just knocking out a few 30 mpw weeks does you no good if you run them too quickly and wind up having to take some time off. Consistency is the trump card for any and all training.


                      With a 22 min 5k off of 20-25 mpw, you can definitely go sub 20. With a couple of years of consistent training you could probably go sub 18 or even faster if you really wanted.