The Importance of Planning when Training

I've been nose-deep in a number of websites trying to figure out a plan for my running over the next month. I want to increase my overall 10K time (get in under an hour) and I need to start increasing my distance as I have the Half Marathon coming up in May.

From my reading, I think I need a plan. It's the only way I can keep track of everything. My head was in a bit of a muddle reading about interval training, rest days, longer harder runs etc, so I needed a way to visualise it.

Here is a summary of what I have learned:

Avoid Overtraining:

Overtraining is doing too much, too fast, too soon. I don't want to get burned out, not do I want to get injured. state:
You will need to start by keeping careful track of your mileage. Once you've established a record of mileage, you can use the standard 10 percent rule-of-thumb-never increase mileage or intensity by more than 10% per week. What this means is that if you are going to add speed workouts to your weekly program, then a reduction in total distance is necessary.
Take 2 Days Rest Per Week:

I do this anyway, but seen as I am making a plan - I should probably plan in what days I am taking as rest based on my schedule as opposed to just deciding 'today is a rest day' because I'm being lazy or its raining.

Add 2 Days Cross-Training:

Cross Training is something I haven't being doing. It can be anything from cycling to zumba - Just to add more elements to my overall fitness/exercise regime.

Include 'Easy' Runs:

Don't push yourself on every run. By constantly watching the clock or distance covered, I don't think I've ever gone for an easy run. An easy run is a run you know you can cover without caring (too much) about the time you come in at. This is something that I must incorporate.

Add Intervals or Fartlek to increase Speed:

Again, something I hadn't thought about. (link at the bottom) say the following, which again makes sense:
If you run long and slow, your body will become very efficient at running long and slow. For example, if you run a total of 40 miles per week at a constant pace, you will train the energy systems and muscles of your body to do this very well. However, if you never train at a faster pace, the energy systems necessary for that faster pace are left untrained. Studies have found that training aerobically (distance only) will not increase your anaerobic (sprinting) capabilities.
They recommend the following techniques:
Intervals: Interval training or repetitions involves running fast paced laps on a track or a set course repeatedly with short rest periods between each run. For example, a 400-meter lap at a fast-for-you pace, six times with a slow recovery jog or walk between laps. 
Fartlek: This odd word is Swedish for "speed play." Fartlek incorporates bursts of speed within your training run. The emphasis is on variety of terrain and grade of the course, and both duration and intensity of the speed interval. For example, during a two-mile run over hilly grade and open fields, include a half mile jog, then double your speed for three minutes, jog a little more, then run hard for one minute, and repeat in whatever combination of distance and pace you like.
Mix & Match:

Never do two 'difficult' runs back to back - your body needs time to adapt.

So... Adding all that together gives me the following:

I have:

  • 2 x Rest Days 
  • 2 x Cross-Training Sessions
  • 3 x Run Sessions
  • 3 x Walks (more so for the benefit of the dog than me)
Having a plan will help me know what I am doing on each day - it also ensures I take my rest days and I don't do two harder training sessions back-to-back.

I also have a Walk & Run target for the week - in keeping with my March Goal of achieving 100KM by the end of the month (so I can have my Easter Egg guilt-free!). I have only scheduled 15K this week as I ran 10K last Saturday (2nd of March) - this plan will bring me up to 25% of my target so I am happy to have a 'softer' week this week :)

I will post my data on Monday so you can see how closely I ended up sticking to the plan and whether or not it helped having the plan.