I often get asked what makes up the ideal training program.

As most people know I am not a fan of generic training plans. I believe that in order to get the most out of your time spent training, a plan needs to be tailored specifically to you. No two people are alike nor should your training plan be.

Before putting pen to paper, a good coach will first review your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals. This will not only level-set expectations, but also determine the best approach to your training plan and race session.

For the most part, the sport of running is simple and all training programs should include: endurance running, running specific strength training, hill/speed work, tempo and pace specific runs. Of course, not all athletes will train the same; ultra distance runners training will look significantly different than a 10k runner. The magic really lies in how and when to incorporate these workouts into an athlete’s schedule. But before you even get to that point, it is important that the athlete has a strong foundation.

With athletes newer to marathon training or for injury prone athletes, I recommend starting 26 weeks out from their goal race. This provides the adequate time needed to build a strong foundation before entering the base building phase. 26 weeks also allows some leeway for unforeseen sickness, family and business obligations which tend to impact most recreational runners.

I also like to utilize this “prep-phase” to help athletes develop a feel for running and their cadence and tempo. This is something I see missing in so many runners’ training programs. By running on feel an athlete becomes in-tune with the rhythm of running at different paces which tends to lead to a more enjoyable and less injury prone season.

So, back to the question of what makes the ideal training plan… Answer is… one which is customized for you. A plan specifically tailored to make you a stronger athlete and adjust as your fitness and abilities development. Invest in yourself by hiring a coach; the investment is minimal in comparison to the time you will spend training without purpose.

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