Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gratuitous Running Advice, part 2: Making a Schedule

If you want to stick to a regular schedule when you're beginning running, it's a lot easier if you make an advance plan of what your schedule is going to be. Here's what I've done since I restarted running a couple of weeks ago.

Firstly, decide how many times a week you want to go running. I'd say twice is probably the minimum if you want to make reasonable progress, and six times is the maximum - you need to have at least one rest day a week, since it's when you're resting that your body improves its fitness. Then plan which days you're actually going to go. I've decided on four times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, all first thing in the morning.

Secondly, decide roughly what weekly mileage you want to aim at. The key thing here is to start low and increase gradually - your aim is to get fit while avoiding getting injured. There is a great variety of injuries you can get whilst running, and other than road rash and dog bites, they are mostly caused by doing too much too soon. A reasonable distance to start with is as far as you could comfortably walk in half an hour. For my first week I decided on a total of 10km (6 miles), so about 2.5km (1.5 miles) per outing. After that, you can increase the distance by no more than 10% per week. In fact, compound interest being what it is, I decided 7.5% per week would be a bit more sustainable. You also need to decide how to split the distance between the different days - it can be a good idea to have a longer run on one day in the week. Since my time is more limited during the week, I've decided to have a longer run on Sundays.

Thirdly, plan your routes in advance. The last thing you want when you're heading out in the morning is to be dithering about where you're going. The extremely useful Gmaps Pedometer is your friend here - you can measure routes round your neighbourhood to the nearest few metres. But you don't need to worry about running the exact distance on the schedule - a reasonable approximation will do.

Finally, don't give up on your schedule if you miss an outing or two for whatever reason. Either carry on regardless of the missed outings, or skip back a week.


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