As the holiday’s get in full swing and the New Year approaches, this is the perfect time to look at the upcoming year and formulate a plan for success. Having a plan laid out serves several important purposes. Goal setting helps to give importance to what can otherwise become monotonous training; having a plan helps to build in variation on a week to week and month to month basis; and planning creates periods of rest to avoid overtraining, injury, and burnout.
Whether a goal involves running a certain distance, running a certain time, losing a certain amount of weight, or racing at a certain level, goal setting gives the day to day and week to week workouts purpose while keeping training interesting. Having a goal in mind can make it much easier to get out the door on days when motivation is low or the general day to day fatigue makes the couch more tempting than the open road. This is the time of year to figure out what is important to accomplish over the upcoming
In setting up an overall plan, break the season up to give variation to training. For example, January and February’s training may be designed to slowly increase weekly mileage after a short holiday break. March and April may include some consistent, faster running (tempo running) to prepare for a fast 10k the first of May. The summer time may be used to incorporate periods of shorter, faster running to break a 5k personal best, and the fall season may be the time for increasing mileage again to prepare for a half or full marathon in November.
The one key that is important to build into every training program is rest. Without rest, the body is at risk for injury and breakdown, while the mind is at risk for boredom and burnout. Rest allows for recovery from hard work, while allowing the body improved capacity for performance. General guidelines for rest include programming a down week every three to four weeks, and planning a one to two month period of decreased training every year.
By setting goals and adding variation to training, it is much easier to make consistent progress and improvement.