Planning & Tracking for Running Success

Like the thought of running but have no idea where to start? Or maybe you're a keen runner but have lost your mojo a little bit and are struggling to motivate yourself to get going again. I have some useful tips and methods to help you get organised and motivated to get your shoes on and find the fun in running!

Number 1: Workout Plan

At the start of each month, I sit down and plan out my exercise so I have a clear plan for what I am doing each day, have something to commit myself to and so I have the satisfaction of ticking something off every day!

Step 1: Initially, I will start off with a blank, monthly template like the one below. You can create this yourself by going into a word or presentation document and using the table feature or by printing your iCal or Google Calendar. I personally prefer to create my own and I will explain why later on in the blog post.

Step 2: So you've got your calendar layout, now it's time to sit down and work out your plan for the month. In this stage, I would consider if you want to set yourself any running challenges/goals to keep you motivated such as: run 100k in the month or beat my 5k PB (Personal Best) etc.

As runners, it is also important to put cross training and other workouts into your schedule to keep the body active in other areas. This could involve strength and conditioning workouts, yoga, walking, cycling, etc. Make sure to schedule in these as well throughout the weeks and month.

But most importantly, it is crucial to give yourself at least one rest day a week so your body can recover and make you stronger the following week. And by rest day, I mean sitting on the couch and not feeling guilty for doing no exercise at all.

Step 3: With all the above considered, I then like to draft out a plan of my month pen to paper first so I can get a feel for what my month could look like.

If you're a casual runner and like to just go out for a run without setting any goals on distance or time then the next section may not apply to you however if you're looking for a challenge in your running and wanting to become a keen runner then please carry on...

So say I have set myself a distance goal such as: running 100k in the month, I would first work out how many days a week I want to run and work out the rough distance I would need to do each week to work towards this goal. For example: running 4 times a week aka 16 times in the month would mean I would have to run roughly 6.25km per run to achieve this goal.

Remember you don't just have to go on a 3k run and run back. There are different activities you can do to spice up your runs and build your strength/endurance such as: intervals, hill runs, park runs, longer runs etc therefore meaning you could do 2 shorter runs and then increase your distance on other runs.

Once you've worked out your runs, now is a good time to think about your cross training activities. You could include these on the same day as your runs for example: running in the morning and going on a walk in the afternoon or on other days instead. Cross training activities don't need to feel daunting either, take your dog for a walk, cycle to the local shop etc. Try to make your cross training accessible and easy to achieve.

Including some workouts is also important when wanting to be a runner or to give yourself some variety. Some methods I use are doing YouTube video workouts such as: Joe Wicks or Chloe Ting, using Instagram for workout tutorials or getting involved with Instagram live workouts. Again, try not to make this too daunting by finding workouts that are 20 - 30 minutes in length. Also, if you have a garden, why not workout in the garden or walk to your local park to complete your workout and your cross training at the same time. Even in the current circumstances some of us still lead busy lives so making exercise accessible and less daunting is key to feeling motivated to complete your goals.

Step 4: Once I have completed my draft, I then go back into the template I have created on a presentation document and being to fill in the activities I would like to complete. The layout of my plan goes as follows:

Colour Coding - using colour to indicate the different activities I am doing, especially if I have two activities on the same day, makes the plan easier and more fun to read.

Challenge Table - if you've set up challenges for yourself such as running 100k in the month then I include this at the bottom and section out the distance per week e.g. 25k, 25k, 25k, 25k so that at the end of each week I can cross this off and make it more rewarding to see my goal a quarter complete then half complete as I moved through the month. I also like to put a little distance indicator at the end of each row to give me a pointer and guide to what distance I am wanting to complete per week.

Step 5: When completing the above I then print it off and put somewhere accessible, where I will be reminded each day to keep active and to take the opportunity each day to work towards my goals.

Disclaimer: please note that I am not a professional in fitness and health and am only providing advice based on my own personal experience. Everyone's fitness levels are different so I would recommend speaking to a health professional or a fitness expert if you would like to seek expert advice. Please also note that you can also amend this plan to suit your ability

Number 2: Strava

If you've been running for a little while then you may have heard of Strava however if you're new to running you may not of heard of this amazing app! Strava is like Facebook but for runners. You can track your runs, record your distance, time and pace and also plan your routes. Strava also tracks other activities such as: cycling, walking, workouts, yoga etc. Once completing your run, the app will upload your activity to your profile and it will track the distance you have run per week, month and overall for the year. You can also view other people's activities and similarly to Facebook, you can like and comment on their activity creating a supportive and encouraging sense of community.

Number 3: Routes

If you're like me and can sometimes find it daunting just heading out for a run and not knowing how far you're running or where you're going then why not start planning your routes? As mentioned above, I like to use Strava to plan my routes. Below I have included a step by step guide on how you can plan your route:

Open Strava -> Record Button (middle at the bottom of the screen) -> Amend your activity (middle button with a shoe icon) -> Click on the far left icon (two circles with a dotted line) -> Click the + button in the far right of the screen -> Click on the pencil on the far bottom right -> Begin to draw your route -> Once you've finished it will tell you the distance of that route -> You can then press done and save the route for future reference if you would like

Number 4: Gear

We've all heard this one before however sometimes it's nice to have a little reminder that organising your gear for the next morning or before your run will most likely make you more motivated to go out and run. Therefore, the night before lay out your running clothes (t-shirt, layers, running jacket, leggings, sports bra, shorts, socks etc), make sure your watch, phone or whatever you track your runs with is fully charged, if using a phone for music etc make sure your phone holder is out and ready, water bottle prepared and filled and trainers are ready to go. (I have included links to the gear shown below at the bottom of this post)

Once your kit is laid out it will make you more motivated to go out for your run in the morning. I don't know about you but if I see my kit laid out and I put off going for a run then I feel more guilty for not going.

Number 5: Community

During these uncertain times, it is unlikely you're able to run with a group of friends or a running group however if you've got a pair of head or earphones and a mobile device to make a phone call on then why not organise a virtual run with your friend? Setting a date and time with your friend will make you less likely to not go out for a run as you won't want to let your friend down.

Hopefully something from the above points has made you feel more motivated to either get out running or to help you plan your week/month better when it comes to fitting in exercise.

I would love to hear if you have set yourself any running challenges for the month of June! Let me know in the comments section :)

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instagram - @lifeful_lifestyle

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Running Gear Links:

Nike Sports Bra - no link available for this but I have included a link for other nike sports bras

Nike Running Top

Nike Running Leggings - no link available for this but I have included a link for other nike leggings

Apple Watch

Phone Holder

Water Bottle

Running Trainers