How to Make a Training Schedule for Running That Fits You


Some of my many running books.

How I made my schedule in the past:

1. Buy many running books looking for magic tips on how to run.

2. Put running books on shelf in library dedicated to running books.

3. Dust off books (trying to figure out who you lent the missing ones to).

4. Ask your running friends what schedule they are using.

5. Use whichever running friends’ schedule sounds easiest…

So, my approach has kind of worked in the past, but I’m hoping to do a better job this year. I’d like to get a PB in a half marathon this fall. So, I dusted off my running books again. I figured out where the missing one is (it’s okay Tab – I don’t need that one). Then I started looking at the training programs and comparing them to what has worked for me in the past.

I’ve tried running 5-6 days a week, like the programs in the book “Running” by Jim Stanton, and although I got good results as far as time, I ended up with injuries and I wore myself out. Mainly I think this is because I am now an over 40 runner.  What I did like about it was that it was very structured, and I need that or I slack off. Last year I tried programs from the Runner’s World “Run Less Run Faster ” book. I liked this program because you do 3 key runs a week, which is great for my old lady body. The speedwork workouts were really effective, but if there was any workout I would ever skip, it would be that one because, well, they are hard. I was also supposed to do cross training two other days, but I’m not a swimmer, or a biker, or a rower, so I kind of failed at that part of it. I think it is a very effective program – and a couple of my friends use it and really like it, however, I think I need something a little different.

So, what’s my plan for this year?

Well, I purchased a book in the last couple of years called “Run Faster, From the 5k to the Marathon” – how to be your own best coach. It talks about “adaptive running” and finding out what works for you.  After looking into it again, frankly, I decided I needed to stop being lazy and take the time to do a specific plan that works for me.

The book has many training plans, most that include 6 days a week of running, and it has a large section dedicated to schedules to get your Boston Marathon qualifying time. Near the back of the book, however, I found a chapter on “Adaptive Running for Youth and Masters Runners”.  There was a 10k training schedule that had 3 runs a week, a day of cross training (I can perhaps hike, bike or do a fun trail run) 3 days of core work and a day off. I combined this schedule with their Intermediate level Half Marathon training schedule by swapping out the long runs in the 10k training for the long runs in the Half Marathon training. I also decided to add a session of Yoga on two of the Core workout days. I already have my favorite yoga video picked out:

Now I just need a core strengthening workout…


A sample page of my training schedule.

The 3 main reasons why I think this plan will work for me are:

  1. The 3 key runs are incorporated, but they are varied. There are long runs, progression runs, anaerobic hill intervals, ladder workouts, threshold runs, speed intervals, fartlek  and specific-endurance intervals.  Having variety in my workouts makes me dread them less. If I can’t anticipate the pain, it doesn’t feel as bad. 🙂
  2. I have a detailed plan with all my workouts penciled in every day. Having my core workouts and yoga planned along with my runs makes it more likely that they’ll get done. That’s just how I am, I love checking things off… I NEED to check things off…
  3. The idea of “adaptive running” includes knowing when you should switch out one workout for another. If you wake up feeling terrible, then your long run or speedwork won’t be very productive. Alternatively, waking up in the mood for a big workout and only doing a core session isn’t productive either. This training method encourages you to be comfortable with rearranging your runs when necessary as long as you get it all in. This is good for me, because I normally end up feeling like I failed if I don’t do things when my plan says to do them.

The bottom line is, there are many great books out there and many great training plans. I would recommend all 3 of the books I mentioned above. But, by taking into consideration your personality, your past experience and your abilities, you can – with a little work – devise a plan that is perfect for you and find your true running potential.

You can figure out how to be your own coach and, perhaps, run faster than you ever thought possible! (that’s the plan anyways 🙂 )

SO… what training schedules or tips have you benefited from. And does anyone know of a good YouTube video for core strengthening they can recommend?




25 thoughts on “How to Make a Training Schedule for Running That Fits You

  1. I love that book – Run Faster – I used it for years. My ultimate favorite is “Advanced Marathoning” by Pete Pfitzinger, but I currently have a coach. I might go back to coaching myself – I am giving my coach through my next marathon to see. I went to him injured and then got injured during my time working with him…it’s been a saga. For core work, I love the Nike Training Club app on my phone – there are 5-45 minute workouts and they are free. Some require some equipment, some don’t. It’s great!

  2. I’m TERRIBLE with following a running plan. I’ve tried several times and the closest I ever got was training for the Dopey Challenge – I stuck with hit about 69% of the time, which is good for me. I like the adaptive running approach!

  3. Looks like you’ve got some good ideas for reaching your PB goal! I’m a masters runner, too, and I’m using “Run Faster, From the 5k to the Marathon” for ideas on making my own marathon plan. I like to use Coach Jay Johnson’s Core H vimeo video for core work.

  4. Check out they have some fabulous work out videos, never tried and core specific ones myself since I’m a baby and run crying away from dedicated core work lol but I’ve done a few of their videos in the past and they’re amazing.

  5. Great post! The self-deprecation was hilarious. Well done.

  6. Great post!! I completely agree with checking things off of lists—training logs/schedules are 100% necessary for keeping me on track too! I love being able to check things off 🙂

  7. My last two half marathon cycles have been running only three times a week. I never thought that would be sufficient but it has kept my healthy, my main goal. I also made sure to do 1-2 days of biking or swimming this last cycle and I improved my time by about 10 minutes. Now I’d like to get closer to my PR time of just under 2 hours and I’m currently debating if I need to add more runs, or make them longer, or make the type of run more focused. I’m not sure. I’m thinking I can run a bit more as long as I don’t sacrifice the cross training.

    • According to my research (and what I experienced), 3 runs a week can be enough (especially since you are doing the cross training) as long as they are the right kind of runs. Quality is key. You need a workout including speedwork and/or hills, a tempo run and a long slow run. My schedule is a variation of that – you can see in my sample page. Your training sounds really well-rounded so far. I hope you find what works for you. I’d love to hear back about it.

  8. Reblogged this on the5krunner and commented:

  9. This is great because I am thinking about changing my plan for my half marathon training in the fall. I have been following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate training plan, well sorta and it was great for last year, but this year, I just haven’t been performing as well as I’d like. I will check out the books you mentioned! Thanks for sharing!!

  10. I like your training plan! Plans overwhelm me so I work with a running coach, but I still struggle with when to do my cross training (which I do skip more often than not 😦 ). I can’t imagine running 6 days a week!

  11. For strength workouts including core I like the SWORKIT app. It has a ton of great workouts. I too am working on figuring out cross training since I don’t swim, bike, or hike. Lately I’ve been using yoga and Pilates as substitutes. I’m going to have to try the yoga video you posted. Hope it’s beginner friendly.

    • Thanks, I downloaded the SWORKIT app, I’m looking forward to trying it. It’s hard cross training when you don’t do any of the other options! That yoga video is geared toward runners, so the yoga moves aren’t difficult, but it is for strength training, so you get a great workout from it along with the stretching. I hope you like it. 🙂

  12. I really like that yoga workout. Thanks for sharing it. I tend to make plans from several sources as well and adapt them to fit my life. Happy training!

  13. Brilliant blog, really enjoyed reading this. I’m currently doing the same myself, wanting to get a sub 1.25 half marathon in September. I’m doing the same approach as you talk about here. I get 3 main runs in, and the day of each one can change depending on how I feel and how busy I am. I think it’s a lot easier if you are flexible with your training programme. I’m also not as young as I used to be, but we’ll not go into those details now… Great work, I’ll be following how you get on.. Best of luck 🙂

  14. I think I have read all the books you listed! For my last marathon I made my own plan and it worked out well. All the options out there can be overwhelming!

  15. […] other day a fellow runner commented on my blog post about How to Make a Training Schedule That’s Right For You. He mentioned that I might want to check out the book Meb For Mortals. I did, and I have been […]

  16. […] If you’re one of those runners that’s still trying to figure out how to get yourself to that Half Marathon distance.  Not to worry!  Out Running Blog can help you figure out a Training Schedule for Running That Fits You.  […]

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