Top tips to developing a regular training rhythm and routine

BHM Bournemouth mass runners

Unless you are a world class or elite runner your training should fit into your life comfortably rather than your life fitting around your training. A training-life balance is crucial if you are going to stick with your running for the long term. Here are our top tips to getting the balance right.

Have a plan - In order to get full satisfaction from your running you need to know where you are now and where you want to be.  Your training should be heading towards a target, whether that is a time in a race, a distance covered or a target weight. The training load should then gradually increase towards it and should have a taper at the end. That would be the long-term plan. You should also build in medium or short-term goals along the way and then structure your training into blocks. For example, if you are aiming to achieve a time in a race you may first build up the distance you can cover to 10km and schedule in a couple of 10k races along the way to check that you are on track. Once you have achieved that you may work on your speed and schedule in a few 5km races to get your body used to setting off faster and turning your legs over more quickly. For best advice on planning a programme you should get yourself along to a running club. Depending on where you are based, you could join an  England RunTogether  jogscotlandRun NI or  Run Wales group where a qualified coach or leader will be able to guide you.

If this is not feasible you could use one of our short-term programmes or use our Training Wizard for advice.

Build in recovery - Recovery is arguably the most important part of training as this in when the adaptation to training takes place. You train and then you recover so that you can get the most out of your next training session. Recovery days should be scheduled after hard training days but you should also respect your body’s need to recover after other stressful situations too. If you have a particularly busy time at work or a lot going on at home you should plan your training around it and to allow for recovery both mentally and physically. This could be ‘active’ recovery ie training very lightly or full relaxation.

 Keep a lid on it - Once you have your plan you need to stick to it and only change it if you need to back off. You should resist putting in extra training sessions or making the sessions harder than planned. The programme will have been structured carefully to ensure that you don’t over-train and risk illness or injury. When things are going well and you are on a high with your running it can be all too easy to get carried away but the last thing you want is to then be struck down with injury and frustration at not being able to stay with your programme.

Get into a routine - Training becomes easy once it is habit and the best way to do that is to get into a rhythm with your week. If you have joined a club or a group this will help as the group will meet at set times during the week for key sessions or longer runs. 

A typical week could be:

  • Monday           –                      rest
  • Tuesday           –                      7pm key session
  • Wednesday     –                      6.30pm gentle run followed by gym work
  • Thursday         –                      7pm key session
  • Friday              –                      rest
  • Saturday          –                      9am parkrun
  • Sunday             –                      9am long run


Allow for the bad days - Now let’s get real. It’s not all going to go to plan. There will be days when you feel more tired or lethargic than others, days of illness, tired or sore muscles or unexpected appointments. How often do you think they will occur? Make an educated guess by considering when these things have happened in the past. If you have been running for a while and kept a training diary you can look back at the evidence. If you are new to running you should have a long and hard think about when these things tend to happen in life. Once you have come up with a figure you should factor this in to your expectations. It may be that you need to make your programme one week longer to give yourself a bit of a cushion for when these occurrences come about. If you need to take time out of your programme or miss some of the sessions you shouldn’t then try to make up for lost time. You have to accept that you were unable to do them and then get back onto the programme where you left off if it has only been a small blip. If you had to have a long time off you may need to go back in the programme to then build up again. By giving yourself a bit of a cushion you are less likely to have to abandon the programme altogether.

Get your priorities right - Your running needs to fit into your life rather than the other way around but you may need to make small adjustments to your lifestyle in order to achieve your running goals. Lifestyle choices such as food and sleep need to be complement your training. Your food is fuel and your sleep is recovery and your running will only improve if you respect this.