Make a date with your training diary
In Week 2, you’ll vary your route and speed, and keep track of your running routine
Add variety to your runs by running on different surfaces: grass, sand and trail can all make a pleasant change from a footpath. Photograph: Thinkstock
We are now in Week 2 of our Get Running: Stay on Track programme. I hope you managed to get out for your three runs last week. If it was your first time to lace up your running shoes for a while, you will most certainly have felt it tougher than usual. I promise it will get easier if you stick with the routine.
If you struggle with any week’s training, repeat that week’s training until you can complete the sessions comfortably. There is no rule that you have to complete the programme in eight weeks, so be sure to work at your own pace. If you wish to spread the training out over a longer time, that’s no problem.
Last week I suggested you track the distance of your run. Most of you will be running somewhere between 3.5km and 5km for the 30-minute run. A few of you may be faster, and please don’t worry if you are slower.
Tracking it last week was a way to find out how far you are covering so you can compare this with later weeks in the programme. Never compare yourself with someone else. You should be competing only with yourself.
I know it might sound a little tedious but it is one of the factors that will contribute greatly to your success at sticking to a running routine. A training diary will help you stay accountable to your runs and watch your progress over time. It acts as a great motivator and, with time, a wonderful read, allowing you to see how far you have come.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Write down everything you did last week in your training, and plan ahead for this week.
Make a decision about the provisional days and times you are going to train this week. Treat each scheduled run in your training diary as if it’s a diary appointment with a friend. Treat your run as something that is non-negotiable.
It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of a run if we are not accountable. Commit to getting out three times; and commit on paper.
Have a look out this week for some upcoming 5km events or parkruns coming up in your area. Parkrun is a fantastic initiative with free 5km events every Saturday morning all around the country.
Include these provisional dates in your training diary as well. I would love you to attempt one at the end of Week 4 and then at the end of Week 8, to see your progress.
Apart from just writing about your running, you are going to have to get out there again this week for another three runs. And this week I would like to introduce a little speed work.
Aim to pick up your pace for the last three minutes of your run.
Most of us have one pace we run at. It’s fantastic to challenge the body by varying the pace, but don’t overdo it. It is not meant to be a full sprint; but just when you are within a few minutes of finishing, run a little bit faster.
We will integrate more speed training in the coming weeks. But for now, just experiment with the change in pace, and see how the body feels when you move your pace to a quicker one than you are used to.
Speed is the first step of adding variety to our runs in this programme. Variety is the key to keeping your running interesting and to making you stronger.
If you keep doing the same run at the same pace in the same location, your body will get used to it and your training will stagnate.
There are lots of other ways to add variety to the run.
Firstly, change your route around. It can be as simple as reversing your normal route, or trying somewhere completely different.
You could also try running on different surfaces: grass, sand and trail can all make a pleasant change from a footpath.
Thirdly, I find that running with someone else makes a huge difference. If I know I’m meeting someone, I’ll go as I can’t make any excuses.
For one run a week, find someone else who would like to go with you; maybe even one of your kids on a bike. In the coming weeks, we will be adding lots of variety to your running routine. Get Running: Stay on Track is designed for people who can run for 25-30 minutes nonstop and would like to do that three times a week and to get stronger over the distance. To sign up to this, or to any of our running courses, and to receive our weekly training plans, see irishtimes.com/ getrunning. You can also keep up with us on facebook.com/irishtimesrunning, @IrishTimesRun and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our live Q&A will be on Monday, September 29th, from 5pm to 6pm. If you have any questions relating to running, please log in to irishtimes.com/getrunning then. You can email questions in advance to email@example.com and we will answer them during the liveblog.