What do you really need from a training plan?

I’m running the Boudavida Windsor Women’s 10k on the 23rd September, along with my mum (more on that in another post!) and thought it was time we talked about training and how it should be done (in theory) Unfortunately Kate isn’t able to join, which I know she is GUTTED about as she loves running! 😏

Whether it’s your first 10k or your 40th (I’ve just realised I haven’t raced a 10k since January 2015!) or you’re doing any distance – there are some things that really should be core part of any plan. OBVIOUSLY, you don’t have to do these all in a week because I’ve tried that and it’s really hard. If you’re pretty new to running still, you might want to give yourself more time before bringing in some of the faster paced work.

Still spaces available for the run if you fancy a blast round Windsor Great Park! (Disclaimer here in that my place is a provided press place – my mum entered all of her own accord.

Easy runs

All too easy to forget – but seriously good for you in terms of general cardiovascular fitness and recovery,  These I find are actually the hardest to do – I really struggle to slow down, particularly because when I’m running near other people as I am FAR too competitive and don’t like people running faster than me. Never run near me on Embankment because it WILL be a race. Using a HR monitor helps a bit, as well as running with people who you know will keep you to task.

Did you know that 70% of your weekly mileage should be easy? That’s a pretty big chunk – so not something to forget.


The stuff that feels a bit hard. You’re not going all out, you can still hold a bit of a conversation, but it’s not steady pace and it definitely isn’t easy – you can keep going, but you also wouldn’t mind if you could stop.

The distance and pace will depend on what you’re training for, but, for example, 10 minutes warm up at an easy pace, then 20 minutes at “10k pace + 30 seconds” and a 10 minute cool down.

I find tempo ALWAYS feels harder than race day and constantly have to reassure myself post tempo session that it isn’t all going down the toilet. This is a good one to find a fast person to run with as they’ll keep you on track.


Also feels a bit hard. In theory, it feels a bit easier than tempo because you get breaks in between, but in actual fact, you are running faster so it definitely feels harder. You can do it at the track, or you can find a stretch of ground which feels a decent length and doesn’t involve you crossing roads at full pelt without looking. Oh, and also, try and avoid other people as they’ll get in your way – and by that, I mean, don’t try it on the canal near Angel at 8am because you will get REALLY annoyed.

One thing here to remember is not to go out at 200% – you should be able to complete all the reps in a similar time, not do 3 fast and then die. And if you find a plan that says “@5k pace”, there is a reason it says that. You are not supposed to just ignore what it says and go as fast as you can because it will be hard, and you will hate it.


You may want to include specific hill sessions, or you may just happen to live somewhere where you can’t avoid them. You can vary time/pace/intensity/rest – world is your oyster! By the looks of things, the Windsor 10k is NOT flat. Not hugely hilly, but definitely something I need to think about.

Proving that any hill counts for training…


a.k.a. strength and conditioning. If you’re injury/accident prone and your physio has given you exercises, DO THEM. Your S&C work may be anything from core to a full blown weights session. Kettlebells, tyre flipping, squats – they all contribute to a stronger run.


Stretch stretch stretch! Don’t forget it. You know the drill, there’s a reason why it’s always drummed into you. Take a yoga class, get yourself on the foam roller – but I would always make sure you give yourself 5 minutes at the end of each run to focus on some quality stretching. This NHS guide does the job for the basics if you are totally clueless about stretching. I’ve recently realised that I have really no shame and am totally cool with hanging off the railings outside my office in all sorts of contortions.


You can’t run all day every day (unfortunately) Mixing up your training and adding in another form of cardio prevents the same muscles and joints from being hammered day in day out – and it keeps your mind fresh and active as well. Most people will use cycling, swimming or the crosstrainer, but I like to also add in netball and touch rugby (both poor examples of cross-training as they also all involve running)


Take some time to chill out. Sleep well, take a day off here and there and let your mind wander. Just FYI, a “rest day” doesn’t mean walking for miles and miles and miles, sometimes your legs really do need a break. I’ve learnt through practice what works for me in terms of volume – I can’t run 50+ mile weeks because my body just doesn’t like it; adjust your training for you. Sometimes you do just need more than a day’s rest so listen to what your body is telling you.


I ran a 12 mile trail race at the weekend because, guess what – I wanted to. Nope it didn’t really fit with plan, nope, I’ve not really been running any distance but you know what, it was rainy, muddy, hilly and I LOVED IT! It was also a nice reminder that I can actually still run that distance despite not having done any training. If you don’t inject some fun into your plan (whether that’s going with friends, hitting parkrun, doing an obstacle race), it can pretty quickly become tedious.

Anything else you always make sure you think about?


4 thoughts on “What do you really need from a training plan?

  1. I ran this race last year & it was a lovely course but starts with a hill, which was my idea of hell!
    I know you’ll ace it though – Enjoy the Meridain bar after! We are at the HM on Sunday, wish me luck! X


  2. I really need to take note of this! I managed to get myself into what I thought was a ‘proper’ running routine earlier this year, which resulted in new 5k and 10k pbs (yay!). However what I was doing was basically just running at the same speed all the time, going a little bit further than before without needing to stop for a breather… In hindsight, not sensible – I ended up with a left shin stress fracture 😦
    Rehab involved shorter and slower runs, and I’m really starting to appreciate their usefulness now


    • Ah I feel your pain! Literally had exactly the same thing – and it was just from pushing myself too much and not doing enough at an easy pace. It works for a while and then your body just can’t cope and I’ve learnt that I can’t run 50 mile weeks, no matter what anyone else does! Are you all recovered and back to full fitness now?


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