By Laura Barreca PT, DPT
Creating a running schedule for the year is a challenge. When is it right to take a break? How do I navigate multiple races in one year? How often should you run a marathon? These are all great things to be thinking about and we are here to help you create the best running schedule for you!
What is too much?
Let’s start with what is too much? Running continuously throughout the entire year with no breaks (or “down weeks”) is too much. This is often when injuries pop up. When creating your racing schedule, the best method is to separate it into different training cycles. This means, running for a 12-20 week time frame followed by a period of no running. Yes, I said no running at all. People are often shocked by this, but it is incredibly important to have breaks in your training cycle. When continuously running, your body never gets the chance to reset and recover, allowing you to make the strength gains that are necessary in becoming a stronger runner. If you played sports in high school or college, I sometimes like to relate this to seasons, where you had a period of time off following each season.
These training cycles or “seasons”, can be adjusted surrounding what races you are signed up for. Sometimes, the hardest part is signing up, so choose a race and put it on your running calendar (click here for a guide on how to start running)! For example, in the New York City world of running, you can break a training cycle up into fall marathon season followed by spring half marathon season or vice versa. This can be structured around whatever distances you enjoy. A nice example of a periodized cycle would be starting training in June/July and moving through the months of October/November, followed by at LEAST 1 week of no running. After this cycle is complete, you can move into the next cycle starting in the November/December months and going through to April/May followed by yes, you guessed it, ANOTHER 1 week to 2 weeks off of running. This helps prevent injuries and keeps your body healthy while continuing to become a better runner.
How often should you run a marathon?
The question of how often you should run a marathon is not a simple one. This answer can be one marathon a year, up to multiple marathons a year, and as little as one marathon every few years. The answer to this question is completely dependent on the individual, their prior training history, injury history, and goals with each of these upcoming races. The best way to break this down is by having a professional create a running schedule for you in which you can have the cycles periodized with periods of time for growth.
Overall, it is difficult to create the best running schedule but with guided help, you can have the perfect training plan for you aimed towards successfully achieving your goals!
By Laura Barreca PT, DPT