It can be difficult to find the right running training plan to suit your level of fitness and your specific goals. What should you be looking for in a running training plan?

And should your plan include things like hill repeats, interval sessions and track/speed sets?

That’s exactly what we have a look at in this article:

Understanding Training Program Structure

Many runners wonder what makes a good training program. They may question whether their plan includes all the necessary elements for success.

Essentially, any programme that is slower than 2:15 for a half marathon or slower than 4 hours for the marathon will have very little speed work or hill work. And the reason for that is actually, there’s quite a simple explanation – and that’s whenever I work with people, when I get questions from people, and we interact with people at the expos and so forth.

The biggest mistake most people make is that they run too hard, too often. So the majority of my programmes, especially those that have been used by just the general population, or that are available for download, they force people to run easy, essentially force people to do almost all of their training at lower than 80% of threshold. And that’s the fancy way of saying it’s extremely easy. In fact, it can feel a little bit boring at times.

But the reason that I do that is because I can then confidently and comfortably know that anyone following my programmes is developing an extremely strong, strong aerobic capacity. In other words, their ability to exercise for a very long period of time will be extremely high.

And whether we’re trying to race a 5k, 10k, 21k, or even longer, that is actually our most important energy system, is that body’s ability to produce energy from using the oxygen that we’re breathing in.

The Importance of Aerobic Capacity

A strong aerobic foundation is key to long-term running success. By prioritizing easy-paced runs, typically slower than 80% of the threshold, runners develop exceptional endurance, crucial for races like marathons or half marathons.

Assessing Progress

One way to gauge improvement is by monitoring heart rate. As your heart rate decreases while maintaining the same pace, you’ll know your aerobic capacity is improving.

The one thing is that those very low and easy intensities, as you start to adapt, you should be running, initially, at those paces and a much lower heart rate. 

And then as the heart rate comes down, you know, the idea then is to actually push that pace up ever so slightly. And that will then show that you are able to run much more efficiently. 

So you’re running much faster, using exactly the same effort. So that’s quite an easy way that you can evaluate yourself while you’re training.

But also, there’s definitely a place in the programme to slot in a park run or to slot in a 10k race. 

And as you improve, you will get better at those distances. 

So for me, my staple programmes are typically four-day-a-week programmes. Obviously, as we start working with much faster athletes, we move into some five and then some six-day week programmes, but most of the programmes for the majority of the population, are four-day programmes. And we absolutely encourage that on at least two of those so-called ‘Rest days’ there is cross training taking place in the form of either strength training, swimming, elliptical, cycling, rowing, non-impact type of sports, which will also help to boost that aerobic capacity, but without the eccentric loading on the muscles, ligaments and tendons that running provides.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Incorporating Cross-Training

Cross-training activities like swimming or strength training complement running by improving overall fitness without adding stress to the body.

Building a Strong Foundation

Think of your training program as building a house. A solid aerobic foundation is essential before adding more intense workouts like speed work or hill repeats.

Faith in the Process

Commitment to the training process, even when it seems counterintuitive, often leads to the best results. Trust in the plan and remain consistent in your efforts.

Ready to Take Your Running to the Next Level?

Investing in a well-structured training program is crucial for maximizing your running potential. Ensure your plan prioritizes aerobic development and provides a balanced approach to training.
If you want to find out more about the Training Plans we have available, all you need to do is head over to all of our training plans here.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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