Follow these basic principles to create a training plan that can deliver
In this article, we’ll give you some simple tips and outline guidance on the overall structure that you can create for your training plan and then you can adapt it to work for you. We won’t go into the specifics of training (that’s for you to establish depending on your fitness and personal situation) this is more a guiding framework to build on.
1. Have a goal
When you’re setting out to create your first Sport Walking training plan, the key to success is to be clear what you’re training for – is it for an event, a personal challenge, a fitness goal or do you just need some structure to keep you focussed?
Whatever your objective, you’ll want to understand the timescale you’re working to and to start at the end point and work back. What do you need to be able to do at a given point in time and, then, what work do you need to do to achieve that?
Be clear about your ability and fitness at the start point, so that you have a really clear picture of exactly how much progress you need to make to achieve your goal. Then, simply plan the activities and increase in strength, pace or distance you need to achieve within the given timescale.
2. Be realistic
Whatever your objective, chances are you’ll be constrained by work and family life, so setting out a plan that’s achievable is vital – you don’t want to get frustrated or disillusioned because you’re workload is unrealistic. Remember, it’s better to do some training than none at all, so start with shorter sessions than you think you can accommodate and then increase duration if you have enough time.
It’s vital to give yourself enough time to train for your goal, so lets say six months training for an Ultra or maybe three months to sharpen up for a faster time if you’re already fit and walking a lot.
If you’re simply setting up a plan to help you build training into your day to day routine, then obviously you won’t have a fixed goal in mind. In this case, you need to just concentrate on establishing frequent and fixed sessions and building up your workload gradually.
3. Keep it simple
A good start point is to do one long walk and then three shorter sessions of up to an hour each.
Your long walk could be on the weekend and it should be off road with a good mix of terrain. Walk briskly and purposefully but not flat out – this is about working hard but always being comfortable from start to finish. The point of this session is to increase your endurance. Try to go for two hours minimum and up to a maximum of four hours initially but you can increase duration as you progress.
For the weekday sessions, make one an hour long steady walk, another a 5k speed session at your top speed and then the third would be a hill session.
4. Climb for strength
If you don’t live near hills, find a steep ramp or steps somewhere and do hill repeats, going up and down for maybe ten or twenty times, depending how long the section is. Push as hard as you can going up and recover going down and once you’re at the bottom, go straight up again with no rest.
The first time you do this, go easier than you think you need to, so you can complete at least ten reps without stopping, then just increase your speed on subsequent sessions.
This will give you a basic training program that will help you make gains and also keep your walking fresh, if you pick different locations for each long walk. For your weekday walks if you just walk the same streets that doesn’t matter.
5. Use tech & learn from your data
The essential thing is to take a sporting approach, so log every session and study your data to understand your pace and how you felt in relation to that pace. You need to be learning from your training, not simply doing the work.
Sport Walking is all about using sport science to help you walk faster, further and more efficiently, so right from your first session make sure you track your distance, time, speed and pace (if you can).
Use a smart phone app like Strava (join our Strava club to see Roger’s training data) or one of the other training apps out there and you’ll begin to understand where you’re at and see how you’re improving.
The most important thing though is to get your plan fixed in your diary and to map out sessions in advance, to meet your objectives. If you simply decide how far and how fast to walk each session, all you’re doing is getting some exercise. Plan your training and you will very quickly start to make gains and see how the structure is actually helping you improve.