There is no best training schedule.
What there is, is better or worse plans based on your unique work/life schedule, fitness level, and needs.
The best training plan should follow the runner, and that most likely means a personal coach. If this is not an option for you, a training plan will be a good choice. Whether this is one out of a book that you follow or a self-made plan, again, the best one is going to optimally fit your schedule and abilities.
If you need ideas on how to format, remember these are rough guidelines. You can and should customize them to fit your needs. For example, higher mileage runners may need less full days off and lower mileage runners can change short distance run days for full rest days.
Coach of Hudson Elite Athletes and author of Run Faster, Brad Hudson also works with amateur runners through the Hudson Community Athlete program where he writes training for runners and pairs them with one of his elite athletes for mentorship.
In his book, Run Faster, Hudson uses a fairly standard format throughout his training plans, and it is one you can replicate and personalize yourself.
A rough guide to his weekly format looks like this:
- M: Off or short run, possibly strides.
- T: Medium distance quality workout
- W: Medium distance, easy.
- Th: Short or medium distance. Possibly strides.
- F: Med distance. Easy with strides or a quality workout.
- S: Short & easy run
- S: Long, almost always a progression
Director of the Boulder Running Camps, if you’ve heard of Jay, it’s probably because of his ancillary training videos on Youtube. He focuses a great deal on high school athletes, but also works as a coach with athletes of all ages and abilities.
For most amateur athletes he’s a big fan of 5 days of running weekly, 2 days off, and only 2 hard sessions during this week. He likes to do a long run and an aerobic power workout most weeks. A rough guide to how he formats a week looks like:
- M: Off
- T: Easy medium distance with strides
- W: Aerobic Power (tempo, track workout, etc)
- Th: Medium/longer distance, easy
- F: Off
- S: Easy medium distance, strides
- S: Long Run
If you’re a triathlete, and specifically an active member (or at least lurker) of the Slowtwitch triathlon forums, it’s not unlikely you’ve seen discussion threads asking about the Berry P plan.
If you want to spend some time reading through the discussion, here are the threads. The basis behind his running plan is that he breaks the weekly volume in to 10% chunks and distributes them throughout the week as such:
- M: 10% of the weekly volume
- T: 20%
- W: 10%
- Th: 20%
- F: 10%
- S: 30%
- S: Off
So if you’re running 40 miles weekly, your week may look like:
- M: 4 easy, with strides
- T: 8 miles, maybe a track workout
- W: 4 miles, regeneration run
- Th: 8 miles, possibly a tempo run
- F: 4 miles, regeneration run
- S: 12 miles, long run, possibly with progression
- S: Off
For those running less than 30 miles weekly, the three shortest running days may be too short and you may want to take a short run day, make if a rest day, and put those miles elsewhere. For athletes running more than 60 miles weekly, they may want to occasionally take some of the longer run days and distribute the miles among the shorter runs or incorporate doubles into the schedule to prevent having too many very long long runs. A weekly 18 miler while running 60 miles per week is probably ok for most athletes, but any longer than a weekly 20 miler may be too much for those running more volume.
Do you have a type of weekly format you like to stick with?