Vary in your training

Vary in your training

Last week we gave the floor to Walter van Gelderen , 80 years and full of ambitions. He gave some valuable learning points from his running career. Walter said that before his 60th birthday, he jogged the same round twice a week. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself. Exercise is healthy. Running is fun. You are outdoors and you enjoy the surroundings. And after showering you feel fit and you sit on the couch with a satisfied feeling or full of energy back at your desk.

For a lot of runners this is enough. But if you do what you always did, you get what you always got. You’re not going to become a better runner. With the same round at the same pace, boredom can also strike and the pleasure of running can gradually disappear. Targeted varied training is the solution.

How do you vary your training?

The possibilities to bring variety to your training are manifold. For example, think of a number of different routes, longer and shorter, nice in the forest, over the heath or along meadows. You will then see different landscapes slowly changing with the seasons.

Whatever route you run, there are Strava segments everywhere, short and long. On one of those Strava segments, you hit the gas. In Strava you can see afterwards what your time is like this time compared to the previous times you ran the segment.

Another option is to join a running group or an athletics club. You can run at your own level there. One or two joint workouts a week are a stick behind the door to go. You don’t have to think about variation in your training. The trainer will do that for you. And it’s fun. You get to know new people who at least have the pleasure of running in common with you. If you have time for more workouts in a week, the trainer has tips or a training plan for you.

Training plans

They are often very intelligent, the training plans of your running group or athletics association.

Hans and Ron are members of the Amersfoort athletics club Altis. For each calendar day, 7 days a week, there is a training. The paces in your training are related to the time you run on the 10 K. This way you don’t run below or above your level.

Most runners cannot train 7 days a week. That’s not wise for everyone either. That is why Altis’s schedule shows which workouts you can drop if you can only train 6, 5, 4 or 3 times a week.

The program is not the same all year round. In the race period, the plan takes a bit of gas back to be fresher at the start of a race. This is also the case during the rest period. In the build-up period you do more. Periodizing throughout the year and training specifically for a particular race brings variety and helps you become a better runner.

A plan helps many runners across the threshold to put on their running shoes. Simply because according to your schedule you “have to” do a certain training that day. Of course, you don’t have to do anything, but once you start a plan, you will find that the structure helps you.

The plan should suit you

Walter van Gelderen had the feeling about a certain plan that sometimes he had to run so slowly that he almost fell over. At other training sessions he had to run so fast that he invariably soured up.

We allow him to run the slow paces a bit faster if he feels comfortable with that.

Remember that the slow pace does have a function. Don’t go too much faster otherwise the training for the goal will have too little effect. The fast paces should be a little slower. The difference between your minimum and maximum heart rate may be smaller than others. This is a discussion point with your trainer. It can help make your plan more tailored to your needs.

On another plan, Walter felt like he was running four races in a week. That worked out well for him. But of course, this is also not good in general. You run the risk of getting injured. Recovery training is much needed for everyone.

Plans are plentiful available

On the internet you can find running plans in abundance, and free, for example, the websites of retailers as Run2Day  and Runnersworld. Paid versions can be found, for example, at ProRun, in TrainingPeaks and at

TrainingPeaks has the advantage that you can let a coach watch what you perform remotely. Not free but useful if you do not have the opportunity to join a running group or association. Sports doctor and trainer Guido Vroemen is one of those people who can offer you this.

With a Stryd footpod, the coach is literally on your shoe. The data that Stryd running power meter generates during your workouts and races automatically adjusts your plan if needed. If you get better or if you have a lesser period. We are convinced this approach is the future.

What elements should be in a plan?

Depending on what you want to achieve, plans differ. In our free ebook The easiest way to a PR: Running with Power (in Dutch, English edition is in progress) this is explained, even if you train not on power but on heart rate.

In the table below we have summarized the possible training goals of the elements in a training. In a good plan you will find a mix of all listed training forms. FTP stands for functional threshold power- the wattage you can sustain for an hour running. HRmax is your maximum heart rate.

Our book ‘The Secret of Running’ is for sale in our webshop. Also available in German as ‘Das Geheimnis des Laufens’, and in Italian as ‘Manuale completo della corsa’