Five simple steps to creating your first training plan

If you have signed up to MDA’s 5km or 10km Run for Strength Fun Run in February 2017, CONGRATULATIONS!  Now it’s time to get yourself fit and ready for the run!

This first few weeks can be the most exciting part, but it is also the most important to get right.  You want to start positively and set up a solid and realistic plan for your training that will allow you to gather momentum and gradually edge you towards your goal.  As a coach, unfortunately I see the following frustrating scenario quite often.

There is a nervous excitement at signing up for your race.  It might be the furthest you have ever run, you might be taking on the challenge as a family, but whatever your reasons, you want to do it well and use it as motivation to get fitter and healthier.

You know what you want the end result to be, but you aren’t really sure how to train in order to get there, other than full throttle, at 100km per hour.  So you just start…   You go to the gym or for your first training run. The initial enthusiasm takes you through the first 2 weeks of training and then the combination of being time poor, lack of structure, sometimes lacking confidence and being overloaded with training options, means it is difficult to know where you go from here.

At that point, it’s almost like you are the rabbit caught in the headlights…. stuck, frozen, not knowing which way to turn.  There is so much information out there about how best to train, what to eat, whether to go to the gym or not etc.  This leaves you petty confused and you feel like you are losing momentum and slipping back where you started.

I REALLY don’t want this to happen to you.

So…Lets cut to the chase….Where do you start and how do you begin to create momentum in your training?

Start with where you are at.  At this stage you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, but you do have to be honest.  Let’s keep things simple.  You need a plan to get you from here to race day.  I am going to walk you through the basics of setting up your own training plan that will set you off on the right foot…

Step One – Grab a piece of paper (or a calendar) and a pen

You are going to create the start of your own training plan.  We are going to create a plan for four weeks rather than several months, as four weeks is not too overwhelming and you should begin to notice a few differences if you are consistent over that period.  But for now, let’s look at the typical week in your life…. Write down the days of the week, Monday through Sunday.

Step Two – What exercise do you already do?  

Next to each day, write down what you currently do for exercise; classes, walking home from work, running with friends, gym, Pilates, yoga, swimming, cycling etc.

Step Three – How much more time have you REALLY got for running?  

Now, this is important, I just want you to answer this question honestly rather than being aspirational

How many minutes (0 / 15 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90) per day do you have available to dedicate to your running goal.  It is ok to put ZERO if you are busy… Write a number of minutes next to each day….

Step Four – Putting in your walk / runs

Congratulations…you have now set your parameters!  Now you have 7 days, with your existing exercise routine and the amounts of time each day that you can work towards your running goal.  We are going to fit three walks / runs in per week as follows:

  1. Put in ONE longer run / walk when you have the most time (usually at the weekend).
  2. TWO shorter, easy paced run / walks where you have at least 30 minutes of time available.

It might look something like this…


Step Five – Safely and gradually add distance to your walk / runs 

You now have your first one week training plan.  We are going to be consistent and develop a routine for your exercise, so we will keep the same activities on the same days in weeks two, three and four, whilst gradually adding in distance. As a general rule, don’t increase your overall distance by more than 10 per cent per week.  So for example, if your long run at the weekend is 5km in week one, make it 5.5 km in week two, 6km in week three and 6.5km in week four.

And there you have it!!  You have just created your first four week training plan!

Remember, the objective of this first four week plan is to get you started and gain some momentum; nothing more, nothing less. We can add in all of the funky stuff like intervals, tempo runs, hills etc. at a later date.  I simply want you to create the time to go for three runs / walks per week and begin building that all important momentum and routine.

Feel free to email me on to let me know how you get on with these five steps.

Chris White

Recreational Running Coach

Go Run Australia

As a qualified Recreational Running Coach I have helped real runners around Australia to take the guess work out of their training, increase their accountability and give them realistic personal monthly running plans that fit in with their busy lives.

If you are interested in following the success of these runners, all ‘MDA Run for Strength’ runners will be offered a massive discount of 40% on these plans.  Email me at and we can get you started straight away.