Establishing a Routine

A one size fits all plan might not suit everyone but with a little tweaking you should be able to tailor the plan to suit yourself by simply swapping training days with rest days but do try follow a pattern to prevent bunching all your training days together followed by too many rest days.  As a guide I would say try avoid having more than three run days together or more than two rest days.  This might not always be possible but try for that format when you can.

 Try fitting the exercise sessions around your life rather than trying to fit your life around the exercise and you’ll find that this will make it less stressful and more enjoyable. Find gaps in your schedule and fill them with exercise.

  • Use your time wisely and if possibly you should try fit in your session at the first available opportunity as it lessens the chance of something unexpected meaning a change of plan.
  • Remember there are no set rules to what you do or when you do it but don’t be tempted to run everyday even if you have the available time as an excess of anything can be harmful.  Rest is an important part of the training cycle and rest days must be included as part of your routine.
  • It might take a week or two to work out the times and days that suit you best and when you find windows of opportunity that fit into your day then claim them for you.  It might even mean sacrificing one of the Soaps or a favourite TV programme but you can always record that for later.
  • Fuelling up before you head out isn’t as important as refuelling when you return so don’t be thinking you need to eat in advance.   Waiting for food to digest can also eat into your available time and then there’s the food preparation time.  By the time your food has settled you could have been out and back.
  • Refuelling is relative to your energy expenditure and for a beginner you will probably need less than you realise.  You might not even need anything in addition to your regular meals so don’t be tempted to start downing a 500 ml Sports drink or packet of biscuits.  Water will probably be enough or if you feel the need for something more substantial then try a small glass of chocolate milk. 
  • Cross training and active recovery can be used to fill in the gaps in your routine once it’s anything other than running.  Try going for an easy walk, cycle or even a swim but don’t look for a workout in everything you do.

It's advisable to consult with your doctor before starting on any new exercise regime if starting from a base of zero fitness and years of inactivity or returning from illness or injury.


John O’Regan is the official running coach for this year’s Run in the Dark taking place on Wednesday November 11th 2015 at 8pm in 50 locations worldwide.

John O’Regan has ran over 50 marathons and ultra marathons on seven continents / 20 countries and represented Ireland on 10 occasions at ultra marathon distance. Follow him on Twitter at @johnoregan777