Running Schedule: 5 Tips to Keep Up the Pace

Have you ever created a running schedule?

Maybe it was when you first started running and did that couch to 5k.  Maybe it was to tackle that next distance, the half marathon, marathon or even an ultra-race.  

Maybe it was something less formal, “I’m going to run 5 days a week”, or “100 miles a month”.  Ever said something like that?

Goals become manageable by breaking down large accomplishments into smaller more manageable milestones.

Like many things in life, a running schedule can help you stay on track.

A running schedule isn’t difficult to create, you can…

  • visit Hal Higdon.com for a custom-tailored training plan and detailed running schedule based on your own experience and specific race distance.
  • set a running distance goal for the week, month or year and break it into manageable pieces, or 
  • simply highlight your weekly running days on your calendar.

Very well. You have a plan. But what happens when life throws a twist?

Unfortunately running can’t always be the top priority.  Things higher up the list of importance can throw a wrench in our normal routines.  You know, things like…

  • Family
  • Work
  • School
  • Health

How can we make time for running when higher priorities disrupt our running schedule?

David Moore approaching the finish line of the Resolution Run 5k in Westlake, Ohio.

Just recently, I set my own goal of running 1,200 miles for the year.

A fraction of the typical yearly mileage for some, yet still an unfathomable number for others.  For me, it’s very reachable if I stay healthy, but nearly double what I did last year.

The math is easy.  I need to average 100 miles a month or 25 miles per week across the year.

I don’t have any specific workouts yet.  No events or races planned.  

  • Speed work
  • Hill repeats
  • Long runs
  • Intervals
  • Fartleks... 

These will all likely have their purpose later in the year, but at least for now, the plan is to just get out and run miles.

In the words of a great U.S. General:

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow

—George S. Patton

So, to help keep things on track and after reflection on my own running experience, personal habits, and a bit of research…

Here are 5 tips to keep a running schedule on pace

1. Run with friends

We’ve all been there.  

You made those morning running plans with intentions of getting to bed early.  Next thing you know, it’s 1 am and you are setting the alarm clock for 6.  

As the alarm rings out it’s easy to hit the snooze a few too many times or simply push it back that hour of would-be running time.

But if you are already committed to run with friends, you will probably get up and go.

We all hate to let our friends down.  

If you know there is someone who will be waiting to meet you and run… chances are you will suck it up, roll out of bed, and get on your way. 

Don’t have any running friends?  Make some.  There are running groups in virtually every town that are eager to welcome new members.

Running with friends is a great way to hold yourself accountable to scheduled running times.

2. Sign up for a race

The race.  The ultimate goal of running goals.  

Nothing gets us out to run quite like hitting that 'submit payment' button for the next big race.

Whether it is your first 5k or a 100-mile ultra-race, there is a psychological effect of knowing that at some point you will have to step up to the starting line.  

Sure, there are those first-timers who will sign up and do little or no training.  They might even complete a race or two.  But they probably won’t make running a regular part of their lives.

For most of us, the next race is the pinnacle of motivating factors to get out and run.

This past year, I completed my first 50k ultra marathon.  If I wanted to finish, there was no avoiding the need to get out and log miles.

Signing up for a 5k fun run probably wouldn’t have the same effect for me.  However, a 5k with a goal to break a 20-minute finish time?  That could work.

It is all relative.  

Just be sure that the event you sign up for is truly a challenge.  One that will motivate you to get out and put in the work.     

3. Get dressed to run

Many people in corporate work environments have seen drastic changes to their schedules in the past couple of years.  As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, office environments transitioned to work from home or hybrid home/office arrangements.  

Sounds great for running right?  

Before this, you only had two choices.  Run before work or run after work.  

Now you could sneak out at any hour of the day for a quick run.  Sounds easy.  But with this new freedom comes the “I’ll just go in an hour” or “I’ll go as soon as I finish this thing” mentality.  

By the time you know it, procrastination turns it into “I’ll just go tomorrow”.

What if you got dressed first thing in the morning to go for a run?

Get ready to run before you start your work day. Ok, you don't have to wear a hydration vest at the computer... but you get the point.

Skip the sweatpants with button down shirt for that Zoom and throw on your running shorts, top and socks instead.  

Still have to take that early morning work call?  That’s ok.  Another one after that?  Still ok.  As soon as you’re done, you are ready to go run.  

It sounds trivial, but it works.  Don’t believe me?  Give it a try. 

4. Schedule time to run

This one sounds easy enough right?  Just open the calendar and start plopping down one-hour blocks of time for the month.

This might work for a while.  

But what happens when…

  • your boss asks to schedule a meeting at that time?  
  • the kid’s schedules change and they need something during your running hour?
  • your spouse or partner insists on some quality time?

Do you say, “no I’m sorry… I’m already scheduled to go for a run”?

If you expect to keep your job, your kids and your partner then probably not.  

You compromise and defer to the higher priority.

When you repeatedly compromise your scheduled running time, it defeats the purpose of scheduling running time.

It loses its importance and becomes an optional item to be skipped or disregarded.

Instead, be thoughtful about how you are finding running times in your schedule.  Times that you can consistently stick to.  This process might involve… 

  • taking time every Sunday evening or Monday morning to schedule the week ahead.  
  • looking nightly at where your run fits for the next day.
  • blocking an hour in the afternoon that is still free that same morning.

Find what works best for you.  

The point is, develop a process that allows you to follow through on what you put on the calendar.  Otherwise, you will eventually just ignore the scheduled running time altogether.         

5. Wake up early

Waking up for that early morning run can be easier said than done.

Of course.  Just wake up early.  

There is all that free unused time in the wee hours of the morning when you aren't really doing anything, right?  

Right.

If you are anything like me, those early morning hours are already accounted for.  They are for sleep.

Seriously though, it’s not to say that I can’t or won’t ever wake up early and go for a run.  

  • In the summertime it’s the best.  Start early and beat the heat.
  • Fall or spring, not bad either.  Rise with the sun and the views are amazing.
  • Winter.  This one is tough as I’m not the treadmill type.  Darkness, freezing temps and hazardous conditions underfoot.  

Waking up early to accommodate a running schedule is one of those things that is easier said than done.

If the early morning already works for you, that is great. 

What if you aren’t a morning person? 

Be realistic with expectations.  It isn’t easy to shift your sleeping habits, especially when that 5 am alarm is telling you to go run in the cold and dark.

Sticking to a consistent running schedule is not an easy thing.

The author set his own goal of running 1,200 miles for the year at a recent Resolution Run 5k hosted by Hermes Road Racing in Westlake, Ohio.

To start with, running is kind of like work.  

It should be fun, but we don’t always enjoy it.  Especially that first step out the door which is the hardest one to take.

A running schedule is easy to create and can help us to stay on track.  But at some point, life will certainly throw a twist.

When that happens, hopefully these 5 tips will help us both to keep up the pace.

Do you have a tip of your own that helps get you out the door?  We’d love to hear about it. 

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David Moore 250
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Silver Lake, Ohio
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Amateur runner, bicycler and swimmer. Incredibly happy to have some in-person races available again! Training was a real struggle without the next event to look forward to.

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Brynn Cunningham Running with friends! The best! :)

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