Designing An Aerobic Training Plan

If you look online you probably will see a million (no joke) different training plans that will make you stronger, leaner, faster etc.

Every individual is at a different place in their training and shouldn’t be creating plans based on what they see elite athletes doing, or what they think the ideal body should look like.

There are ways to figure out where you are at personally with your fitness, and then from there craft a plan for training based on your current level of fitness and where you want to get to.

If you haven’t already do the Threshold Tests in my previous blog post. You should be able to get a pretty accurate Aet, LT and Max Heart Rate. Don’t compare yourself to others on this just get your heart rates and move on to the next step in designing a plan 🙂

This is going to sound all yoga and meditational-ish but trust me. SET YOUR INTENTION.

This means why do you want to get fitter? Are you trying to win a race? Not feel like dying while hiking? Bring your resting heart rate down? Have a better beach body? I don’t really care your reasoning and I won’t ever tell someone they have the wrong reason. Just have a reason that you can stick with for yourself and focus your plan based on that.

Regardless of your reason for building a training plan, building one with my method will build your aerobic capacity. So you should be able to run, swim, hike, bike or whatever with more ease. At the same time you should also be able to run races faster and therefore increase your chances of winning.

PLEASE NOTE 2 THINGS: THIS IS ONLY A BASIC GUIDE ON BUILDING A PLAN THAT HAS WORKED FOR ME. DON’T HOLD ME LIABLE WITH WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION. I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR SPORTS MEDICINE PROFESSIONA, THERAPIST OR ANYTHING OF THAT SORT, JUST AN ELITE RACER WHO HAS HAD GOOD RESULTS WITH THIS.

2ND: THIS IS ONLY FOR THE ENDURANCE AND AEROBIC SIDE OF TRAINING. I WILL WRITE UP SOME NOTES ON STRENGTH TRAINING AND RECOVERY TRAINING. IF YOU DON’T INCLUDE THOSE YOU WILL NOT SEE OPTIMAL RESULTS.

All right now that I’ve got that crap out of the way lets use the data from your threshold tests and create a basic plan.

The last thing you should know besides your threshold heart rates is how many miles per week you have been running on average. To keep things simple I’ll just assume you have been doing 20 miles total in a week. Don’t worry if that’s a lot or a little for you just adjust the number to what you have been running. If you haven’t run at all start with 10 miles per week.

Now you will want to set up your running Zones. These are going to be calculated using your threshold zones from the previous post. See below for calculations. Note I have pre-filled with some heart rates for an example:

AeT (Aerobic Threshold) Zones 1 and 2 Goal is Higher HR with nose breathing140
Lactate Threshold (Maximum work rate for sustained period)161
10% Test Results (Divide by the highest number ignore the 1s)15%
MAF (Maximal Aerobic Function) 180 – Your Current Age148

So the 10% test tells you basically how well your aerobic function is. If you are over 10% which most people are you will want to do 80% of your runs at ZONE 2.

If you are in the 10% range then 80% of your runs should be in Zone 1. This is simply to keep you from over exerting yourself and you will see improvement.

Now for the big reveal! The plan you should set up should include:

  1. A long slow run each week
  2. 2 Fast runs
  3. 3 slow runs

80% of your runs should be slow at Zone 1 or Zone 2 heart rate and 20% of your runs should be at Zone 3 – Zone 4.

Each week you should add just a few miles to your plan so you slowly increase your mileage without burning out. Every 4th week should be a rest week where you follow the plan but do 50% of the mileage. So if you put on 20 miles your rest week should be 10.

Here is an example of the runs based on 20 miles a week starting:

Run 1: Zone 3 or 41.74
Run 2: Zone 14.35
Run 3: Zone 3 or 42.61
Run 4 Zone 14.35
Long Run Zone 18.70

This will total almost 22 miles in one week. Notice your longest run is a little over 8 and a half miles. If you run in Zone 1 or 2 though it should be very easy to the point that you may feel like you are walking.

The long run will take the longest usually about 3 or 4 hours at most. Your short fast runs will end up being 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending.

Craft your runs however you feel just make sure to follow the 80/20 % rule and you will be fine.

Track each day and week your average heart rate in each run to keep yourself honest and in the right zones. After three weeks do the rest week and see how your time has changed. Even though your heart rate should be kept the same you will start to see your time per mile decreasing which is an amazing feeling since your effort will not be.

I’ll leave this post as it is for now. This is the starting of a very basic plan. The idea first is to build your aerobic engine. This plan will do it. Build your own of course and stick with the basic concepts to get some killer results.

Add in a good diet, weight training, plyometrics and active recovery for a well rounded plan that will yield some seriously great results! I’ll get more into those others in my next posts.

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