• Your goals
• Your current fitness level
• Your available time
Training is a process of subjecting your body to stresses it’s unaccustomed to, then allowing it to get stronger while you recover. How much stress is appropriate, and how much recovery is necessary, will vary enormously from person to person. Your fitness level, experience, age, and any previous injuries will be factors. So please—when interpreting any advice, err on the side of taking it easy. If your ambition is rewarded by a foot injury that sidelines you for six weeks ... so much for ambition!
3) Is the program periodized? This means, does it evolve in distinct stages throughout the year? A good program might include:
• A gentle pre-season period for building a fitness base.
• An intense mid-season directly working toward your goal.
• A race season that includes whatever events you’re training for. This period will include longer recovery stretches before events.
• An off-season, for recovery. This is a good time to run casually and occasionally, or to cross train. This means switching off with a different sport that you enjoy. Consider hiking, swimming, mountain biking, or cross-country skiing, to give your skeleton a rest from the running season, and to give your mind something different to think about. Periodization is vital if you’re a competitive athlete. It’s also helpful for recreational athletes and for anyone just trying to stay fit, because it helps keep things interesting. It absolutely helps to keep you from burning out mentally or physically. You may feel especially enthusiastic to start each new season after a relaxing off-season.