Love it when a plan comes together – planning for success!

So you’ve taken the plunge and committed to a walking/running challenge, be it to fundraise, lose weight or achieve personal goals.

But how are you going to reach your virtual finish line, especially if you’re attempting to walk, jog or run further than ever before?

It’s all in the planning.

The best advice I can give anyone attempting a distance run – be it 5k, 10k, eight miles, ten miles, half marathon, full marathon etc – is to identify a training programme that suits both your ability and lifestyle, and stick to it.

Here are six factors to consider:

Your ability level – Be honest with yourself. Read up on who each programme is designed for and decide which category mirrors your ability  – walk to run, beginner, intermediate or advanced.

Time commitment – Another key aspect in deciding which programme to follow will be how much time you can commit to training. Be realistic.

Don’t beat yourself up – Family/work/life commitments will always knock your training plans off course. Don’t worry if you’re forced to miss a training run. Just get back on track as soon as life allows you too. The miles you’ve got in the bank will not go to waste by missing the odd training run. And remember, it is the weekly ‘long walks/runs’ which are the most important.

Plan ahead – Most training programmes will feature a weekly plan, designating certain activities for certain days (including rest), but you’ll be lucky if your work/family/life commitments are completely in sync. Worry not. Look at the week ahead and decide which days are most suitable to train. Just be mindful of doing too much on successive days. Rest days are just as important as training days.

Trust your training – At times, you may feel like you’re getting nowhere and aren’t progressing. When you’re feeling low, remind yourself where you started, and where you’ve got to now. It’s just as important to remember what a training programme actually is – a series of activities to get you in the best condition for virtual event day. It is on event day that you well feel your strongest – and you’ll be amazed by the results when you cross your virtual finish line.

Nutrition – It is as important during training as it is on event day to be properly hydrated and fuelled. But don’t make the same mistake as a friend of mine, who thought he could replace all the calories he burnt off in training at the dining table. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that! Many will indeed need to take on more calories, especially if preparing for a half or full marathon, but be sensible and try to follow a healthy, balanced diet.

If you follow the above advice, you’ll no doubt cross your virtual finish line and feel like repeating the phrase immortalised by The A Team’s Hannibal Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together!”