Reach your peak form in two months

Valentin Belz 19. January 2024

Photo: Kerzerslauf

Do you run regularly year-round but (still) without any real guidance and want to take part in a run between 15 km and a half-marathon? We’ll show you how to train properly in the two months leading up to the event.

At first glance, running seems like an easy sport. The more you train, the better and more likely you are to win. Upon closer inspection, however, we can see that (even) running is a complex sport and winning isn't so easy. Running is a mix of factors: endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination, speed and mobility. While it requires all of these aspects, it needs them in different quantities - just like baking a cake. If something is left out, you'll quickly notice through stagnated performance or injury.

Endurance is the most important factor (70% of overall training time). You should run at a low intensity for three-quarters of the time. This is particularly the case if you are not sure what to do before a training session. In principle, the longer the duration, the slower the training runs should be. For 20-25% of your endurance training, you can and should include intensity if you want to increase your speed and enjoy diversity in your workouts. Ensure that there is a real difference between the individual intensity levels and don't always run at the same speed.

Strength is also required (15%). Particularly in the torso. In order to increase running stability and improve efficiency, year-round strength training should be carried that focuses on the feet, legs and torso. You can find examples of effective exercises here:

A good technique makes you quick (7%), mobility keeps you supple (5%) and minimal contact with the ground (3%) is key to running success. It is therefore recommended to regularly invest time in running technique (e.g. ABC running drills) or ascending runs. Stretching and relaxation exercises are also good for minimising the risk of injury. Furthermore, certain running exercises should focus on the shortest possible contact time with the ground. 

The key training rules

Endurance sports are extremely honest, yet brutal. Regular training pays off. Investing less time in your training will increase the time it takes for you to achieve your goal. In terms of training as a whole, there are several other key principles that are decisive when it comes to success and failure. We've summarised the main points:

  • Training and recovery belong together. Sounds simple but this is probably the training principle that is most underestimated and most frequently ignored. The art is to reach the highest point of super compensation. Otherwise, you'll tire more quickly or won’t reach your maximum potential. 
  • Mix up the training intensity. We tend to always move around with the same intensity. This is usually neither particularly high nor low. But that should be exactly the goal: you should try to cover the entire intensity spectrum with different training formats. At the same time, try to avoid mixing these individual formats within a single training session where possible. In other words: decide on a training goal per training session and try to avoid working at the same intensity during each session.
  • 3:1 is the magic formula. Endurance training primarily takes place in the aerobic range. In order for you to benefit most from the advantages of basic training, it is advisable to deliberately keep the intensity low in three out of four units. In this way, the body learns to obtain energy as much as possible through fat metabolism and to conserve glycogen reserves. 
    This will also help you in competition to release as much energy as possible through the fat deposits and to perform at your best for longer. One in four sessions may, and indeed should, be intensive. Do it in such a way that you really feel challenged and a stimulus is created for the cardiovascular system and lungs, the muscles and all other parts of the body involved. 
  • Frequency before duration before intensity. Try to increase the frequency first (4 sessions instead of 3). After reaching your personal maximum training sessions per week, increase the duration (50 minutes instead of 45). Only at the very end should you tweak the intensity and run individual sessions a bit more intensively. 
  • Keep chipping away at it. You will reach your peak form by training regularly over a longer period of time, dividing your training into various cycles throughout the year and systematically mixing it up.

Reach your goal in 8 weeks

Here you will find a guide on how to reach the next level of peak fitness in the following 8 weeks. The best thing: you can repeat this plan as often as you like as it is based on the basic principles for success and can be adapted to the key training rules, for example by including more optional training sessions in the following cycles. It’s therefore a timeless classic.

To the training plan