How To Create a Training Plan for Running (For Free, Using AI or Just Your Brain)

A female runner creating a training plan on a computer

Creating your own running training plan can be a rewarding experience. Not only will you save money but you  will also become a more conscious athlete that is more in tune with their training and body. Whether you create your training plan yourself, have a coach create it or use AI – understanding how to create a plan will help you finetune your plan.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of developing a personalized training plan to improve your running performance while minimizing the risk of injury. We’ll cover everything from assessing your starting point to specific considerations for various race distances and athlete types. Finally we will show you exactly which prompts to use to create an AI training plan for running you can finetune with your newfound knowledge.

Assess Your Fitness Level to Ground Your Training Plan in Reality

1.1 Assessing Your Current Speed and Endurance

When  building your own  training plan, it’s crucial to evaluate your current fitness level and to identify your training zones. This will help you set realistic goals, guide your training and allow you to measure progress.

Training zones describe your effort levels from very easy to very hard. Each zone can be defined by a given perceived effort level, heart rate or other metrics (Running Power, Blood measurements, ..) and corresponds to different physiological processes and therefore different training effects.

Recording your distances, times perceived effort and heart rate in races and training is a good starting point. A very reliable and repeatable way to identify your current performance is to conduct a performance test. 

The Functional Threshold Heart rate test was originally developed for cycling by Allen & Coggan (1) and is easily adapted for running. It is a test you can perform on your own without lab equipment and correlates highly with MLSS (Maximal Lactate Steady State), i.e. the point where lactate accumulation equals lactate clearance. This corresponds therefore to the highest workload  that can be maintained without lactate accumulation.

A thematic illustraiton for a functional treA runner on a scenic country road with a graphic of a glowing heart pulsing in his chest
A good training plan starts with an assessment of your current fitness level. (Image generated via bing image creator.)

1.1.1 Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) Testing and Its Importance for Runners

Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) approximates the highest heart rate that an athlete can sustain for an extended period (approximately one hour) without accumulating excessive amounts of lactic acid in the blood. It represents the border between aerobic and anaerobic efforts, making it a significant indicator of an athlete’s fitness level and capacity to sustain high-intensity efforts. Steps to Conduct an FTHR Test

To determine your FTHR, follow these steps:

  • Find a location where you can run at a consistent pace without interruptions such as traffic lights, busy intersections or uneven, difficult terrain. 
  • Begin with a 10 minute easy jog to warm up  and prepare your body. During the final 3 minutes of the warmup perform 3-5 “strides”, i.e. faster segments (but not all out sprints), of 15-30 seconds.
  • Once the 10 minute warm up is over, start your heart rate monitor and raise the pace to the maximum pace you can hold for 20 minutes. Aim for an even pace. As you repeat this test over time you will get better with pacing, often during a successful 20 min effort the first 10 minutes feel very manageable and only the second half feels challenging. 
  • Once the 20 min’s are over stop your heart rate monitor and record the average heart rate over the last 20 minutes. Take a moment to congratulate yourself to a hard effort and then calculate 95% of the recorded value. This adjusts your 20 minute effort to a heart rate you are likely to be able to hold for a full hour. If your average 20-min heart rate was 170 beats per minute, your functional threshold heart rate (FTHR) is 161 (170*0.95) beats per minute (BPM).

Don’t skip the warmup – it should prepare you for the main effort and it ensures that your heart rate is already elevated when you start the 20 min effort. FTHR measurements will not be accurate if you start the measured effort “fresh”.

The term  Functional Threshold heart rate (FTHR) is sometimes used synonymously with the term Lactate Threshold heart rate (LTHR). Technically an LTHR would be determined via blood testing, while the FTHR is a result of the functional threshold test described above. In practice FTHR and LTHR correlate well.

Heart rate zones baed on FTHR with a photo of a runner checking her heart rate Converting Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) into Training Zones

Knowing your functional threshold heart rate is very valuable as it allows you to set training zones when building your own training plan. Training zones allow you to structure workouts, aim for the right intensity and ensure optimal training adaptations. Here are six training zones based on your FTHR, each serving a different purpose in your training plan:

Training ZoneDescriptionHeart Rate ZoneType of WorkoutRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
Zone 1: Recovery ZoneVery easy effort, designed for active recovery, promoting circulation, and reducing muscle soreness.Less than 68% of FTHRRecovery runs, easy cross-training, or rest days1-2
Zone 2: Endurance ZoneComfortable pace that builds aerobic capacity and endurance, ideal for long runs and steady-paced workouts.69-83% of FTHRLong runs and steady-paced runs3-4
Zone 3: Steady State ZoneModerate to challenging pace, trains the body to tolerate lactic acid accumulation, improving race stamina.84-94% of FTHRThreshold runs and longer tempo runs5-6
Zone 4:Lactate Threshold ZoneClose to anaerobic effort, improves lactate clearance and raises the upper limit of sustainable race pace.95-106% of FTHRShorter tempo runs and longer interval workouts7-8
Zone 5: VO2 Max ZoneHigh-intensity efforts targeting maximum oxygen consumption, improving anaerobic capacity and race finishing kicks.Aove 106% of FTHRShort, intense intervals and hill sprints9-10
Zone 6: Anaerobic Power ZoneExplosive and sprint-like efforts, focusing on speed and power development.Very short, all-out effortsShort sprints and explosive plyometric workoutsMaximum effort

Armed with the knowledge of your heart rate-based zones, you can tailor their workouts in your training plan to your current fitness level and specific training objectives. This takes the guesswork out of training and allows for a more data driven approach in developing your own training plan. Remember to reevaluate your FTHR periodically, as it may change with improvements in fitness. Every four to six weeks is a good period to allow for sufficient time to adapt to training stimulus and see improvements in fitness.

1.2 Analyze Your Running Form

Proper running form is essential for efficient running and injury prevention. Use a running form analysis tool like to identify and correct biomechanical inefficiencies in your running gait.  A sound running technique can make a significant difference in your performance and longevity as a runner. Read much more here in our comprehensive guide to running form analysis. This article from our blog covers exercises to improve your running form and correct common running form mistakes.


1.3 Consider Previous Injuries

Past injuries can be indicative of potential weak spots or imbalances in your body. Take note of any recurring issues.and design your training plan to address these areas, incorporating appropriate exercises, strength training. If you have previously suffered from plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, runner’s knee or ITB syndrome check out the linked articles for preventive and rehabilitative exercises to integrate into  your training plan.

A male athlete icing his knee illustrating a common running injury and short term treatment for runner's knee

1.4 Consider Training Volume, Time Availability, and Recovery Needs

Assess your current training volume, time commitments, and the amount of rest you need for optimal recovery. Your plan should be realistic and compatible with  your lifestyle – including family and work commitments.

2  Setting Goals for Your Running Training Plan

Setting clear and meaningful goals is an essential aspect of developing a successful training plan. These objectives will act as a roadmap for your training plan and keep you motivated throughout the process if chosen right.

Goal setting for running - An image of a runner visualizing his goal while getting out of bed
It’s easier getting up early in the morning to train if you are clear about your goals. (Image generated via bing image creator.)

2.1 Types of goals

When it comes to goal setting for running, there are different types of goals to consider: Outcome Goals, Performance Goals, and Process Goals.  Each type has its benefits and can help athletes stay motivated and focused throughout their training journey. 

Goal TypeDescriptionExamplesProsCons
Outcome GoalsFocus on the end result or the desired outcome of the raceFinishing in the top 10% of your age group.Provides motivation and direction towards the raceExternal factors beyond the athlete’s control can affect the outcome
Performance GoalsCentered on achieving specific performance levels or personal recordsRunning a 10K at a pace of 8 minutes per mileAllows for measuring progress and improvementPerformance may vary based on external conditions
Process GoalsEmphasize the daily or weekly actions and behaviorsCompleting all scheduled training runs for the weekDevelops consistency and focus on the process. Most controllable and a foundation for success in outcome and performance goals.May lack the immediate satisfaction of outcome-based goals
The three dimensions of a goal

2.2 What Makes a Good Goal for Running?

To set yourself up for success your goals should fulfill several criteria that matter in designing training plans just as much as when designing business plans. These criteria can be abbreviated with the acronym S.M.A.R.T., for specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.:

  • Specific: Define your goal as clearly as possible, leaving no room for vagueness. Finishing a half marathon or improving your 5K time by 30 seconds are clear goals that make it easy to judge if you have achieved them. Keep in mind that next to run-specific, performance-driven goals you might also have social goals (Train 2 times a week with a group of sport friends) or health-related goals (Lower your body fat by 2%) that you will want to reflect when designing your training plan for running.
  • Measurable: When you start measuring something you often also start improving it as the visibility of your progress drives motivation and action. Race times, distances, or pace are all easy to measure.
  • Attainable: For a goal to be motivating it will likely have to stretch you, and you might not be entirely certain you can acchieve it. However your goals should be chosen so they are realistic and achievable with consistent training.. Consider your current fitness level, training commitment, and previous race performances to ensure your goals are within reach.
  • Relevant: Your goals should align with your overall running aspirations. Whether it’s finishing your first race or setting a personal record, your goals should be meaningful to you so they motivate you when the going gets tough. It is much easier to get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. for a run in the cold rain when you know what you are doing it for! 
  • Time-bound: A timeline for your goals will create a sense of urgency and motivation. Luckily a race date is an easy and natural way to set ourselves timelines.

3 Develop your  Training Plan for Running

3.1 Consider Key Training Plan Design Principles

Generations of trainer have created a vast body of knowledge in designing training plans, and many of the findings of practicioners have ultimately been validated in scientifid studies. Build on these guidelines or training plan design principles so you don’t have to make the same mistakes other runners did before you. This will maximize the effectiveness and safety of your training plan.

3.1.1 Gradual Progression

As a new or returning runner make sure to start with relatively low volume and intensity and progress slwoly from there. Gradual progression allows your body to adapt to the demands of running, reducing the likelihood of overuse injuries and burnout. The cardiovascular system may adapt relatively quickly to training, but the musculoskeletal system takes longer to strengthen, including ligaments and tendons. To prevent injury, introduce high-intensity or high-volume workouts only after your body has had sufficient time to build resilience, typically six months or more.

3.1.2 Balanced High-Intensity Weeks and Recovery Weeks

Give your body a break after periods of intensity so it has time to recover and benefit from the training effect. Only this way you will return stronger for the next period of intensity. Stack no more than 2-3 high-intensity weeks before incorporating a recovery week to give your body time to rest and rebuild. Similarly, after challenging workouts or race efforts, plan for easier training days to facilitate recovery.

3.1.3 Specificity in Training Timing

Train race-specific skills and physiology closer to your target race date. As the race approaches, include workouts that closely simulate the race conditions and demands. For less specific skills and physiology, plan these sessions further away from the race.

3.1.4 Progressive Load Within Training Blocks

Within any given training block, start with workouts that impose lower training stress due to intensity or duration and progress to workouts with higher load. This progressive approach ensures a steady adaptation and prepares your body for more challenging training sessions.

3.1.5 Intensity and Recovery Considerations

Intervals, tempo runs, and steady-state runs offer quick training effects but require significant recovery due to their intensity. Following an 80% to 20% rule, elite runners and other endurance athletes  tend to include more “easier” runs compared to “harder” runs and there is no evidence of benefits from increasing the contribution of “hard” runs. (2)

“Hard” runs are typically those at or above the ventilatory threshold / FTHR, such as tempo runs or intervals.

3.1.6 Multiple Workouts on One Day

If you plan to do multiple workouts on the same day, focus on different muscle groups or energy systems to prevent overuse injuries. For example, you could combine a strength workout with an endurance run. However, avoid scheduling back-to-back days with multiple intense workouts, as this can lead to burnout and injury.

3.1.7 Consistency and Cumulative Volume

Consistency and cumulative volume matter more than any specific individual workout. Aim for a regular training schedule, ensuring that you meet your prescribed weekly volume. Over time, consistent training leads to improved performance and better results.

3.1.8 Gradual Volume Progression

Gradually increase your training volume over time, avoiding abrupt spikes in mileage or intensity. The widely referenced “10% rule” is a guideline, not a proven fixed rule. Increase your volume based on individual factors and how your body and mind respond to the training load.

Training plan design principles - Illustrated by a giant book on a running track in front of a runner
“Training plan design principles can seem daunting – but are proven in practice and science (Image generated using bing image creator)

3.2 Which Periodization Approach to Use in Your Training Plan?

Periodization involves dividing your training plan into distinct phases to optimize performance and recovery. Common periodization models include linear periodization, reverse periodization, and block periodization. (3,4)

Periodization is the systematic planning of training cycles to optimize performance and recovery.The general idea behind periodization models is that performance improvement comes from the body adapting to a new stress. Changing the type of stress on the body regularly therefore leads to continued improvement and avoids burnout and stagnation.

When choosing a periodization model consider your experience and characteristics as an athlete and the demands of the goal event as well as your longer term goals.

3.2.1 Classic (Linear Periodization)

This is a traditional approach with gradual progression towards a single event. Intensity increases with each  phase, although most phases include some combination of low and high intensity at varying degrees. 

Typical phases are 

  1.  General Conditioning: varied low-level fitness routines
  2. Base Fitness: low intensity workouts with slowly increasing volume
  3. Build Fitness: Introduction of higher intensity workouts while continuing with volume increases
  4. Peak Fitness: Maintenance or decrease in weekly volume with continued increase in intensity as well as longest “long runs” in this phase.
  5. Taper: Maintain some intensity but only for short periods.. Significant decrease in volume to recover for the race.
  6. RACE
  7. Recovery: Often unstructured, various lower intensity activities, cross training

Classic linear periodization is great for new, less experienced athletes. The progression from low to higher intensity reduces injury risk.  On the other hand it may not be ideal for longer races, where slower paces would be more race specific and thus should be trained closer to the event. A common criticism is that it is aimed at peaking for a single event and does not account for multi-goal-race scenarios.

Classic periodization is therefore best suited for beginners, athletes targeting a single goal race in the season, and shorter / faster events. 

Classic Linear vs. Reverse Periodization for running training plans illustrated

3.2.2. Reverse Periodization

As the name suggests reverse periodization “reverses” the sequence of classic periodization focusing on intensity first. It leads to quick improvements in high-intensity zones but may not be suitable for shorter, faster races as the race specific faster paces are not practiced close to the goal event.

This makes reverse periodization best suited for athletes preparing for longer races, such as Marathons or Ultras and athletes with the experience and strength to handle the intensity at the beginning of the program.

3.2.3. Block Periodization

Block periodization divides training into concentrated blocks, with each block only focusing on one aspect of fitness, e.g. Volume or Intensity. 

A block may last from 2-6 weeks and will be followed by a block with a different focus area. 

A common structure is to begin with a focus on low intensity and high volume, followed by a focus of high intensity and lower volume and a “tapering recovery block” of low volume paired with some high intensity. 

This is a similar sequence as classic periodization but with shorter phases and an exclusive focus on a specific fitness area for each block.

With its intense focus block periodization targets specific adaptations effectively but may get monotonous due to the lack of varied training in a block. This approach may be well suited for athletes seeking improvements in a very specific area of their physiology that require a period of intense focus.The model has many nuances and is complex, so requires experienced coaches to define and monitor the plan.It is also more geared towards advanced and experienced athletes which require specific training impulses to avoid stagnating.

While these periodization models are a helpful structure to build training plans around, they need to be reality checked against the impact they have on the athletes performance, motivation and recovery. As a self-coached athlete you can instantly adjust the training plan to the impact it has on you, however listening to your own body can be difficult and also requires experience. 

3.3 Define the Training Blocks Within the Periodization Model Used

A training block is a distinct phase within your overall training plan with a specific focus and purpose. During each training block, you emphasize certain aspects of your running performance to target specific adaptations and improvements. The duration of a training block can vary based on your race goal, ranging from a few weeks to several months.

Each training block is designed to advance your fitness in a particular area, and as discussed above  they often follow a logical sequence within your overall periodization plan. Here are some examples of common training blocks:

3.3.1 Base Building Block

This phase focuses on establishing a strong aerobic foundation and preparing your musculoskeletal system for the demands of running and more intense training later on.

Workouts during this block mainly consist of easy runs and long, steady-paced runs. It takes longer for your ligaments, bones  and tendons to strengthen (up to 16 weeks) then for your cardiovascular endurance to improve. It is therefore important to be patient and move on to intensity in significant doses only once the musculoskeletal system is ready. 

This is also a great phase to analyze your running form and fix any flaws before stepping up volume and intensity.

3.3.2 Speed and Strength Block

During this phase, you concentrate on improving your running economy, muscular strength, and power. Workouts may include hill sprints, strength training, and intervals to increase speed and running efficiency.

3.3.3 Threshold Training Block

 The goal of this block is to raise your lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in your muscles, so you can run faster, longer. Threshold runs and tempo runs are common workouts to enhance your ability to sustain faster paces for longer periods.

3.3.4 Race-Specific Block

As your goal race approaches, this block centers on workouts that closely simulate the demands of your target race. You may include race pace runs, race simulations, and back-to-back long runs to build confidence and familiarity with race conditions. During race specific workouts you should also try to test your gear and nutrition strategy.

Training blocks allow you to build a training plan with purpose and structure, ensuring that you peak at the right time for your goal race. Transitioning from one block to another involves shifting the focus of your training while maintaining the progress you’ve made in previous phases. This strategic approach helps you avoid burnout and arrive well prepared to the starting line of your next target race.

3.4 Design the Weekly Structure Considering Volume and Intensity

Based on the periodization model and training block purpose you are set to define the weekly training volume and intensity.

If you have logged your training then your training history will give you a good starting point for weekly volume and the length of your longest weekly runs. If you are new to running and then a run/walk program is a safe starting point. Increase volume and intensity gradually to allow your body to adapt and to avoid injury. 

Make sure to plan in recovery weeks. Recovery weeks are characterized by a reduction in volume by third to a half from the previous week and workouts that do not go above Zone 3 FTHR or a Perceived Effort of 6. For experienced athletes a recovery week may be appropriate one out of every 4 weeks, if you are a new runner you might schedule a recovery week every two or three weeks.

3.5 Define Types of Running workouts, Volume and Intensity for Each Week

Plan each week’s workouts in advance, incorporating various types of runs like intervals, tempo runs, long runs, and recovery runs. A common approach is to start with the long run and then allot the remaining time or distance to other workout types. Avoid planning too far ahead and be open to adapt your training plan as needed based on your training adaptation, recovery, environmental conditions or external factors impacting your life as an athlete.

A menu of running workout types

Here is a summary of various workout types, their purposes, examples, and pros and cons:

3.5.1 Active Rest / Recovery

Easy, short runs entirely in Z1 (<68% of FTHR) or cross-training

Active rest facilitates recovery by reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Active rest may be used instead of a rest day if maintaining volume is a priority.

3.5.2 Endurance workout a.k.a. Base or Foundation Workout

An endurance workout is a steady-paced run in Zone 2 (69-83% of FTHR), with a warm up and cool down in Zone 1. These runs will make up the bulk of most athletes’ training plans.

This type of workout builds aerobic capacity and thus improves stamina and endurance. It also enhances fat-burning capabilities

Endurance runs longer than 60 min are often classed as a “long run” even though what a long run is will depend on your total weekly volume.

Some long run variations include faster elements into a Z2 long run to build fatigue resistance and race readiness.  A common format is to finish the final 10% of distance “fast” in Z3. 

Another variant is to split the main part of the run into multiple Z3 400 m / .25 miles intervals followed by three  times that distance in Zone 2. 

3.5.3 Threshold workouts a.k.a Tempo runs

Threshold workouts consist of a warm up followed by a sustained effort at a challenging, “comfortably hard” pace (Z3, Z4 or 84 to 106% of FTHR, depending on length), followed by a cool down. 

Appropriately named threshold workouts improve the lactate threshold. This makes it easier to sustain race pace. These workouts also increase tolerance to discomfort, a critical skill if you want to go faster.

Broken tempo a.k.a “Cruise Intervals” break up a Z3 tempo portion with Z1 recovery sections to increase the total time spent in Z3.

3.5.4 Interval runs

Intervals are repeated short bursts of high intensity in Z4 and Z5 (above 95% of FTHR) , with Z1 recoveries. 

Interval runs boost anaerobic capacity, increase running economy and power and ultimately  your running speed.

The high intensity bursts typically last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. Common recovery times between intervals are about 2/3rds to 100% of the length of aZ4 interval and 100% to 300% of a Z5 interval.

Hill repeats are a special type of interval, executed up a hill to build strength, running form and decrease impact forces. The recovery period for a hill repeat is often an easy jog down the hill.

3.6 Build in Training Races and Pre-Race Taper

Include practice races within your training plan to gauge your progress and get familiar with race conditions. Additionally, schedule a taper period before your main race to allow your body to recover and peak at the right time. The taper period is defined by a drop in volume while still maintaining short but high intensity sessions.

4. Specific Considerations for Various Race Distances

4.1 5K-10K

For shorter distances like the 5K and 10K, focus on speed work and intervals to improve your pace. Incorporate tempo runs to enhance endurance and lactate threshold.

4.2 Half Marathon

Half marathons require a balance between speed and endurance. Increase your long run distance gradually and incorporate threshold runs to build stamina.

4.3 Marathon

Marathons demand a strong base of endurance. Prioritize longer runs and incorporate back-to-back long runs to simulate race-day fatigue.

4.4 Ultra

Training for an ultra requires a gradual buildup of distance over time. Focus on back-to-back long runs and practice running on varied terrain. To be successful in Ultra’s make sure to also define and practice your nutrition strategy.

5. Specific Considerations for Specific Types of Athletes

5.1 Beginners

If you are a novice runner, prioritize consistency and injury prevention.Start conservatively with a walk/run program.  Gradually increase mileage and incorporate cross-training to build a strong foundation before focusing on speedwork and longer distances.

5.2 Elite

Experienced runners often can find gains in incorporating advanced workouts, fine tuning out of race and in-race nutrition and develop effective recovery strategies to enhance performance and avoid injury.

6. Avoiding Overtraining

Overtraining can lead to burnout and injuries. Listen to your body, take rest days seriously and  account for stress in your everyday life. Adjust your plan if you experience signs of overtraining, such as persistent fatigue and declining performance. It’s also important not to under-fuel, i.e. not providing your body enough calories during periods of intense exercise.

7. How to Generate a Training Plan With AI: Sample AI Prompts and  Training Plans

Instead of using a sample training plan your best bet might be to use the knowledge from reading this post to create a prompt for your favorite AI. This will avoid that you are using a “cookie cutter” template plan that is too far removed from what you need.

AI is not perfect, so you will need to check and finetune the plan but this can be a solid starting point if you don’t have a coach you are working with. A running coach will remain the gold standard, as they can observe your physical and mental status, your training environment etc better than any AI could and adjust and motivate using these inputs. 

An AI chatbot used to create a training plan for running

7.1 AI Training Plan Prompts

Here is a sample AI prompt, feel free to copy and finetune this prompt. You might want to start by adjusting the text highlighted in bold letters below to match your race distance, current training volume and race date.

Please create a training plan in a table format for me for the full duration of my training. The table should list every week as a row and the days from Monday to Sunday in columns. Each workout description should include the type of run (Recovery run, Walk-Run, Endurance Run, Tempo run, Interval Run, Hill repeats, Cruise Intervals) workout duration and Time spent in one of the 6 zones based on my FTHR. 

The table should start with the first week and end with the last week and list every week in between. Every day in the table should contain all the workouts and other information requested above and below.   

I am currently running 40 km per week. My best time  over 10K in the last 6 months is 40 min. I can train up to 5 days a week and would like to do my long run either on Saturday or Sunday.

I have a 21.1 km race coming up in 12 weeks from now.

Every week I’d like to do 1-2 Strength training sessions.

Every 4 weeks I plan to do a Functional Threshold Test, please include a 30 min session consisting of a 10 min warmup and a 20 min best effort to do this.  Do not plan any other workout on the day. The preceding day and next day should be either a rest day or an easy workout.

Every 4 weeks I plan to review my running form, add a note every 4th Saturday to “Take videos for run form check up” inside the training plan.

At least two times a week I would like to do running form drills before the workout , please include a 15 min warm up session that includes running form drills and show it before the workout in the table

Follow these training principles when devising the training plan:

  • Gradual Progression within the training plan and blocks
  • Every 4th week should be a recovery week with reduced volume and intensity
  • Choose an appropriate periodization model and tell me why you chose it.
  • Race specific workouts closer to race date
  • Include a taper period before the race with reduced weekly training volume but maintain short periods of higher intensity training.
  • Include warm up and cool down into the training plan.
  • A hard workout should be followed by an easier workout or rest day
  • 80%/20% split of easy (Recovery runs, Endurance runs) and hard workouts (Tempo Workouts, Intervals, Hill Repeats)

7.2 Thoughts and Notes on Using AI to Generated Training Plans

We used the free chatbot at Note that bing by default only provided the training plan for the first 4 weeks and required separate prompts to provide the rest of the plan in 4 week intervals. (Prompt 2: “Please also provide the plan for weeks 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16.”)

For reference we also include the free training plans generated from these prompts. We highly encourage you to review the prompt and the resulting plans and adapt them to your circumstances. If you have a coach or experienced training partner this would be another great resource to review the AI generated training plan.

AI generated training plans are not perfect – for example the half marathon plan includes a relatively hard and long tempo run in the “Taper week”, something I would adjust if using that plan for myself. I would also mix things up a bit more for more variety in my workouts. Having said that these plans are a solid starting point if you are struggling to put together a framework from scratch.

Another interesting aspect is that you can use AI to adjust your training plans if there are aspects you don’t like, or if you miss training sessions. By doing this you get an iterative and responsive training plan – however it does require you to understand training plan design to know what you ask for.

This blog post should provide you with the knowledge to adjust the “template” generated by AI.  If you have the opportunity to work with a coach this might be a great starting point for some new ideas in your training and for discussing the parameters that go into this prompt. Working with a trainer or coach also reduces the risk of injury in case the AI produces less than ideal results.

7.3 AI Generated Free Training Plans

Link to  free training planDistance (km)Starting VolumeNumber of days to train per weekWeeks to train
Marathon Training Plan – Intermediate42.140k616
Half Marathon Training Plan – Intermediate21.140k512
5K Training Plan – Beginners50312
Examples of Training plans generated with the AI prompt above in Microsoft bing.

To summarize – developing your own, individual training plan for running is a rewarding journey that allows you to tailor your training to your unique needs and goals. By assessing your starting point, setting realistic objectives, and following a well-structured plan, you can become a faster and more resilient runner while avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining. Remember, consistency and patience are key to long-term success in running. 

Utilizing AI enabled tools such as,, or ChatGPT to create a draft running training plan template to modify or using AI enabled running form analysis tool can bring pro-level knowledge into your running.

Having said that, there’s arguably nothing that will beat the individualized attention you get from a good running coach. Even if you do have the luxury of a coach, knowing how to develop a training plan will make you a better athlete and partner for your coach


  1. Allen, H.; Coggan, A. Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 3rd ed.; Velo Press: Boulder, CO, USA, 2010; pp. 326–328;,
  2. Seiler S. What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2010 Sep;5(3):276-91. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.5.3.276. PMID: 20861519.
  3. Casado A, González-Mohíno F, González-Ravé JM, Foster C. Training Periodization, Methods, Intensity Distribution, and Volume in Highly Trained and Elite Distance Runners: A Systematic Review. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022 Jun 1;17(6):820-833. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2021-0435. Epub 2022 Apr 13. PMID: 35418513.
  4. Issurin V. Block periodization versus traditional training theory: a review. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Mar;48(1):65-75. PMID: 18212712.

Further reading

  • Matt Fitzgerald, 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower, Penguin, 2014
  • Jack Daniels, Daniels’ Running Formula, Human Kinetics, 2022