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Signing Up

Are Run SMART Training Plans for first-time runners?
The great thing about the Run SMART Training Plans is that they are customized for runners of all levels. The schedules factor in your goals/objectives, running history and current fitness so you can have two completely different schedules if you purchase a 5k training schedule and your starting your schedule from scratch versus purchasing it when you start it in very good shape. We have beginner, intermediate and more advanced templates in our system that are all formulated to match your running profile. Whether you’re training to finish your first 5k or trying to break 3 hours for a marathon, we have a template that is perfectly suited for you.

What’s the difference between the Premium and Basic options?
Purchasing a training plan is not a private coaching service. If you choose the Premium option you have access to a coach for email support throughout the duration of your plan. Email support includes questions regarding your training plan and if you need to make any adjustments to the schedule. The Basic option will eventually include access to a message board where answers to common questions regarding the training service can be found. You will also be able to post your own questions to the board for help.

How does the sign-up process work?
Currently we offer marathon, half marathon, 5k and 10k training plans. If you’re training for one of those distances, click the Sign-up button and begin filling out your profile. Make sure to provide as much information as possible about your running history (past races, injuries, health conditions, etc.). Training plans are only as effective as the amount of information the program knows about you. Once you’re done filling out this brief profile you’ll be asked to submit payment. Then, a Run SMART coach will begin constructing your schedule. You will be allowed to email this coach about changes or adjustments along the way.

When will I receive a schedule after I sign-up?
Due to high demand generally delivered within 5-7 business days after you submit your profile. We just launched so over time you will receive your schedule within one day of purchase. We’re not there yet but we will be soon. All training plans are emailed via PDF attachment.

Can I sign-up if I’m not in the U.S.?
Schedules can be generated for customers all over the world. If you are not in Canada or the U.S. you will need a special code to bypass our current payment system. Right now it doesn’t accept international payments.

Can I receive a training plan using the metric system?
All plans are now available in the metric system so workouts will show in kilometers and meters. When signing up just note in your profile that you would like your plan converted to the metric system.

Explaining the Schedule

What do the session letters mean?
E (Easy pace running):  Typically in the range of 65 to 79% of heart rate max. Helps promote desirable cell changes and develops cardiovascular system. The benefits of E pace are more a function of the time spent exercising than the intensity.
(Marathon-pace running):  Typically in the range of 80-90% of heart rate max. To help you experience race-pace condition.
(Threshold training):  Typically in the range of 88-92% of heart rate max. To help you improve endurance, e.g. tempo runs, cruise intervals. Subjectively, threshold running should feel “comfortably hard,” or 24 to 30 seconds per mile slower than 5k race pace.
(Interval training):  Typically in the range of 98-100% of heart rate max. Purpose is to stress your aerobic capacity. Interval training is “hard” running but it isn’t all-out running. The ideal duration of interval workouts is about three to five minutes each.
(Repetition training):  Typically around mile race pace or faster. To help you improve speed and economy to help you become a more efficient runner. The goal is to become comfortable while running fast and teaching your body to become more efficient at slower paces, like race-pace.
If you have any questions about these definitions or see a funny word you don’t understand, email the coach who authored your schedule for an explanation.

Why are the “quality sessions” so important?
Quality sessions are your most important workouts because they stress different systems of your body. They are formulated to your profile and geared towards making you become a stronger and faster runner.

What are strides?
Controlled accelerations of about 80-100 meters to help you improve leg turnover and running technique. Find a straight and flat path and accelerate smoothly up to full speed and try to relax and run comfortably. Focus on proper running form and leg turnover. Concentrate on relaxing your shoulders, arms, and pushing off on the balls of your feet without leaning forward or backward. Take at least 60 seconds recovery between each stride.

Training Questions

Can I follow a training plan if I’m running on a treadmill?
Run SMART Training Plans list exactly what distance and pace you should be running everyday leading up to your goal race. Running on a treadmill is an easy and efficient way to follow a Run SMART Training Plan, especially if you’re not very good with pace, don’t have a GPS watch or a marked path to run on. We recommend adjusting the treadmill to a 1% grade to adjust for the stress you would experience when running against a headwind outside and because it helps reduce the landing shock on your legs.

Say I have to miss a day of running during the week. In general, which days are more OK to miss than others?
If you have to miss a run during the week opt for the shortest easy run that you have available.

What should I do if I get sick or miss a block of training?
Take care of your body when it’s sick. If you’re following an 18-week schedule missing two or three days out of 126 is not going to make or break your training. Training through an illness can only exacerbate it and cause you to take more time off. When you’re sick put your strength and energy towards getting healthy again. If you have to miss more than four or five days of training due to an illness or injury please contact the coach who authored your schedule so he or she can make a quick adjustment.

Why is it so important to do easy runs at the recommended pace? That seems too slow for my marathon goal.
Easy running pace elicits physiological benefits that build a solid foundation from which higher-intensity training can be performed. Your heart muscle is strengthened, muscles receive increased blood supplies and your muscles increase their ability to process oxygen through the cardiovascular system. Remember, the benefits of easy running occur at YOUR designated easy running pace and are more a function of time spent exercising rather than the intensity. Your easy pace is as hard as you need to go to get the benefits you want on the cellular level. It allows you to reap these benefits at a low intensity which is a safer way to train.

How do I know how what my pace is or how do I keep track of pace?
You can keep track of your pace easily on the treadmill or if you have a GPS watch (see Garmin, Timex, Polar, etc.) It’s also easy to find your pace on a marked path or a track. We don’t recommend doing all of your runs on a track but a track can be useful to help you learn pace. If you don’t have access to a marked path, treadmill or a GPS watch, use the track to find your pace for the first mile and then leave the track for the rest of your run. If you’re doing a threshold, interval or repetition session then do it on the track after you warm-up.

What happens if I don’t hit my pace perfectly? For instance, it seems hard to do a mile precisely at 8:44 per mile, especially if I’m a beginner and haven’t had much experience with pacing.
The goal is to get as close as you can.  The purpose of having specific training paces is to receive a desired training effect.  The pace does not have to be dead on, but is a good reference.  The “easy pace” is the least specific.  As long as your within 20 to 30 seconds of the recommended easy pace you gain the desired training effect.

Is it a bad thing on the easy days if I can’t complete the full mileage?
Remember, the benefits from easy pace running come from time spent exercising not the intensity so it’s important to complete the full mileage, unless you’re feeling sick or injured. If you’re struggling to hit your prescribed mileage contact the coach who authored your schedule.

How does cross training factor into this schedule?
Cross training can be very useful for runners who spend only a small amount of time running or who suffer regular setbacks when they undertake a higher-intensity running program. If you can only run four days a week or less then cross training on a few of your “Off days” can be very useful. Swimming, pool running, cycling and the elliptical trainer are all great supplemental exercises. Run SMART Training Plans don’t include cross training but your coach can offer you advice as to when the best days for cross training are during the week.

What should my “base” be in advance of starting this schedule? (or is this factored in to the type of schedule you, as a coach, provides me?)
We recommend having at least a few weeks of easy running under your belt before you purchase a Run SMART Training Plan. It’s also imperative you are healthy before you start following a schedule.