The Average Joe's Guide to Improved Running Performance

Who this guide is for

This blog is a programming guide designed to help someone put together a better running program. This guide is designed specifically for the person seeking to improve run times for distances up to 6.2 miles in length. That said, the programs can benefit individuals running greater distances up to and including half-marathons and marathons.

The included programs and presented ideas focus on the “shorter” distances but improving speed and efficiency at shorter distances will improve longer distances. I call this transfer of ability and it means that making higher intensity work easier always makes lower intensity work easier. That is, if you can run a mile at 10 mph, then running two miles at 5 mph becomes easier. The ideology and associated training programs included in this blog focus on the following goals and distances:

  • Improving sprint time
    • Focus on any sprint between 200-800 meters
  • Improving mile time
    • Focus on improving mile time but also sprint times
  • Improving 5K time
    • Focus on improving 3.1-mile time, but also mile time and sprints
  • Improving 10K time
    • Focus on improving 6.2-mile time, but also 5K and mile time

While the above noted distances and the related training programs included at the end of this manual are not all-inclusive of the distances covered by competitive or recreational runners, improving all these distances will improve all other distances. Whether you are new to running and programming for the same, or you are an experienced runner hoping to take his or her abilities to the next level, the included training methods and programs will help you improve your overall run performance. That said, you should understand good running form and basic knowledge of distances used in running, such as 100 meters, 800 meters, 5K, etc. The programs build upon each other, making them suitable for beginners. For example, the first sprint program focuses on the 200-meter but also includes runs of greater lengths, including 400 meters and 800 meters, as well as mile runs. The weekly mileage is low as well, allowing a beginner to acclimate to such weekly mileage before moving onto something higher. The 200-meter sprint program will begin to build speed and endurance, as well as improve fitness and allow you to focus on running mechanics, which is essential to forward progress. From the 200-meter program, you can move onto the other programs in succession, or jump ahead as your ability allows. For the experienced runner, these programs provide an opportunity to go to the next level. For example, you may already have a good mile time. The mile programs will allow you to improve that time, by breaking down the distance into focus areas to improve speed, while also improving endurance through sufficient volume at shorter distances, sufficient volume at higher distances, and overall weekly mileage. What is more, you can focus on the 5K and 10K programs to improve even more. With eight included programs, or 96 weeks of total training time, you should be able to find a program that works for your goals.

What this guide is not

This blog is not a running form guide, though some points about form will be made. This book is not for extremely out of shape people, obese persons, or individuals who have similarly limited ability. At the same time, it is not for people who just want to have a couple of casual runs per week or just run a few miles per week. I mean, you could try to use it that way, but the minimum mileage for any included program starts at 10 miles while the minimum number of days starts at three. The text is for persons who want to understand more about running programming and receive programs that target specific goals. It is for persons who are willing to dedicate at least three days per week to run training and who will commit to no less than 10 miles per week. Completed correctly, most workouts will take 60+ minutes.

Why should you listen to me?

I practice what I preach, and I train both competitive runners and people just like you. I hold a run coach certification, a degree in exercise science, and multiple other training credentials, including those in sports nutrition, fitness nutrition, and strength and conditioning, no top of degrees in two other fields. I am educated and experienced.

I practice what I preach

I run 7 days per week. Running has been a part of my training since 2004. I also ruck, cycle, and perform other cardio methods. All methods I use to train others or present in formats such as blogs and videos were used by me.

I train competitive runners

Marathon runners—I have helped marathon runners refine their overall strategy for nutrition and training to improve not only their run times but also their overall fitness. This includes helping the marathoner cut down his full-marathon time while also reducing the times for all shorter distance runs. Some clients run marathons with a per mile pace in the sevens 5K and 10K runners—As I did with marathon runners, I helped shorter distance runners refine their overall strategy for nutrition and training to improve not only their run times but also their overall fitness. Many clients run up to a 10k with a per mile pace in the sixes. For context, these are not people who are 110 pounds and 5’6” and only run. These include people who weigh up to 250 pounds at 6+ feet tall who also lift weights and engage in other activity on top of daily life. They included busy professionals, police, military, doctors, and people just like you.

I train everyday people like you

I have worked with soccer moms, doting, dads, executives, and business owners seeking running improvements for fitness or personal satisfaction and I have helped them take their run training to the next level. For example, I helped one client shave 15 minutes off his five-mile time, taking it from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, while simultaneously helping him add 500 pounds to his major lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) and reduce his body fat. These results are common when people follow my programs.

A few considerations for the programs

In this running related post, https://demetzonlinepersonaltraining.com/how-to-start-a-running-program/, I go over a few key areas to consider for your run program. These points include thoughts about running definitions, the different goals of running, health underpinnings, and more, such as running on a treadmill versus running outside. All of the included points may not apply to you now. That said, the information can prove helpful for a better overall understanding of running and for things to consider in the future. Read more here before moving on to the rest of this blog.

Mobility and Flexibility

The ability to move is essential to any activity. While you can run without focusing on mobility, stiffness or poor movement patterns may impede your progress. This blog https://demetzonlinepersonaltraining.com/what-is-mobility-with-suggested-exercises-and-videos/, briefly covers mobility and movements to help with your overall ability to move. This is not a required read but is suggested.

Determining the program

The program you should follow is partially dictated by your goals. However, your ability comes into play as well. For example, if your end goal is to run 6.2 miles, but you struggle with a mile, then you need to improve your mile first. At the same time, your life constraints, such as schedule, partially determine what program you choose.

Considering physical condition

  • Current outstanding ailments
    • These cover anything physical that limits someone’s ability to engage in physical activity. This includes but is not limited to injuries of any kind (sprains, strains, broken bones, eye swelling), asthma, heart condition, etc.
  • Previous ailments with or without current impact
    • A previously injured tissue is a previous ailment and may include broken bones, sprains, or strains, etc. These issues may not cause current or ongoing aggravation but may be weak points worth considering. For example, a previously broken bone may be more susceptible to future breakage.
  • Current fitness level as assessed
    • Your current fitness level as determined by an accurate assessment is a major consideration for program selection or design. It not only tells you how fit you are but also tells you how close you are to your goals, what your starting point should be, and helps formulate a timeline for achieving your goals.

Considering goals

  • Number of goals—If you have concurrent goals, then concurrent training will likely need to occur. In this instance, concurrent goals might mean improving speed and improving distance. While overlap occurs between the two, there are distinct differences in approach to program design or selection.
  • Loftiness of goals relative to current fitness—It should go without saying, the further you are from your goals, the longer it will take to reach them. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, but you struggle with a 5K, you need to work on the 5K distance first and gradually build up to the marathon.

Considering interests

  • Goals are specific, and planning should coordinate, but interests should be considered. For example, if a person wants to run 6.2 miles, but finds longer training difficult mentally, a higher use of fast miles and sprints may be ideal.

Considering life

  • Situational factors such as schedule, time available to train, work stress, etc. must be considered and planned around. For a workout program to be successful, it must mesh well with your life.

The following points are things I consider when creating a program for any client.

  • Assessment
    • The assessment should include, at a minimum, assessment of the foundational movements (overhead press, squat, hip-hinge, running), but also include anything specific to the desired style of training or known issues.
  • Determining the program
    • Based on the assessment, goals, and other situational data, you need to create or select a program that is tailored to you. In this case, you select a program from this manual by considering the points I mentioned.
  • Creating the program
    • When I create a program, I consider a variety of things. A few key areas every program should address are included below. When selecting and implementing your program from the plans included in this book, you want to consider these points.
      • Specificity—tailored to the goal. In this case, the program should focus on the running goal you have. For example, if you are a sprinter, you should engage in a program that focuses on sprinting, not another form of running.
      • Individual differences—tailored to the client. The program needs to fit your situational factors, such as schedule, skill level, and current physical state. For example, if you are a beginner runner, you should utilize a beginner program, not an advanced program.
      • Periodization—follows a structured plan. This simple means the plan is created with purpose and organize in an effective manner. All the programs included in this blog are.
      • Progressive—improves results over time. The program must improve your abilities over time or it is pointless. Properly utilized, all programs in this book are progressive by design.
      • Fatigue—manages fatigue. The program should help you manage fatigue, but the program is only part of the equation. By that, I mean the program should not be so physically demanding that you cannot recover. However, even a program that is not too physically demanding can become difficult if other aspects of your lift, such as nutrition and stress management, are not well-managed.

Working through the program

Having a good program in front of you is only part of the process. You must follow the program to see success. The following are a few points to consider.

  • Focus—you must focus on your goal and completing the program effectively. If you go to the gym and half-ass your efforts because you are thinking about work, too busy checking out people in the gym, more concerned with going out, or otherwise placing your attention on something other than training, your results will suffer. This applies to focusing on activities in the gym, but also tasks outside the gym, such as rest and nutrition.
  • Motivation—this goes in line with focus. If you lack the motivation to put in hard work, to be consistent, to do the things you need to do to be successful, then you are not going to reach your goals.
  • Consistency—it is all good and fine to do what you need to do part of the time, but that will not get you to the end goal. For example, you might go kick but for a couple of workouts, which is awesome, but then slack off for the next three, or even worse, skip the next three. This is not ideal. If you get in enough workouts this way, you might start to see results, but those results will be lackluster. For the best progress over time, you must consistently do the things you need to do. The best runners are built in years, not months, weeks, or days.

The program templates

Thinks of these programs as a series of progressions. That is, using the sprint programs can lead you into the mile programs, which can lead you into the 5K programs, and finally into the 10K program. If followed in order, you have 96 weeks of programming available. Single programs are 12 weeks in length. If you have a base idea of basic running terminology such as distance (meters, miles, etc.), type of activity (walk, jog, run), and intensity (easy, moderate, hard), you should be able to follow these programs with ease. Click the linked headers below to access each program blog. Sprint 1 – Improving 200-meter time Sprint 2 – Improving 400-meter time Sprint 3 – Improving 800-meter time Improve mile time Improve 5K time Improve 10K time


Overtraining is a real, medically defined issue. It is not a problem exclusive to the elite athlete. Any person, including you and me, can do more work than the body can reasonably accommodate at that point in time. This can lead to overtraining, which may result in various symptoms, such as low energy, moodiness, excessive or prolonged muscle soreness, and more. To avoid overtraining, or even just feeling too beat up, recovery should be a focus. This blog, https://www.demetzonlinepersonaltraining.com/post/2019/06/24/pointers-about-recovery-and-nutrition, briefly talks about overtraining, recovery, and how to address both, including how nutrition and supplementation tie in to the process.

Final thoughts

Demetz Personal Training About Nathan Demetz Personal Trainer

This blog is designed to help you put together a better running program. If you follow it over time, paying attention to all details, including the linked out additional reading, you will improve run times for distances up to 6.2 miles in length. In fact, if you work through all programs in the guide, you will improve every competitive distance along the way, but also see marked improvement in distances greater than 6.2 miles. At the same time, you will be more educated about how to make the most of you program now and into the future, including how to recover well and how many times work out per week, and you will reap additional benefits beyond running improvements, such as a leaner body and improved health. The power is yours. Now put in work.

Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science. Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.