The Runners Forum
  Follow us on Instagram!
900 spacer
table top

The Best Training Program for You

from Nutrion and Wellness Solutions by Heather Fink, MS, RD, CSSD

The new year is an exciting time for setting fitness and nutrition goals. Many runners, walkers and triathletes decide to challenge themselves by setting goals of going faster or farther. The first step to achieving that goal is to find a program that will ensure safe and effective training. The following questions and answers will provide some direction for finding the best program to help you achieve your 2014 goals.

What type of race and distance would be enjoyable for you?

In central Indiana, there are many opportunities to participate in organized events. Give some thought to what type of race would be fun for you: a charity 5K, a large half marathon, a rugged trail race, a sprint triathlon, a half Ironman triathlon, an open water swim, an obstacle run, etc. Once a decision is made regarding the type of race and distance, you can start looking for an appropriate training program or protocol.

How do you find a training protocol that will be safe, effective and FUN!

There are many sources of training protocols, programs and workout ideas. Consider one or more of the following options to determine what would be most effective for you:

1. Local training programs – Group training for a specific event is popular in central Indiana, especially for half and full marathons. Programs will often provide day-to-day training protocols, group camaraderie, training leaders, and post-workout refreshments. Typically, these event-specific groups do not meet year-round.

2. Sport-specific clubs – Indiana offers clubs for many different sports such as running, walking and race walking, cycling, triathlon, swimming, etc. Joining a club is an excellent way to meet new people who have similar interests. The clubs typically meet year-round, providing consistent support and motivation to help you stay focused on your new year’s resolutions. Depending on the club, race or event-specific training protocols may be provided.

3. Event websites and online protocols – A few events provide training programs via their website either for free or for a small fee. Generic training protocols can also be found on various websites that cater to specific types of athletes. While these canned programs can provide some direction for training, they may not always be appropriate your level of fitness.

4. Training books – Many books have been written about training for various events. Most of these publications will include detailed training protocols within the text. Purchasing a book will be helpful for any athlete who wants to learn more about their sport and for those who would prefer to train on their own.

5. Magazines – You can find an abundance of new ideas to keep training fresh in periodicals that are specific to your sport. So much so, that it can be overwhelming, so be discerning when deciding to incorporate new drills and workouts into your regimen. Make sure you understand the objective of a new workout and try the ones that will address your weaknesses while keeping your training fresh and fun.

6. Individual coaches – If you are looking for more personalized, one-on-one attention, then consider hiring a training coach. Look for individuals that: have degrees in exercise science or a related field; are certified through the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, USA Triathlon/Cycling/Swimming, or other national organizations; and have experience working with athletes. These professionals will develop a protocol that meets your needs and weekly schedule. It is a huge benefit to have a knowledgeable, experienced trainer to answer all your questions and address your specific concerns. Hiring a coach will likely be the most expensive option.

What else should you consider to ensure safe and effective training?

There are three other aspects of training for an event that are critical: have the right gear, include cross training in your weekly routine, and implement a personalized nutrition plan. The staff at Runners Forum will make sure that you have the right gear and appropriate shoes for any walking, running or multisport event. Cross training is any form of exercise that is different from your main sport. For example, runners should consider including strength training, biking and/or swimming in their weekly routines. Cross training helps to decrease the risk for injury, allows muscles to recovery more fully, and adds variety into your program. Runners Forum has been hosting yoga classes at their various locations which would be an excellent form of cross training! Finally, you will need to ensure that your daily nutrition and hydration needs are being met. By the mid-point of your training protocol, you should also have a proposed race day nutrition plan in place that can be practiced and tweaked before your big event.

Good luck and have fun achieving your 2014 goals!

If you are interested in developing a personalized nutrition plan, contact Heather Fink for an appointment. Heather can be reached at 317-443-6811 or Learn more about Heather on her website:

If you are training for a 5K, 10K or half marathon, consider the book Heather has written titled the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Half Marathon Training: Get Ready to Run or Walk a 5K, 10K or Half Marathon. The book contains fitness walking, run/walk and experienced exerciser protocols for each race distance. The book is sold at all Runners Forum locations.


For questions, or to schedule a coaching session, contact:
Heather Fink, MS, RD, CSSD
Nutrition and Wellness Solutions, LLC

table rounded bottom
table rounded bottom