A friend of mine recently asked me for advice on a training plan to follow for a half marathon that they were thinking of doing. It was a similar time last year when I recommended MY ASICS to him in preparation for the Stratford half that he had recently signed up for.

MY ASICS was easy to follow, and perfect for beginners. After inputting some simple information about yourself, such as age, gender and a recent race finish time, the system would provide you with a 3 or 4-day training plan with a target pace for each run. However, shortly after the Stratford half, the free version of MY ASICS was removed.

Runkeeper, a running app similar to Strava, is owned by ASICS and they seemingly decided to migrate both apps/systems into one, therefore offering training plans via the Runkeeper platform. This new bolt on to the existing app comes as part of a Runkeeper Go subscription, which comes at a cost, £7.99 per month or £29.99 for a year.

Already aware of this change, he contacted me to see if there were any other free versions available. Given my recent trial, and relatively positive reaction so far, to one of the free plans offered by The Running Bug, I directed him there. Along with a bunch of useful advice, The Running Bug had a whole host of training plans available on their site, ranging from couch to 5k right through to ultra marathon. I say had, because this week The Running Bug website was closed, suddenly and unexpectedly it seems. Navigating to their home page brings the following message. Luckily, I had transferred their half marathon plan, that I plan to use for the Coventry half, onto a detailed spreadsheet, in true engineer fashion.

Training plans for running are now a big business it seems, as so many charge for offering bespoke programs, or even generic ones in some cases. McMillan Running charge $25 per month, VDOT charge anything from $40 to $100 for a single plan, Training Peaks $20-$40 and the list goes on. Following a recent repackaging of their premium offering, Strava appears to be one of the most reasonably priced out there, with their training package available for just £1.58 per month when billed annually. Add roughly another £1 if you prefer a monthly commitment.

I’ve yet to try any of the above plans, mainly because I’ve always refused to pay for one, but as more free resources disappear with companies seeking to capitalise on what seems to be a growing market, I fear this may not last too much longer.

For now though, there are still some free plans available. I’ve mentioned TrainAsONE on this site before and they still offer a free version of their subscription service. I mentioned the TAO platform to the person in question and he was put off by the assessment runs and the frequency of them. It’s certainly not for everyone. There’s also free plans available on Garmin Connect, although I’m not sure if these are available unless you have a Garmin device. Runners World and Nike Run Club also offer free plans and there are a number of others available on sites similar to this. It just may take a bit of Googling.

I seem to have acquired a few training plans over recent years in the form of PDF’s. I’ve no idea where I go them from so I’m reluctant to post the files on the site, but if there’s anything in particular that you’re after, get in touch and I would be happy to forward anything on that I have, FOC of course.

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