Polar Running Program

Training for an event, and want to know how, how much and how often you should train? Whether you’re training for a 5k run or a marathon, Polar Running Program will help you get ready, and coach you all the way to the finish line.

Every runner is unique, and so is each Polar Running Program. It’s a personalized program based on your fitness level, designed to make sure that you train right and avoid overreaching. It’s intelligent, and adapts based on your development, and lets you know when it might be a good idea to cut back a little and when to step it up a notch. Each program is tailored for your event, taking your personal attributes, training background and preparation time into account.

The program is free, and available in the Polar Flow web service at www.polar.com/flow. All you need is a Polar account – create one in the web service if you don’t already have one. 

Read more about the Polar Running Program.

Basics

The Polar Running Program is based on training in the right heart rate zone, and the science behind the Polar Heart Rate Zones is the cornerstone of the program. Heart rate is unique and personal, and therefore a reliable way to determine exercise intensity, and a valid and widely acknowledged tool to measure physical condition and development.

In the program, training is divided into five intensity zones based on percentages of your maximum heart rate - in each zone your body will experience a different physiological effect. Training is split between these five zones optimally to give you the right kind of program for your target event. Your maximum heart rate is estimated based on your age but if you know your clinically measured maximum heart rate, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds you can also manually set the zone limits based on them.

Programs are available for 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon events. Running training sessions are divided into five types: easy jog, medium run, long run, tempo run and interval. All sessions include warm-up, work, and cool-down phases for optimal results. In addition, you can choose to do strength, core, and mobility exercises to support your development. Each training week consists of two to five running sessions, and the total running training session duration per week varies from one to seven hours depending on your fitness level. The minimum duration for a program is 9 weeks, and the maximum is 20 months.

The minimum durations for each program are:

  • 5K - 9 weeks
  • 10K - 10 weeks
  • Half marathon - 14 weeks
  • Marathon - 14 weeks

Phases

Each program has three phases: Base building, Build-up and Tapering. These phases are designed to gradually develop your performance, and make sure you’re ready on race day.

Base building: This period helps you build a solid fitness base. Made up of four-week sets that include three weeks of progressive training followed by one lighter week. Training recommendations are checked every four weeks and updated according to your training realization. It has 11 levels – this makes sure everyone gets the right program for their fitness level.

After each four-week set, you have the option to continue on the same level, progress to the next one, or take one step back. The program will give you a suggestion based on how well you’ve been able to follow the program but it’s up to you to choose how to continue. Note that if you haven’t quite reached your goals, and the program suggests you to go back a level, you cannot choose to go up a level. If you’ve progressed well, and reached your goals, and the program suggests you to proceed to the next level, you cannot go back a level.

Build-up: When the groundwork is laid, it's time to start optimizing your training for the selected event. This phase is built around three-week sets, each consisting of two progressive weeks and one lighter one, with the second progressive week being harder than the first. This period has five levels, and the progression is built-in, so you won’t be asked if you want to move to the next level at any point.

Tapering: The tapering period leads up to race day. These are the last two to three weeks of the program. In this phase your training volume is reduced to help your body to prepare for the event. This is essential for optimal performance by ensuring sufficient recovery.

Supporting exercises

The program also includes strength, core and mobility exercises for improving common weaknesses and to support your preparation for the event. The exercises target the hips, hamstrings, glutes, back, ankles and abs. These will further improve your running performance and may prevent injuries.

You can choose the level of difficulty for strength and core training, but we advise you to start from level one if you don't have a lot of experience in strength training or this type of movements. After about four to eight weeks you can move up to the next difficulty level with strength and core exercises. However, change the level with one of them at a time to give your body time to adjust. A few weeks later you can then change the level for another one. Check out the right techniques from the videos by clicking the session in the Flow web service or app.

You can use dynamic stretching as part of your endurance or strength sessions to warm up or cool down. Both dynamic and static stretching can also be separate training sessions to improve your range of motion. You can include stretching in your program several times a week.

Compatible devices

The program can be performed with select Polar Flow compatible Polar training devices. The only requirement is that you have heart rate measurement.

With these devices running session targets can be synced to your device, and you get real-time guidance during training.

  • Polar V800
  • Polar A300
  • Polar A360
  • Polar A370
  • Polar M200
  • Polar M400
  • Polar M430
  • Polar M600

With the following devices running sessions cannot be synced as training targets, but when training with heart rate measurement your time accumulated in each heart rate zone is recorded. No guidance is available during training.

  • Polar Loop
  • Polar Loop 2
  • Polar Loop Crystal