Thursday was a workout and a half (12 x 400 with 400 recovery). My first speed session in like....well.... it felt like ever but probably since I ran with a running group a few years ago. So that hurt. In a good, I will get stronger sort of way. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
This weekend I am off to Colorado for wedding fun with a side of higher altitude running. I was trying to decide if I need to make any tweaks to my training plan but I think I can fit it all in. I am under way with training for fall marathons. After three marathons and one million half marathons (okay 29) I have discovered a thing or two about training plans.
The most important thing to know about training plans- there is no magical one. They all come with slightly different advice and science to support them. If there was one training plan that resulted in a PR every time or worked for everyone then we would all be using it. Unfortunately it is not that simple. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking a training plan.
1) Your level of running expertise- i.e. how much mileage have you been running. How much mileage do you like running. If you only want to run four times a week picking a high mileage six day a week plan like the Hansons method is not going to sit well with you. The same thing goes if you have only been running 10 to 15 miles a week and try to jump into an elite training plan. Be optimistic but realistic in picking a plan that will work for you.
2) Your life. Consider your life. How much time do you have to devote to training. I don't have kids but I do work at least 40 hours a week and know that my busy season is coming up. This means that my life is about to become run, work, sleep, repeat. But I am okay and feel able to do this. If you don't have or don't want to devote as much time to training pick a training plan that takes less time. This is not taking the easy way, this is setting yourself up for success.
3) Be flexible. I don't think I have ever met anyone who was able to complete a training plan as prescribe without deviating a bit. As D once said to be- training plans are a guide. If you do 80% of it you are prepared. I agree with this statement. Injury, weather, life happen. Don't let it totally derail you but just let a missed run, missed runs, or week off due to injury go and move on.
4) Eye on the prize but appreciate the journey. The marathon/ half marathon/ 5K whatever you are training for is the main event no doubt. But appreciate all the work you are putting in along the way. Each week is a challenge and should be acknowledged. I find it easier to focus on what I need to accomplish each week. Crossing each training day off as I go. Looking at it all at once can induce panic (you want me to run how many miles this week, month, training cycle..... holy crap) but breaking it down piece by piece keeps it manageable. Appreciating the journey also makes less then stellar weather conditions, course mishaps, or whatever might pop up race day less devastating.
5) Keep track of what works and what doesn't for the next go round. I think all the treadmill running I was forced to do this winter helped me stay injury free even when running higher mileage than I have ever run before. I will continue to run on the treadmill this training cycle even though I could probably do all runs outside because it is easier on my body and staying injury free remains a priority for me since I have a wacky stride. Same goes for hip exercises and ab work. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
What is your favorite training plan?
How did you pick your current training plan?