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Training Plans

One of the biggest keys that people always forget when looking for a training plan is that it has to fit you. It has to match the days you work out and it has to be for YOU. It seems to me that sometimes people get so obsessed with a given training plan or finding a training plan that they forget about who is doing all the training in the first place. If this means you have to sit down and write up your own training plan, so be it, but just make sure that the training plan is right for you.

I am a firm believer in the fact that anyone can run, anytime. Not just by being chased but you can run. Running may not always be easy, it may not always be fun, but you can do it. I also believe that the easiest way to injury and burn out is starting to fast. If you want to just start out and have absolutely no base, I have heard the best things about the couch to 5k plan. It sounds strange to start out walk running but it’s the best way to start. If your start out going to run two miles, the next day you’ll be sore, tired and will not want to run again. Not smart. Start slow, and allow your body time to heal and get used to running.

Another big thing is that you CAN change any training plan. I have had people ask me about a certain training plan and then they say something like, “But I just don’t want to do track workouts on Wednesday, I would just like to run nice easy mileage that day.” Um… Okay? So do it! You don’t have to follow the training plan to an exact science, all training plans are suggestions of improvement. There are SO many different training plans out there and you can use whatever part of them you want, piecing together a training plan that works for you is so important.

Lastly, before I go into some good links where I’ve found training plans is don’t get obsessed with your training plan. Some people would kill someone to if they don’t get their 6 mile tempo run in on Thursday evening because they had to stay late at work. Guess what? Stuff like this happens in real life and you have to be realistic with this plan. Sometimes when you oversleep and don’t get your workout in, it’s not the end of the world. You won’t completely ruin yourself for missing just one day. Don’t make it a habit to skip out on workouts, but also don’t pick a six day plan when you know you can only workout four days a week. Stuff comes up, life continues whether your training or not, and getting obsessive with your training plan isn’t going to help anyone improve.

So when choosing and looking at training plans think about yourself, think about what works for you, and think about your overall goal. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to just finish a race? Do you want to improve your time?

When I first started back into racing and signed up for the Long Beach Half Marathon for October 2008, I found a simple plan on Runner’s World (that was free, just keep searching) and followed the plan loosely. The key to running distances is upping your mileage. On the week days I ran 3-4 days a week pending my schedule and ran one 6 mile run, one 4 mile run and then a 2-4 mile run. On my longer run days, I upped my mileage every weekend by one mile until I got to 10 miles. I started with 6 miles. It doesn’t seem like that much but each weekend I was amazed at how much farther I could run. I did not, I repeat, DID NOT work on any type of speed work or timed runs. I just ran. So many people get so caught up in getting faster, what their time what, what their pace was. Enjoy it! Don’t worry about your time all the time! There will be a time and place for that, but if you are just going out and running, just enjoy it. Guess what, I’m not going to the Olympics anytime soon. I’m not going to be the fastest girl at the marathon, so you know what, time doesn’t really matter all that much to me.

Perhaps it’s possibly the fact that when racing in high school I was so obsessed with my times and splits and counting this and my pace of that, that now it doesn’t matter to me, and I just go out and enjoy running and the ability to run, but that might just be me, because I do know a lot of number obsessed people and there is nothing wrong with that, but for me, it’s not about how fast I run or what this is compared to this.

So back to plans. Then for San Diego I followed a six day plan that was made personally for me by a friend. Too intense for me, but you can find a plan similar to my plan if you follow a Hal Higdon plan. There are also plans that are by Pfitz and those are too intense for me at this time. Google both those names and you can find a plethora of training plans by them. They both have also written books if you are interested in taking a peek at your local bookstore. You can find so many different training plans on Runner’s World, that is where I get a lot of my ideas. BUT I would NEVER pay for a ‘training plan’ you can come up with that on your own. Just think about your mileage and plot something out on a calendar if you are just looking to complete a race. Speed workout might be a little different, but that is also not my focus at this time.

I wanted to put links to specific plans in here, but I didn’t want people to get into one plan just because it was on my website. I think that finding a plan that is suitable for you not only makes training fun and helpful, but it also makes it personal. Google, Google, Google!

There are so many resources out there for people who are looking for a training plan. Google it, go to a local small running store and ask questions, go to the library or book store and look in the running section. Google is your best friend when it comes to stuff like this. You can find so many answers online just by searching for training plans, and if you find something that you remotely like but one day is off or two days are not looking how you’d like… CHANGE IT! It’s YOURS! :) Remember it’s all about you and your goals. It’s okay to tweak this here and change this here.

Also, I posted about the training I went through for Long Beach here. Remember, right now I’m NOT running for time so I don’t do speed workouts. You can see how I upped my mileage for Long Beach and just kept it pretty consistent throughout my training. My long runs became longer and before I knew it, it was race day. I was not interested in speed at this moment so that does not matter for me. I hope this was helpful!

As for me, I’m going to take this week off as well. My body is so run down and I just need to sleep and rest. I am still feeling a bit under the weather and though I’m getting a bit antsy to run and workout again I am going to stop the vicious cycle I’ve created and just rest. Soon I’ll be back and I can’t wait to go over my NEW training plan for the Surf City Half Marathon! :)


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  • Reply Brie (The Fit Bride)

    I agree. I’m starting my half marathon training plan on January 3rd, and I’ve adapted a Hal Higdon plan to fit my schedule and needs. No way could I work out 6 days a week–I need 2 days of rest, minimum, to perform well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not rocket science–just run, and build your distance slowly. How you get there is up to you!

    December 15, 2009 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Liana

    Great reinforcement for “my friend” who can sometimes get a bit obsessive about her training plan. I, I mean my friend, can get caught up like she’s being paid to race. Thanks for your insight. I’ll be sure my friend reads and heeds your advice. :)

    December 15, 2009 at 7:49 am
  • Reply heather

    I agree with starting with Couch to 5K. I did it this summer and was amazed that it trained a lazy person like me to be a runner.

    December 15, 2009 at 7:57 am
  • Reply nicole

    I couldn’t agree more! I learned a lot in the past 6 months from training for these marathons! I can’t wait to put it to good use! :)

    December 15, 2009 at 8:04 am
  • Reply Nicki

    What a GREAT GREAT GREAT post! I really needed to hear what you said about timing. I am a newbie runner training for a half in March. I’m slower than a turtle, and it’s really got me down, but reading your post encouraged me to not worry so much about it. Thanks for your continued encouragement to me and other runners!! You’re an inspiration! :)

    December 15, 2009 at 8:30 am
  • Reply Marci

    This is a very timely post, I need a new training plan for my spring marathon.. and I want to mix it up a little. Good idea to take another week to rest up!

    December 15, 2009 at 9:10 am
  • Reply Amanda

    I started running with couch to 5k and worked my way up to a half marathon in a year! Its an amazing program and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about starting to run.

    December 15, 2009 at 9:23 am
  • Reply Julia

    I completely made my own plan for my marathon training… then totally ditched it as I was getting hurt… but still managed to run my first marathon! I definitely agree with you about customizing training plans.

    December 15, 2009 at 9:42 am
  • Reply Jamie

    Good advice! Funny thing… I was thinking about doing that Surf City Half… in Feb right? Hmmm I just don’t knwo if I will have the funds for the flight and staying down there. Hmmmm maybe I drive? LOL

    December 15, 2009 at 9:59 am
  • Reply Alisa

    I have always been the type of person that combines like 8 plans into one. =)

    December 15, 2009 at 10:07 am
  • Reply Pete

    Great advice supporting the more laissez faire approach to running schedules! You do a great job logically convincing people it is possible to do “the crazy stuff,” both by example and in words.

    A guideline I use when ramping up for distance is the 10% rule — your long run, as well as your total weekly mileage, should not be more than 10% than the previous week. (You did this by adding one mile at a time, woo!)

    See you at the Surf City 1/2!

    December 15, 2009 at 11:22 am
  • Reply Hethir

    While plans are useful I have to remind myself the whole reason I am doing this is to have fun and enjoy running!

    December 15, 2009 at 12:46 pm
  • Reply Patience

    I used the couch to 5k program to get back into running and it was amazing. Thanks for this post. I keep going back and forth about training for a 1/2..we shall see.

    December 15, 2009 at 2:18 pm
  • Reply Lara

    Good points, and well said! I like the links, too. My hubby started out doing the walk/run/walk thing, and has moved up to running a 5K. Woo-hoo!

    December 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm
  • Reply Spike

    great post, training plans are important, but being flexible is even more important, life will happen during training.

    December 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply aron

    ohhh i love me a training plan :) i definitely agree – making them work for YOU is key!

    December 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm
  • Reply Brittany

    I agree…listen to your body change you training plan as needed. That does not mean not being displined and working hard – it means being wise.

    December 16, 2009 at 6:02 am
  • Reply Tiffany

    It’s like you wrote this just for me. :) I have been trying to start running but It’s just not fun!! Not that it will ever be “fun”, but I am hoping that over time it gets a bit easier and I can enjoy it…because right now I downright hate it. HA!

    December 16, 2009 at 7:28 am
  • Reply Nikki

    Wait!!! You’re doing Surf City Half??? SO AM I!!! It’s going to be my first half after I got hit by a semi (not while running) and broke my leg training for one earlier this year.

    Of course, now I have a soleus injury so my training plan has changed. Again. GAH!

    December 16, 2009 at 11:52 am
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