While there are many things I hope to accomplish this year, there’s only one goal that really matters to me when all is said and done: to qualify for Boston.
And if you’re wondering what “Boston” is, you’re reading the wrong blog. In fact, I bet you understand that when I say “qualify for Boston,” that’s Runnerese for I’m aiming high and need a solid training plan to get me there.
Choosing a training plan with such an important goal to achieve, is no small task, so today let’s discuss the finer points of choosing the right training plan.
I’ve gone back and forth about how I should create my training plan. Should I hire a coach? Consult running books? Use a “stock” training plan I find on the interwebs? Let’s go through the decision-making process step-by-step. Below are the questions we need to ask ourselves in determining what kind of training plan we’re going to use to reach our goals. I answer each one and give you my thought process in how I come to my decision.
Should I wing it or use a plan?
Should I even create a training plan at all? Maybe I should just wing it. After all, Matt Fitzgerald in the book Run advises that we train by listening to our bodies and incorporating a set variety of workouts according to how we feel. But let’s face it. I’m type-A. I need a plan. Plus, if I only ran what I wanted too, I’d only do long runs. Having a plan will force me out of my comfort zone, which is key to making the kinds of improvements I need to make to meet my goal.
Should I use a stock plan or a custom plan?
So, I know I need a plan, but should it be a “stock” training plan or a custom plan? For me, I think I need a custom plan because any canned plan from a book or website won’t be tailored to what I need as a runner. I feel I need more running days than normally recommended. Also, most plans don’t include a run or two at marathon distance. Mentally, I need to know I can run 26 miles before race day, even though I’ve done it at least five times before.
Should I hire a coach or draft my own plan?
Finally, most coaches don’t get people like me who have lost a ton of weight, at least in my own experience. So after consulting my own running books I decided to create my own training plan and incorporate the things I knew I needed: long runs, hill training, speedwork, rest, and Yasso 800’s (if you haven’t already, definitely read about Clove’s close encounter with Bart Yasso, the man behind the infamous workout).
So now that I know what kind of training plan I want, I have to write it up. Here’s what I came up with:
Oh yeah. The data analysis control freak inside of me LOVES this.
Here’s the key:
Purple: The mid-training plan rest week. I made this a longer training plan on purpose, so I could take a “rest” week in the middle of training. I get burnt out (and injured) when I run too much for too long, so I’m including this week mid-training plan to give my body a break before the high mileage weeks begin.
Pink: Normal training weeks. I’m alternating my long run distances, doing 12 miles every other week and then increasing my mileage by 2 miles. These are endurance runs, so I need them to be slow (and I’m taking walk breaks). Because I love a long run without walk breaks, I’ve added 10 mile runs mid-week to keep me sane and because I like them so much. I also have a hill workout and speed workout every week too. Three times in the training cycle I have Yasso 800’s, to see where my speed is and to guage improvement. I better have them at 3:30 by the end of the training plan or no BQ for me!
Green: Tapering weeks. I’m not a fan of the three week taper. It simply doesn’t work for me. Two weeks is what I need to give my body a break without going FOR REAL crazy.
Blue: Marathon week.
Overall, the planned mileage will look like this:
I know the running nerd in you loves this chart. The actual line will change every week as I log my mileage. Pretty darn nerdy. And awesome.
At the end of the day, I did choose to create a training plan. But the key is flexibility. If I’m not feeling a certain run one day I’ll mix it up. I need a plan, yes, but I still need to listen to my body and run what I can when I can. This training plan isn’t a dictate, it’s more like a suggestion. A really structured specific suggestion.
How would you answer the training plan questions? Do you have any quirky must haves in your plan?