I have always found plans to be useless, but planning is indispensable.
~Dwight D Eisenhower
Sunrises lately have been ridiculous.
So last week I did one of my most favorite things: sat down and put together a training schedule. I put some serious time into the presentation of my training schedules (that are generally excel sheets that only I see), color coding and making them look like this:
Because where’s the fun if you don’t seize every time you open up your schedule.
So, 2 half marathons in the next 4 months (late March and late April). Time to get some structure up in these parts.
First: considering the fact it took me just about forever to feel normal running again, I am starting from the beginning. Novice training plans. No serious speedwork, no super hard runs. I am not shooting to PR at either of these races, I am just working to get my mileage base back since I’ve been out of the game so long and have found it so hard to get back.
Second: I have never been a competitive runner. I’ve never had a coach. I mostly run because just swimming all the time gets really boring. But I do understand the basic structure of a training schedule for an endurance sport (thank you, decade and a half of swimming and coaching) and have done enough recreational running/triathlons to know at the very least what some of my limitations are. Included in these are the fact that injuries tend to flare up when/if I:
- Do too many consecutive days of running (especially after long runs)
- Make every run a “hard” run
- Don’t foam roll before and after every run
- Don’t cross train/strengthen
One other thing that will be different this time around:
Yes, this. I am working full time, (trying to) coach in the mornings again, usually running on minimal sleep, and dealing with a tiny HH. Flexibility is really important.
When I put together a schedule for any race, I usually take a look at a few of the free options online (see: here, here, here, here for half marys…there are a ton) and build off of those. (Runners World also has some more detailed training plans for a variety of different levels, but they cost money.)
Hal Higdon was my go-to when I trained for my first marathon. Things I like about Hal’s approach:
- He incorporates cross training/strengthening into the schedule. It’s not just straight up running.
- He provides alternatives on days that are not speed days or heavy mileage days, giving the runner some flexibility.
- You can stick with his training schedule and avoid running multiple days in a row.
Elements of Hal’s novice schedules that don’t work great for me:
- The longest run on the schedule is significantly shorter than the race distance (10 miles for a half, 20 miles for a full). Personally, I like to have one run that is close to race distance under my belt before race day, especially at this stage when I’m building back into a solid fitness level.
- Race days are incorporated into the schedule. I like this in theory, but in reality it probably is not going to happen. Finding a 10K race somewhere in this region on one specific weekend requires a little too much logistical maneuvering than I am up for right now. At this point I am less concerned with speed, more concerned with getting that base mileage in.
And so, for this spring, I have taken Hal’s basic outline and combined it with a slightly different mileage structure, and after taking into account a few other things (such as the fact that the race is on a Saturday instead of a Sunday…)
And yes, I am calling this a spring training schedule even though it’s January.
I will not hit every single workout on here, but it is what I’m shooting for. I have, however, given myself five mandatory things I need to do each week (barring any extenuating circumstances, like an illness):
- Complete the long run of the week, even if it doesn’t happen on Saturday.
- Get at least 2 shorter runs in during the week, even if they aren’t the full distance.
- On the days I can’t get a run or cross-training session in, complete hip/core strengthening exercises for at least 10 minutes, just to maintain a certain level of strength.
- ROLL AND STRETCH before and after runs. Because (a lot) of times I am squeezing runs into very tight time slots, this can be harder than it sounds.
- Try to swim at least once a week at the very very least to stretch everything out.
You can also assume the majority of my cross training will be swimming (though the intensity/distance will vary), since I think I OD’ed on stationary machines the past 3 months.
Finished Week 1 yesterday. So far, so good.