Remember, Train smart, not hard!
Many runners train way too hard. As a society, we have been programmed in the philosophy, “No pain, no gain.” It is counter intuitive but this philosophy doesn’t work in any long term running program.
Just the opposite as most running should be easy and relaxed. At least 80 percent of running should be at an easy or moderate pace. We go into more detail in the Magic Formula for all running.
There are times to run hard, sometime very hard! But these are select and targeted runs.
So, with the understanding of the above philosophy, a plan can be developed that hopefully meshes with your goals.
The first step is to identify what is necessary to complete your goals. The loose concept of reverse engineering is helpful to develop the overall plan. For example; looking at different sources to reach a goal, whether it be finish a marathon, or run a very fast time is a starting point. This is also the time to be brutally honest. Once you see what it takes to hit that particular time or to even finish, if the plan is unworkable, then it may be time to change the goal to a more realistic time or move down to a shorter race.
Let’s take an ambitious example of a person whose goal is to break the three-hour barrier. This person has a decent running background, running five days a week with max mileage of around 50 miles and has run a few marathons under three hours and twenty minutes. They have a limited amount of time of five months before their next marathon, and they want to maintain a 5 day a week schedule with the same mileage.
At this point, one would reverse engineer what needs to happen over this course of time to see if the goals square with the plan. By looking at the Three Hour and under charts they can see they would have at minimum a 6 or 7-day commitment for five months with Mileage in the range of 60 to 75 miles. Also,this same person packed on an extra 20lbs over the holidays. It is important to be honest and see goals do not square up to the current plan.
Now, either the goals must change or the current plan needs to be adjusted to a more realistic approach.
The three-hour goal is within the realm of possibilities. This runner has the ability providing he loses some of the weight and can add more days.
So when crafting a plan based on the goals a person sets for themselves, it is essential to be brutally honest. As we said in the goal section, It is also OK to readjust goals in advance if the plans do not mesh with your ability or your time commitment. It is better to have attainable goals rather than esoteric and lofty goals that have limited chance at success
Once the goals and the overall plan mesh, the next step is to break down the large plan into actionable steps.
Divide the training program into two phases. The Build up phase (Base training) and the Workout Phase.
There are more details in the Base training section. Our goal is to build up to our target mileage.
Identify areas that need to be targeted and incorporate workouts that match those goals.
Use three-point estimations when creating your plan
This technique forces you to confront the different options by asking you to identify three different pieces of data:
- A best-case scenario
- A worst-case scenario
- A most likely scenario
When developing the plan keep in mind that every race is different. For example, If the marathon is in the summer and heat may be a factor, then it may be helpful to schedule some runs in the hotter part of the day. If it is a downhill marathon like Boston, then schedule some long runs that are predominately downhill. It is crucial your plan address specific issues either in your running or to the race. Training is not like school where you can wait until the date of the race gets close and cram all you need to do in the few weeks.
In the Workout Training section, the motto is to attack our weakness and build on our strength.
Every runner is different, and has different needs. For runners, under the 3-hour range, the focus may be on more speed whereas people in the five-hour span may focus on running trying to run at a sustained pace. This is why plans for one person often aren’t helpful for another.
Just like big goals, break the plans into smaller and smaller elements.
For example if there is a plan for to speed session during the week, have the workouts drafted out on paper a few days in advance. This will shape the other plans for the week. It is better to draft weekly plans at the beginning of the week as opposed to say a month in advance as circumstances change.
Have an out line what you would like to accomplish, but save they specifics as the dates get closer. This includes your daily workouts. For example if you have a steep hill workout that climbs 100 ft, maybe the goal that day is to make it to the top without walking. But lets say, you do not feel so good when you get up. Well do the same workout but readjust the goal to where you may take walk breaks, but you hope not to have to come to a complete stop. In this case we had an overall goal, then we created a plan for that goal, then we had a sub goal for the plan.
Now the next rule of life is plans go awry. It doesn’t matter if it is a six-month training plan or a plan for the race itself. Rarely does a plan go precisely as one expects. So knowing this. It is imperative not to get upset or emotional when things aren’t going as expected.
Adapt and Adjust!
Those two words may be the most important pair on this website. It is often the difference between success and failure.