Tips on Finding the Right Training Plan for You
Since starting this blog, I’ve had a downpour of texts, emails, and Facebook messages from people asking all types of running related questions. I get everything from recipes, to nutrition, to running, but by far, the one that is most commonly asked is on training plans.
There are so many training plans floating around the internet that it can be very hard to navigate. These tips will help you decipher how to find the one that is right for you.
I love answering questions so if you ever have any, feel free to submit them on the “Contact Me” tab. Obsessed runners never turn down the opportunity to talk about running.
Training plans, however, are a little more complicated. Unlike inquiries about Gels or knee pain, training plans can’t be given out as a “one size fits all” answer. A good training plan is devised through consideration of where you are, where you want to be, and the optimal way to get there. It takes into account all the comprehensive factors of a person including holistic health, lifestyle, and schedule.
The Best Training Plan
The first thing that I would do is ask yourself: “how serious am I about my running goal?”
If you are looking to finally break that 1:30 or 2:00 half or qualify for Boston, my number one suggestion is to consult a running coach.
Before I started working with Chris and BPC, I was sent a list of 13 questions to better assess my needs and aspirations. He took into account my work schedule, my weekly run groups, and how many hours I have to devote to running. He considered my PR’s in order to set the baseline for the paces of my workouts and even went so far as to ask about my nutrition, sleep, and my favorite aspects of running.
On the other hand, if you are less focused on a specific goal and are looking for a loose guideline for running, a generic plan might be perfect. But if you are about to type in “Training Plan” into google or Pinterest, at least consider these 6 factors of finding the one that’s right for you.
1. Starting point
Your training plan needs to meet you where you are. You don’t want a plan with a 6 mile long run scheduled for the first Saturday if you are coming from the couch.
2. End goal
You need a plan that is specific to your mileage and how fast you want to be. There are all sorts of plans ranging from a 5k to an ultra-marathon. Some plans are geared to having someone be able to finish a marathon and some are trying to break 3:00. This is very self explanatory, but it’s always good to be aware!
There is going to be a huge difference in the plan depending on how many months you have to train for it. I’ve seen some expedited regiments out there that you don’t want to rely on if you can afford the time. Again, you want to find one that works best for you, but I suggest you also start researching early so you don’t back yourself into a corner. Half marathon training plans are usually around 12-16 weeks and full marathons are mostly anywhere from 15-30.
I recommend taking each training plan with a grain of salt. Since it was written to cover a blanket of people, make sure that it can be flexible to your schedule. Some plans will have each long-run on Sundays, but it is your plan. If you have church all morning, switch things around and run it on Saturdays. This is also important because even though it’s getting you to the end goal, there might be some smaller races you want to do on the way and your training plan should be conducive to that.
Everyone is different on this one, I know I prefer higher intensity and more rest in my schedule, but others might do more easy days and less rest. No one out there will argue the importance of at least one rest day a week and plenty of time to taper before your big race.
I had a friend ask me for a training plan where he would only run 3-4 times a week and break 1:30 in the half marathon. First of all, you’re probably not going to find that specifically on the internet, but you can find one close and adapt it to your needs. Work, children, and other life demands are factors that need to be considered in your training plan.
What training goals are you working on?
Do you have a running coach?
Do you prefer more easy runs and less rest days or higher intensity with more rest days?