Reassessing the Training Plan

This summer truly beat us all down with the extreme temperatures.  Since running in the heat is my Achilles heel, I feel kind of proud that I managed to run as much as I did.  It was certainly a challenge, and it definitely has had an impact on my training.

Last weekend I decided to reassess my training plan. I realized it was too ambitious, considering the challenges. My planned weekly mileage was too high and was causing me to need two days of recovery between some runs, where normally I would only need one.  This meant some weeks I was only getting in three runs a week, which isn’t enough for a marathon–especially when I’m not doing any cross-training (which is a whole other issue in itself).

Over the years I’ve discovered that four days a week of running works best for me, especially at my age.  When I trained for Boston I ran five days, but the soreness never went away.  A few days out from the race I felt overtrained and not well-rested, and wound up getting sick the day I arrived in Boston.  It was a high price to pay for all that work, and in a race that meant so much to me.

I’ve known people who run only three days a week and swear by it.  Most of them do some type of cross-training, though, and that’s always been another weakness of mine.  At the start of this training plan I tried to do yoga a few times a week in addition to my running, but it made my muscles so sore that it really affected my running.  After this next marathon I’m definitely going to pick up the yoga again and shoot for doing it at least twice a week.  Even “just” walking everyday would help.

I knew when I first made my training plan that trying to do two midweek 8-10 milers, in addition to a Saturday long run, was unrealistic.  Now that I’m 10 weeks out, I need to tweak the plan to make it more realistic.  This is, after all, not my first rodeo.

After checking all my marathon books and comparing the various training plans, I decided to plug my numbers in to the Smart Coach program on the Runner’s World website.  It was actually a decent plan, and it told me exactly what I wanted to hear, namely that I can do two 4 mile easy runs, a 6-10 mile midweek run (either tempo, hills, or track), and a long run, and be ready for the race.  This is essentially the plan I’ve followed for every other marathon I’ve run, and it’s worked.  I’ve decided to stick to the tried and true.

I know I should be doing more speedwork, but it’s honestly my least favorite type of workout.  The bottom line is, at the moment I’m just not as concerned with my speed as I used to be.  I’d rather do hills than trackwork any day and in the past running hills has always made me faster and stronger.  Tempo runs I can also live with, but track–ugh.

I think I’m a true long distance runner.  I don’t really hit my stride until after five or six miles, then I’m good to go.  5K’s are torture for me.  Running flat out until I want to puke is not my idea of fun.  I guess I’d rather prolong the torture over 26.2 miles, and at a slower pace.



  1. Steve J

    Adaptation and flexibility is the key to any training program! I find that with my job, period travel and family, my training programs never fully work. Yet somehow I usually seem to enjoy the training more than the actual run. By the way… what’s a 5K plan look like, do they teach you how to collapse once you cross the finish?

    • Run Nature

      I’ve actually seen 5K training plans in Runner’s World before. Of course, I brush right past them and go straight to the half and full marathon plans. I also always enjoy the training more than the race.

  2. Christina

    I am in the place you described — running 5-6 days a week but being sore ALL the time … the best thing we can do I think is — at several points during training season — do a serious physical-self inventory and tweak the plan accordingly.

  3. Genevieve

    Once again you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth. I think this season has been so tough because of the extreme heat and now my motivation and confidence seems to have left with it.

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s