How do you prepare for a race?
Are you the type of runner that tries to get ready for a race without following any type of training plan? (I’ve been there, done that. Don’t advise it.)
Do you have a coach that creates your training plan for you, so you don’t need to worry about balancing mileage increases, recovery weeks, speed work, and everything else that goes into a well rounded plan?
Or are you somewhere in the middle? Do you know you need a training plan to follow, but know that just downloaded one of the “one-size-fits-all” plans is far from ideal. And as much as you might like to work with a coach, and have him/her write your training plan for you, it’s just not in the budget at the moment.
If that sounds like you, I want to help making the process of writing your own training plan a little bit easier.
5 Things to Remember When Writing Your Own Training Plan
- What Has Your Training Been Like? Your training plan is going to build off of what you’ve been doing for the past several weeks and months. If you’ve done the work to build and solidify your base, you’re able to hit the ground running with your training plan. If you haven’t, then you’ll need to be slightly more cautious. But being honest with where you are in this step is huge for reducing the risk of injury and setting yourself up for successfully achieving your goals for the race. Speaking of which…
- Define Your Goals. What are you trying to achieve in your race? You need to know that before you get started. What your goal is really doesn’t matter, but having clarity about the goal is vital. Once you have your goal in mind…
- Work Backwards. Get your calendar out, find the day of the race, and start counting backwards to today. How much time do you have between race day and today? Knowing how much time you have left before the race allows you to realistically assess whether or not you have time to achieve you goals. You can’t go from running 5 mile long runs to a 20 miler in just a couple of weeks unless you’re willing to play injury roulette. Once you have seen the timeline, you can recalibrate your goals (if necessary) or start mapping out your training plan. But don’t forget…
- “Easy” Weeks Are Important. At least a few times while you are training, you’re going to want to dial back the volume to allow your legs to recover before upping the ante again the next week. A good rule of thumb is to dial back the mileage at least once a month during your training cycle. For instance: if you ran a 10 miler 2 weeks ago, 11 miles last week, and 12 this week, it would be wise to drop back down to like 10ish miles next week. Then the week after, you can keep increasing up to 13 or so miles. And don’t forget to include your taper before the race either! One last reminder…
- Writing a Training Plan is More Art than Science. When you are putting your training plan together, remember it is just that: a plan. And plans often have to change. I promise you that you’re training plan is going to change more than once between now and race day, so don’t get too bent out of shape when “life” forces your hand. It’s ok. Alter and adjust your plan, and then keep moving forward.
It’s Not Easy to Write a Good Training Plan
Believe me, I know!
But it’s worth it. It’s why I do what I do, and it’s so much fun helping my clients get to the finish line of whatever race they are running.
Look, I totally understand that not everyone can hire me to write their training plan for them, and that is fine.
That said, please do yourself a favor and take the time to put together a good plan for yourself to follow instead of just downloading some “intermediate training plan for marathoners”. It’ll be worth it at the finish line, I promise.
And if you need a little help putting your plan together, just ask. I’ll be more than happy to offer a few suggestions to help you get over your hurdle.