creating a training plan

The best way to get motivated is not only to have a specific goal in mind, but to have one that you can visualize and check your progress on a daily basis. This means create a training plan. Some people get intimidated by the idea of creating one: “Where do I start?” “How fast do I run?” “How much time should I give myself?” Well, here’s my advice on how to overcome this feat.

    1. Determine your speed. The best way to do this is to sign-up for a race. Although I’m not one to talk (my first race ever was a half-marathon), I would recommend starting with a 5k. Some resources include:
      • Runner’s World Race Finder
      • Cool Running
      • If you’re in NYC: NYRR
      • No upcoming races or nothing in the area? You can always head to a track at a local high school and time yourself.
    2. Extrapolate and project. Once you find out what your time is and decide you want to do something bigger and better, use a fancy pace calculator to see what is likely possible. My favorite (and I’m sure many runners will agree) is McMillan’s pace calculator. It’s awesome. For real. You enter your actual pace for whatever length you have available (800m, mile, 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, etc) and then select the kind of race you are training for and what you would like to accomplish.For example: my best time so far is the half I did in October of last year. I put in 1:55:25 for 1/2 marathon and then 4:00:00 for a full marathon. Once I do that, I get this amazingly helpful table:2013.03.trainingpace
      Obviously, the more experience you gain will lead to better times. You should also try to use longer races when predicting longer races, i.e. it is more effective to use a half-marathon time to predict a marathon time than it is to use a 1 mile pace or 5k pace. Sustaining a pace is much different. In my case, I feel like I can run forever but I struggle to run super fast. Clearly I just need to do more speed training so that becomes less of an issue.
    3. Find/create the appropriate training schedule. For simplicity, I love using Hal Higdon’s training schedules. He has so many prepared that you have no excuse to say you don’t know what you should be doing each day. Most importantly, they are free! The type of race you do will determine how long you should train. Depending on your experience, you should allocate 4-6 weeks for a 5k, 6-8 weeks for a 10k, 12 weeks for a half-marathon, and 16-18 weeks for a full marathon.
      • Hal Higdon’s training schedules
      • Runner’s World also has some that you can purchase, or you can use their SmartCoach resource for free as well.
      • Your local running store may provide training so make sure to check there. If you’re in NYC, JackRabbits is my go-to for training. I did their marathon training last fall for the NYC Marathon (luckily, the MS Society partnered up so I was able to do the training for free), but they also have several free runs during the week that you can utilize to get your training done. Just sign up for their email!
    4. Print out and post everywhere. The more often you see your training, the more you are reminded that you have a plan and should stick to it. Some of you may not have that problem, but others it will be harder. You have to become disciplined if you want to meet your goal. I save it on my phone, have copies hanging at my desk at work, and put up in my room as well.

I am still finalizing my training for 2013, but I am planning to do the Personal Best schedule from Hal Higdon. It’s 30 weeks, but it’s just a combination of the Intermediate Spring Program + Intermediate 1 Marathon. Check my Schedule page in the next week or so to see a PDF version of my training.

How do you prepare for a race? Do you actually create a detailed plan or go by rule of thumb, e.g. run 5 times a week, make 1 long, 1 tempo based, 1 sprint based, 2 easy?


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