In Training

It seems that every time I sign up for a marathon, I find myself wondering what training plan I should use.  For the two that I’ve done so far, I’ve used the same training plan.  The first time I used it, I chose it because it looked like a great plan for a new marathoner.  And it was.  The second time, it was because I sort of felt like I had hemmed and hawed a bit too much about starting an 18-week program (you know, I just didn’t manage to get started on my training that early), and because I felt like maybe I wasn’t in good enough shape to do the length of long run I had to do right off the bat.  I was still pleased with my performance in the marathon, though.  Clearly it’s a good plan.  This time around, though, I really want to try something new, and mostly just for the experience of trying something new.

I always get a little bit silly when it comes to training plans.  I’m very picky about them, and I always want something with high peak mileage and more than just one or two 18-20 mile runs.  Of course the problem is, I never really put myself in a position to do a training plan like that.  For the past three years, before beginning my training for Philadelphia, I’ve been in somewhat mediocre shape.  I think I’m just bad at training during the summer.  One of these years, though (like, next year), I’m going to set myself for a great training plan.

For now, I’m still sort of undecided about what I want to use as a plan, even though I’m 16 weeks away from the big event and, in my opinion, at a point where I need to start training.  So I have.  Unfortunately, the week hasn’t gone that well and I’ve a pretty small amount of time to myself.  I’ve also been pretty sleep deprived.  As a result, my first run of the week was today.  That’s not the end of the world, though.  This still gives me four quality run days for the week, and a chance to do better next week.  But there’s still the issue of which plan I will use.

First, I tried the Runner’s World Smart Coach tool.  This gave me a plan where I was running three times a week with peak mileage at around 30 miles a week.  I know I’m not in the best shape right now, but I know I can push myself harder than that, and I’d like to.  So I’m not crazy about that plan.  Then I looked at this plan, which is like everything I’ve ever wanted from a training plan.  But I think it’s sort of beyond my abilities, and I don’t want to set myself up for failure.  So I looked at the beginner version, which just didn’t appeal to me.  I think it had something to do with the mid-week 10-mile runs, which I just don’t have time for, and the jump from 32 miles one week to 39 the next, and the random switching from 4 runs a week to 3.  I also looked at some Hal Higdon plans, because I always secretly dream of being in good enough shape to do the Intermediate-II plan.  Or even above that.  The main problem with those plans at this point is that they are 18-week plans, and like I said, I’m at week 16.  And I’m more novice level than intermediate right now 😉  So honestly, what I might do is tweak the novice II program a little, and start with an 8- or 9-mile long run this weekend, and see if I can just go from there into the rest of the program.  If I can’t, I still have the novice I program to fall back on.  Or even the Rookie plan that has served me so well in the past.  I know everyone reading this is just as intrigued and obsessed by training plans as I am, so I’ll keep you all posted.

In other news, here’s an update about the Danskin SheRox Triathlon (in Philadelphia, anyway): chips can be mailed back at no charge, and you can get a medal in the mail.  Yay!  No mention of discounted registration fees for next year, or anything like that.  Sad face to that.  I know I could just email and ask directly, but lately I feel like I’m having to be the squeaky wheel in nearly every aspect of my life and I’m kind of tired of it.  So this is something I might just let go.

Also, New York smells *really* bad today (and it’s a variety of different stinky smells, not just one in particular), which is weird because it’s not even that hot today.



  1. Good luck with your training plan, whatever it turns out to be! Also, I am glad to hear that you will get your medal for the SheRox Triathlon. I read a lot of the comments afterwards and many of them echoed your sentiments exactly. I liked what someone said about getting a t-shirt that said “I survived the 2009 Philly Danskin Triathlon!” Sounds like a winner if I ever heard one!

  2. I hear you on the training plan debate. I’ve always had a hard time picking one and then just fall on whatever one I can handle at the start. If I take on another marathon, I hope to move out of Higdon’s Novice 1 to something different!!

  3. i ALWAYS tweak my training plan. i don’t see anything wrong with altering the higdon one! 🙂 i use it as a base and adjust to what i think i can do/what i want to do.

    if you want the summer as your ‘off-season’ you could train for a winter marathon next time around. that way you can build a base in the late summer/early fall and then begin actual marathon training for a dec/jan/feb marathon? plus then you’d have an excuse to take a vacation down south in those cold winter months! 🙂

  4. For San Fran I used a mix between a plan that I created with the runners world tool and the FIRST program. I used the distances from the RW plan, but did the exercises mentioned on the FIRST program. It worked pretty well for me. I did this because I was training for a half, and after that I started training for the full, which was 8 weeks or so after the half…

    Now I am planning on training using the FIRST program for a marathon in december. I like that plan, it calls for 3 runs/week, the training depends on a recent 5k time for you (so it adapts to runners of every level) and also has you doing a lot of cross training, which is perfect if you like to bike or swim or do weights or all of them!

    keep us posted as to what you decide

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