I scoured through free half marathon training plans for hours. I finally found a plan that checked all my boxes:
- Time from start until race day
- Start out low mileage
- Increase mileage responsibly
- Good mix of running with cross training & strength training
- Not complicated
In the past I would print off the plan, stick with it for almost a week then life would get in the way and my work schedule wouldn’t mesh with the plan. I would have to work on the day my long run was supposed to be done. In hindsight, it’s highly likely I didn’t put much thought into finding a plan that started out with low enough mileage. This often lead to me feeling overwhelmed from day one and not capable of increasing my mileage the next week. I also found the different types of runs within a plan to be a deterrent (read excuse, because that’s truly what it was). Without a fancy running watch I didn’t feel I was capable of doing a fartlek or tempo run.
What I didn’t consider all those times before is that just running the planned distances or times would have been ok. Training my body to move and exert more energy over a prolonged amount of time would have helped far more than just giving up and winging it come race day. I also never took the time to integrate the training plan with my daily schedule. Doing so would have helped me to see ahead of time when a long run would interfere with a work day and then I could have adjusted accordingly.
There’s absolutely nothing that says once you pick a training plan you have to stick to it with no room to wiggle. Taking on a training plan with the mindset that you must do exactly what that plan says when it says, is a recipe for failure. It’s ok to be flexible, change the plan to fit your schedule if need be.
This time I was taking a different approach to training than I have in the past. I made sure to start small, I basically was looking for a lazy couch potato to half type plan. It had to be doable for this out of shape momma with a horrible track record of actually training. Once I found the plan I wanted to use, I took the time to actually write each workout in my daily schedule book (which I majorly rely on for just about every aspect of my life). Of course with a rotating work schedule I had to adjust which days I am scheduled to do my long runs and my rest days. Basically I now have every workout penciled into my schedule from now until the day I am supposed to run my first ever full marathon.
Here’s the kicker… just because it’s on the schedule for me to run Monday, cross train Tuesday, run Wednesday, rest thursday, run Friday and Saturday and rest on Sunday… it doesn’t mean I have to do it exactly as planned. If the weather is horrible on Monday and the forecast is ideal for Tuesday, why not switch the cross training to Monday and log some miles on the stationary bike and save the run day for the nicer weather the next day. Also, if you feel run down, sick or hurting… please allow yourself a break. Take an extra rest day or modify to a distance or activity that will not aggravate whatever is ailing you.
Last week I was lucky enough to get sick, in addition to being run down from my daughter not allowing me to sleep. I tried with all my might to stick to my plan, I had taken so much pride in sticking with my training for as long as I had, that I didn’t want to screw it up. I took to the treadmill a day later than scheduled and realized I wasn’t 100% yet and the logical thing to do would have been to stop but my stubborn side kicked in and I finished. That short run took what little energy I had and left me drained for several days. I ultimately had to skip two planned runs but I now realize that is ok.
I got back at it Monday, a milestone for me considering in the past I would have given up at that first detour. I felt great and would never have known that I skipped two planned runs in the days leading up to then. Today was supposed to be a cross training day, I planned to go to the gym and do some time on the stationary bike. My best friend asked if I had planned to go to the gym, when I told her my plans she asked if I would be up for an outside run instead. That’s not what is written in my schedule book… but it’s ok to be flexible! There’s no reason I can’t switch my Tuesday and Wednesday workouts.
There were so many excuses I could have come up with to not run today… it’s not my plan, it’s too cold, she runs much faster than me, did I mention it’s too cold?! It was 21 degrees when we took to the trail, she accommodated my slower pace by running four very fast miles prior to meeting up with me to run the final two. I discovered I had proper clothing for running in these temps and the March sun helped it feel much warmer than it actually was. I also finally came to realize it is ok to be flexible and adjust to whatever life throws at you. Thankfully for today, life threw a very supportive friend my way that always pushes me to better myself!