Steps to Creating my Own Training Plan

Planning to plan, that’s where it begins. Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but for me, the only way to start a new running season or training cycle (I use the terms interchangeably) is to plan it. After working on building mileage and some speed this summer, I took a short break to re-set, and recharge. I’m now back into marathon training mode, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to create a 22-week training plan for myself. This is how I went about it.

How I go about creating a plan

I first take a look at my last training cycle and see how it could improve. I dig deep into mileage, splits and see what’s lacking.

I then highlight weeks when I’m away from home. It’s rare that I’ll take on a spur of the moment trip, so I have a good idea of when I’m out of town so I can pack in miles early in a week if I think it will be too hard to train while on the road. Ideally, I carve out time during a trip to complete my mileage.

I work both forwards and backward. Once I count out the weeks to the goal race I throw in some potential tune-up races or test races so I have a good measure of my fitness and can turn my racing brain on. I fill in my “hell week” where I know I’ll be peaking and then schedule my taper.

I make special note of my 20milers to make sure they stand out and I don’t miss them. I usually only run 2-3 20milers in any one training cycle. I currently like to keep low mileage. I averaged 25 miles a week when I ran a 3:25 marathon. For my last Boston (the one where I crashed and burned) I averaged 14. SO, that tells me that I certainly can’t eek by on super low mileage but I can succeed with an amount that would typically seem very low. For this current road to Boston, I’m looking at 30-35 miles for my average, topping out at 50 miles in week 19 of my 22-week plan.

From here I sketch out a plan that feels right. I create hard weeks and easy weeks. This time around, I am planning my own strength training versus leaving it to the whim of my CrossFit gym and cherry picking. My goal is to get to my strength gym three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays) and go to a class once a week (be it CrossFit or a bootcamp).

Finally, I give myself a grace period. When I first started thinking about Boston, I figured I could take a long-ish fall break and start training in January. Because of some non-serious races I scheduled awhile ago, it won’t work out that way, so I’ve decided these first 4-6 weeks of training have some leeway. Once I hit week 7 (which will be 16 weeks until Boston) I’ll need to be more closely buckled down into the plan. These first few weeks I’m playing with the plan, doing research on strength training and reconfiguring miles as I feel appropriate. I’ll  be tagging along with Wednesday tempos and track Mondays with SGLRG, and I’ve given a rough estimate to some of those miles but will need to tweak it as I see their plan.

Nothing can go worse than last year’s training cycle (see 14 mile average…) so now that I have that mistake behind me, and I’m feeling fresh from a light summer of moderate mileage I know I can tackle this plan. Stay tuned for weekly re-caps as I work my way through it!

*Important side note. While I am RRCA Certified and have my CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Trainer Certificates I’m using my own experience, weaknesses, and strengths to make this plan. I am essentially self-coaching. I will publish this to give you a look at how I do it, but in no way recommend that you follow this exact plan.*