Getting in Gear

I’m planning to run a half marathon in about five weeks. I wanted to follow a full training program for this race, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t select (much less start) a specific training program far enough in advance of the race, and I doubt I would have strictly followed a program anyway while I was finishing grad school. I’ve been running consistently this summer, so I should be in decent shape with my training and it shouldn’t be a problem for me to join a program in progress. I’ve based my recent training on this training plan from Hansons Running Shop, though I haven’t followed it strictly and I joined it very late. I’ll continue using this program as a guide during the five weeks left before the half marathon.

I’ve struggled with determining a goal time and pace for the race, but because the training run paces in the program I’m following are based on my goal half marathon pace, I had to pick a goal time and pace. In the past, I haven’t really used training plans or set well-crafted goals for myself; I have usually just tried to set a PR for whatever distance I’m running, and in the process have run some not-so-smart races (starting out too fast, poor pacing, not being close to a negative split, etc.). This time I want to be better prepared and have some sort of an actual plan going into the race, and I decided to use my current half marathon personal record (PR) as my target time. I’d like to beat that time, of course, but the second half of the course is challenging and who knows what the weather will be like in Michigan in early October. I can adjust my goal and subsequent training paces along the way if necessary, and I’ll probably try to beat my PR, but I’m also trying to be realistic with the course and the potential for crummy weather.

Even though I didn’t start a full training program 16-18 weeks before the race, I think I can still be well prepared for the race and (I hope) run to the best of my ability on that day. This training plan stuff is new territory for me, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run. Or the medium run.

Do you follow specific training plans for races? If so, do you ever modify or deviate from those plans?

How do you choose a goal time or pace for a specific race, and how far in advance of the race do you choose that goal?

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4 Responses to Getting in Gear

  1. I’ve tried to follow specific training plans for races but I find that a regimented plan really sucks the fun out of training for an event. I try to read my body and do what I feel like for the day, with some stipulations…i.e. run one long day, one hard day, one easy day, crosstrain on days off, etc.

    Since I’m a new runner I haven’t really chosen a goal time or pace. I’m just looking to finish!

    • Matt says:

      I agree about a regimented plan making training less fun. I’m torn sometimes because I’d like to have enough structure in my training to feel like I’m making progress toward a goal and training appropriately, but I also like to have the flexibility to adjust my workouts depending on how I feel and not have to set a goal pace really far in advance of the race. I think your approach sounds like a very good one that’s working well for you. Without having at least a couple of previous race times to go by for a given distance, it would be difficult anyway to really set an accurate goal. Finishing is a great accomplishment, and you can always worry about goals or times after you’ve gotten more of a feel for racing!

  2. The blog looks great so far! I struggle with training plans and rarely follow them. I like to look at them for guidelines and then do whatever my body feels like it can handle that day. I’m sure you’ll do well in the race as you’ve done well in the recent races this summer and those were in the heat!

    • Matt says:

      Thank you! I know what you mean about struggling to follow training plans. They usually look good on paper to me, but it can be a totally different story when you’re trying to follow them day in and day out. I’m finding that I like having enough structure or guidance to know the types and frequencies of workouts I should be doing, but I also like having enough flexibility to adjust the pace and/or distance depending on how I feel on a given day or how my recent runs have gone. I really hope it’s cool and clear for the Brooksie Way…I’ve had enough of running in 80-degree (or even warmer) weather!

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