Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Constructing a Training Plan for YOUR Legs

One of the things Kristen and I have done this training cycle is to really examine what worked and what didn't in our last year or two of running. We have found that complicated speed workouts are confusing, and difficult to execute. I certainly found that I was unable to really gauge how fast I should be doing speed and tempo sessions, and was likely doing them too fast and nearly getting injured as a result.

Probably the biggest learning curve, however, was understanding exactly what format of weekly workouts worked best for us as individuals. This was the single greatest element of constructing a new training plan for me.

For example, I neeeeeed a rest day after long run day, but not before. I can run easy miles before speed work, but not after. Because I work all week, its easier for me to take rest days or cross-train during the week, and get some longer running in on the weekend. Generally speaking the weekly format that works best for me is: Monday rest, Tuesday: Easy/medium long, Wednesday: speed, Thursday, XT + strength, Friday: Tempo, Saturday XT or easy + plyo and strength, Sunday: Long.

That is what I naturally gravitated towards, and what my training plans always switched to in the past. Looking back over past training (and all the workouts I didnt complete or shifted around the week) has forced me to understand what works for my legs and my time. It really takes the guesswork out of it.  As a result, for the first time, I am actually following my training plan. I still ask myself how Im feeling each day, and whether Im physically ready for the workout that I have assigned myself.... but more often than not, the answer is yes, because my legs have found a groove that Im running with (pun completely intended). The resulting benefit, of course, is that I am completing my workouts, making much greater fitness gains and gaining a ton of confidence in myself!

Do you follow training plans blindly, or reassemble them to fit your legs/schedule? Do you eschew training plans entirely and just run by feel? How do you evaluate whether its working?

With that long-winded introduction, these were the first two weeks out of base training and integrating real workouts in the leadup to my December 1st race (we are running the Vegas Rock n Roll):

October 1 - 7th
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 6 miles easy, plus 6 x 8 second hill sprints
Wednesday: Speed: 6 miles with 2 miles easy, 5x800 at 6:27pace, 2 miles easy on treadmill
Thursday: Elliptical, easy for 45 minutes, + leg strength
Friday: Tempo, 2 miles easy, 2x1 miles at HM pace, 2 miles easy
Saturday: Insanity Plyometric circuit + easy 4 miles
Sunday: 15 miles easy, with 14th mile in 6:55

I ran some of my easy miles around the reservoir in Central Park. The 1 point something mile loop around the lake is dominated by runners. No strollers or bikes allowed, and even walkers are in the minority.

October 8th-14th
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8 miles easy, plus 8x8 second hill sprints
Wednesday: Speed, 7 miles with 6x800 at 6:27  on treadmill
Thursday: 45 mins easy ellipitical + core strength
Friday: This was a cold, windy night and I did not want to run. But I got out there and really surprised myself with the tempo portion. I ran 2 miles easy, then 4 miles tempo: 7:00, 6:50, 6:55, 6:56, 2 miles easy.
Saturday: Insanity Power and Resistance + 5 miles recovery
Sunday: 15 miles easy. For this run I went further than I have so far down the Hudson river trail toward lower Manhattan on the west side. It was a beautiful day for running and the water front was gorgeous!


  1. That weekly schedule looks very close to what I do throughout the year, as well. I agree that I don't need rest prior to a long run, but I actually like to get back out the next day or I end up pretty stiff. Actually, after RnR New Orleans in March I decided to go running again THAT NIGHT. I did 3 miles about 6 hours after finishing the marathon and, while it was painful at the time, I felt so good the next day! I guess I tend to stiffen up more than others???
    Your speed's looking nice - especially those fast miles at the end of long workouts. You'll eat RnR Vegas alive!

    1. Awww, thanks Gracie - that means a lot coming from a speed demon such as yourself!

      Yeah, I am really fascinated by how different we all are and how differently we respond to running stress. I, unlike you, cannot run after my long runs (partially because they are my least developed area), or else I seem to bring on injury really easily. But Kristen, on the other hand, who has been running longer distances for a longer time than me, seems to respond really well to recovery runs. Its always tempting to change up what you're doing because you see other runners doing something different; but Im starting to realize that if you find a format that works for you, you should just stick with it!