5 Training Questions

in All Posts

I’m currently training for my 41th – 44th races.  What can I say- I love to race.  My credit card hates me. 


My next races include a 10K, two sprint triathlons, and a half marathon.  I’m really enjoying the renewed focus on my training.  Having a training plan reenergizes me.  It’s a ‘deadline’ that encourages me to stick to my healthy habits.


However, a training plan is not a mandate – it’s just a general guideline to get your booty across the finish line. And training, of course, doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  You train while living the rest of your life, which means things don’t always go according to plan.  


Here are my answers to five common training questions:


What should you do if you miss a training day?


Training plans build in room for error.  If you miss a few days, your training will not collapse.  However, you should try to stick to your training plan because each week builds on the other.  If you miss too many longer runs and suddenly get back on track, you’ll find yourself increasing distance too quickly.


All training plans include rest days.  When I miss a run, I consider it a ‘unscheduled rest day,’ and try to make it up the run later in the week, on what would’ve been a rest day.  However, you don’t want to screw with the rhythm of your plan, as rest days are often timed to maximize recovery (like, after the weekly long run or speedwork).  Study the timing of your rest days and make up the mileage if possible – but if it interferes with rest too much, just skip the day.


What if you miss a long run?  I always try to make up my long runs, as these are both physically and emotionally important.  If I miss a long run and can’t do it on a rest day, I will often swap out a shorter run and do the long run.   Again, just study your plan to ensure you aren’t creating a situation in which you, for example, run five days in a row.


And lastly, if you miss a ton of days and really start to fall behind, consider: 1) switching to a walk/run game plan for the race or 2) dropping down to a shorter distance.  Most marathons also often a half marathon option, and you can typically switch for free.


Should you sign up for mid-training plan races?


My big race is the half marathon, but I’ve got three smaller races on my plan.  I personally like doing mid-training races, as I find racing to be really fun and exciting.  Mid-training races injects energy into me, just as I start to feel like training is a chore.  If you’re considering a mid-training plan race, make sure you’ll be capable of that distance come race day.  For example, if you’re training for a marathon and there’s a half in two weeks, but you’re only at 8 miles, it would be unwise to sign up.


I rarely go ‘balls to the wall’ during mid-training races.  Increasing speed and distance at the same time is tricky and can set you up for injury.  So do the race at your normal long run pace or walk/run it.  Just have fun!


When should you sign up for the race?


A tricky question, indeed! If you sign up early, you’ll get an early bird discount.  However, injuries do happen during training – even if you’re doing ‘everything right.’  I have signed up for many races early, gotten injured, and been out $75.  Some races will refund a portion of your money or let you defer your entry, but most just say, “Tough cookies!”  You also risk the race selling out (although most will update the website as sell-out gets closer). 


For challenging races, I tend to sign up early and risk losing the money because it really helps me stay committed to training.  It’s really a personal preference. 


What if you can’t keep up?


I’ve been there – the weeks progress and training gets harder and harder.  You just can’t keep up.  The long runs feel impossible and progress too quickly.  What should you do?!

There’s three things to consider:


  • There are many causes of sluggish runs – weather, inadequate fueling, hydration problems.  Study your habits to see if it’s really about something else.
  • Don’t tackle two goals at once.  Burnout is inevitable if you try to increase distance and speed at the same time.  Both are really hard!  Just pick one goal to work at a time, although I do think it’s helpful to do a comfortable speedwork day when you’re training for long distances, too.
  • Consider the walk/run method.  There is no shame in walking.  If you’re struggling to keep up, try switching to walk/run intervals during your long runs.
  • Take a few extra rest days. If you’re feeling burnout, not undertrained, take a few days off of your plan.  You’ll do more good than harm. 


Can you train entirely on the treadmill?


You can, but you don’t want to – treadmills are a lot softer than the road and, come race day, your body will be shocked by the impact distance.  Part of training is getting your body used to the rigors of racing, including not only distance and speed, but surface, too.   By only training on the treadmill, you’re setting yourself up for race day injuries.  Plus, a treadmill doesn’t exactly recreate real-world conditions:  it’s flat (unless you set it to constant adjust incline to simulate running hills) and it pushes you forward slightly.  Oh, if only the ground would do that!


Get outside once or twice a week at a minimum.  If you’re 100% treadmill and want to switch to outdoor running, do it slowly – start with one shorter run a week, then slowly increase distance and duration. 


So – weigh in!  When do you sign up for races?  Do you train on a treadmill?  And what do you do when you miss a training day?


Happy racing!



  • The Teenage Taste September 12, 2011, 5:41 pm

    Great post, Caitlin! Especially since I’m hoping to sign up for a half soon! 🙂

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good September 12, 2011, 5:49 pm

    I sign up early if to hold myself accountable to training. I’ve never had to bail on a race that I’ve paid for – knock on wood.

    I usually plan my training schedule with a week or two extra, because something always seems to happen that sets me back a bit. This allows me to catch up without increasing mileage too quickly. I look at my training in terms of weeks. If I’m supposed to run three times that week, one or two off days will still allow me to fit in my three runs. I wouldn’t ever plan to run the next day after a long run, though. If that was the only way I could fit it in, I would skip it. I don’t train on a treadmill. Maybe I would if I had one or had a gym membership, but I don’t.

    Good luck with your upcoming races Caitlin! I just did my second half last Saturday and I have race fever pretty bad. I don’t know when the next will be, but I’m excited. 🙂

  • Hillary September 12, 2011, 5:53 pm

    One of the reasons I haven’t signed up for the Disney Princess Half (besides $$$!) is that I would have to train for much of it indoors, on the treadmill (I live in MD, and would have to do the majority of my long training runs from Nov-Jan, not exactly outdoor running condition weather!)

    • Beth @ 990 Square September 12, 2011, 7:32 pm

      You can totally train for a winter race in Maryland! I’m in Baltimore and I ran outside all winter last year–it just took the right gear and some adjustment.

      Disney races are super fun–I’m doing the Half in January and the relay!

      • Hillary September 12, 2011, 8:02 pm

        Oh, Beth. You just made it so much harder to say no! Haha!

  • Mia September 12, 2011, 5:53 pm

    my rule of thumb is 70% of miles have to be outdoors and 30% on the treadmill. I wish I could do all my runs outdoors, but I have found out the hard way that more than 30 miles per week on conrete wreak havoc on my knees. Alternating between the treadmill and outdoors I can stay injury free while running 40+ miles.

    As for signing up for races…the onles time I don’t sign up early is when I’m being a big chicken since racing scares me. I have definitely missed out on some races because of my race anxiety 🙁

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:11 pm

      Wah! Race anxiety is the worst. Do you have a buddy to run with?

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) September 12, 2011, 5:54 pm

    Races are another reason that Fall is great! I almost always sign up for races early and risk not doing them (because so far this hasn’t happened, and I’ve been racing since 2006).

    If I miss a run, I usually swap it for an easier day, but as you say, the long runs are most important. I do the same thing as you if I need to miss one.

    Also, I only run outside once a week for the most part — the long run. I feel this is enough, because I often do more during the long run than the rest of the week.

  • Bee Goes Bananas September 12, 2011, 5:56 pm

    Thanks for the tips!!

  • Ally September 12, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I’m training for my first half marathon so I’m new to all this as well but I would much rather run outside than on the treadmill. I feel like I can go a lot faster and longer outside, not to mention it isn’t as boring! If I run on a treadmill I very rarely run over 4 miles (I feel like I get injured easier on a treadmill).

    I like signing up early just to save money. I’m actually signing up for my half marathon tomorrow because you can use the code Lucky 13 and save on the entry fee for the rock and roll series (at least for the Arizona one). And it gives me more motivation to keep up my training schedule.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) September 12, 2011, 5:59 pm

    This post is great!

    I have missed many races this year due to injury. In the spring, I missed a 15K,5K, and Half-Marathon (Gasparilla) and the IronGirl Half-Marathon (but I dropped to the 5K) due to a shin injury.

    I am now going to be missing the Chicago Marathon due to an ankle injury. I also face a HUGE risk of missing the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon Relay in October (which would break my heart since my mom has been training so hard for her leg of the race and I would hate to let her down) and I may miss the RnR Savannah Half-Marathon in November.

    Also, I am considering dropping down from the Disney Marathon to the Half-Marathon in January.

    I know that there is no way of predicting injury, but since this is my second major injury of the year, I am starting to just pay more to register day of (or as late as I can) for races. Yes it costs more, but seeing as I have lost SO much money this year due to having to drop races/ transfer to a shorter distance, for me, it is worth it.

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:10 pm

      The Disney half is so much fun!

  • Dari Marie September 12, 2011, 6:04 pm

    I do train on a treadmill, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I live in Florida. I’m sure you remember the brutal summers here that last six months… SO not motivating to train in! But my race is in late October, which is the time PERFECT weather in Florida, so I have plenty of time to get used to the road before I run it!

  • Moni'sMeals September 12, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Good questions and good answers! (sorry to hear about your friend and the bike wreck.)

  • Lissa September 12, 2011, 6:17 pm

    I sign up for a race when it’s as cheap as possible! I hate that it gets more expensive as it goes. My husband has signed up for a race at the last minute a couple times and it’s just SO expensive! I am someone who needs a race in order to be motivated to train (I ran track/cross country through HS & College but have taken a few years off to rejuvenate). Running times has some good training plans and I’m currently trying to get back in the swing of running with this one – http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=6027. I often flip flop days because of my teacher schedule and sometimes I end up running on the treadmill. I think it’s good for me sometimes so I know exactly how fast I’m going, but you have to get out on the road/trail before you run a race!

  • Kristen (inspiredbydooce) September 12, 2011, 6:20 pm

    I usually try to sign up early to take advantage of the lower price and the motivation to train. Even when I don’t sign up early though, I declare my intention to run- that way I’m held accountable for it.

    I very rarely run on the treadmill. If i do, it is usually because I’m travelling and either don’t feel comfortable running in the place I’m starying or my schedule is weird so I need to run at an odd time of day.

    As for what I do when I miss a training day, it depends on the reason for it and what kind of training run it is. If I miss it because I’m super busy and exhausted and it is a recovery run, I’ll usually just let it be. I miss runs because of sickness- if I can make up a long run I will but if I can’t- well, my body needs the rest and recovery so again, I let it be. I’ll move around the more important runs to fit my schedule, but when life happens, sometimes you just have to skip a run or two.

    That just made me look at my current training schedule (race is on the 25th- yaaay) and I think I only missed 2 runs. That is a little insane…I don’t think I’ve ever only missed 2 runs in a training cycle.

  • Nicole (Mrs. Muffins) September 12, 2011, 6:26 pm

    Missing training days is one of the toughest things for me. I love using a plan but I don’t like changing my routine if I have to miss a day. Since I don’t have a scheduled race right now, I have a training plan made up but I’m not stressing too much if I have runs Mon., Wed. Fri. one week and Tues., Fri., Sun. the next. Typically, I like running on just certain days! Anyways, I hate treadmills 🙁 For some reason I really underestimate my pace and go too slow on treadmills. Maybe I’m afraid of falling off? Haha.

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:10 pm

      I have fallen off a treadmill. It wasn’t pretty.

      • Whitney September 13, 2011, 8:47 am

        Ditto… and I was mortified.. so embarassing!! 🙁

  • Kara September 12, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Love this post! I don’t miss any runs, mostly out of fear that any lapse in training will result in my death in the woods somewhere around mile 39 of my race. 🙂

    Treadmills are a good tool, but it should never replace running outside! You shouldn’t do long runs on the ‘mill, but short runs are ok. If you only do your tempo runs on the ‘mill, you’ll never learn how to pace yourself on race day.

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg September 12, 2011, 6:31 pm

    I usually only run in 2-3 races per year, so I generally sign up when the registration starts!

    I do like the treadmill some days, but I try to run at least 1/2 of my runs each week outside — unless it is the winter time, then I stick to indoors.

    If I skip a day, I make up for it on a rest day or I skip it altogether. I planned for each of my long runs ahead of time, that way if I was traveling I could make the necessary adjustments.

  • Lauren September 12, 2011, 6:35 pm

    Hey Caitlin! Totally off topic, but I was wondering if you would be interested in writing some dating/relationship posts? I would be really interested in hearing your opinion on this topic, seeing as you always deliver such epic, level-headed advice! I’m 21 and recently just starting putting myself out there dating-wise (i know, late bloomer) and I’m finding it really confusing/stressful and would like some tips! Just something to think about if you ever have writers block and can’t think of a topic haha

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:09 pm

      Oh man!!! I don’t know if i’m the best advice giver. I wasn’t totally great at dating, either. What are you stressing over? My best advice would be to join coed clubs and whatnot to try to meet new people… don’t do the bar scene.

      • Lauren September 13, 2011, 9:53 am

        Haha, no worries! Thanks Caitlin!

  • Jessica @ Fit Chick Wannabe September 12, 2011, 6:35 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I recently made a goal for myself to run 30 races before I turn 30, so I will be constantly training and running, and this is very helpful!

  • Shannon @ A Pinch of Ginger September 12, 2011, 6:52 pm

    You and I must be on the same wave-length today 🙂 I just posted about training as well. I agree that your schedule should be a ‘flexible framework’. When I miss a long run (and if I cant squeeze it in the next day) I usually revert back to that mileage. To me its all about listening to my body and what it can handle. 🙂

    Happy Training!

  • Wendy September 12, 2011, 6:54 pm

    I usually sign up for races as late as possible but still early enought to get the early bird discount. However, due to a foot injury a few weeks ago, I JUST missed my first bought-and-paid-for race this past weekend. I’m also signed up for a full marathon the end of October, but will be dropping to the half, if I get to run at all. If nothing else, I will take your advice and run/walk it!

    As for your other questions – I no longer have a gym membership and my home treadmill is not set up yet after moving last year, so no treadmill running for me. I usually don’t sweat it if I miss a run, because I do so much cross training. With my current injury, I’ve been doing what I can to maintain my cardio fitness. 12K on the rower anyone??

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:08 pm

      Wah I am sorry about your injury 🙁 Hope you feel better soon!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga September 12, 2011, 7:02 pm

    I NEVER run on a treadmill. I’d rather run outside in -40F windchills or 112F heat index than run on the TM. I hate that thing!

    Congrats and good luck in advance on your new races you’ve signed up for!

  • Rebecca September 12, 2011, 7:14 pm

    My dad signs up pretty early. He’d been signed up for a bunch this summer and then the whole cancer/clot thing in May messed up those plans. I think he’d even been signed up for a couple in January, or was thinking about it. A lot of the races he does have sign ups starting like 6 months before, if not more. The bigger ones, anyway. I feel like he schedules his runs a year out or something. He was signed up for one the weekend after they moved me in at college (Aug) in, like, May or earlier.
    He doesn’t run on treadmills much either–he’d rather be outside with better scenery! 🙂

  • Lauren September 12, 2011, 7:15 pm

    Great post! I sometimes wait too long to sign up for a race, and in the future, I really need to commit, sign up, and train.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss September 12, 2011, 7:16 pm

    Loved this! I’m currently training for a full and so far, so good when it comes to keeping up with the schedule, but who knows if I’ll have to miss a few days here and there.

    I’ve done every run outside so far and hope to keep it that way. Treadmills are WAY easier to run on than the road..so when I get in a training run, I want it to be a training run. Not something that won’t challenge my body like it’s supposed to.

  • Susan September 12, 2011, 7:23 pm

    I sign up early and often! =) I’m truly excited by racing, so I want to do EVERYTHING. I am very lucky that I work at a job that allows me to train the hours and afford the race fees.

    I am definitely an outside training person. I cannot believe sometimes when I read about people doing 2+ hours on the treadmill. I would die! I think I need to get back on the treadmill in a way though. I’m working on getting past some treadmill phobia. I tried to run a treadmill once when I was injured, and because I hit a wrong button, almost went flying! Totally terrified me, and that being out of control sense is still sort of there. But I need to get over it to stay on track for my goals over the winter.

    My training plan is on a google spreadsheet. I color in the days as I do them with three colors: completed (gray), mostly completed (blue), missed (red). Very few all gray weeks, I will admit. My recent half plan had an almost all red week in week 3 – will have to back to the details to remember why! But overall when I miss something critical I move it to another day, otherwise I just shrug and move on. I’ve moved a couple long runs to weekdays because of travel, and one because of Irene!

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:07 pm

      I love your detailed training spreadsheet 🙂

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 12, 2011, 7:42 pm

    these are great tips! I’m signed up for a 10K in two weeks and then a 10 mile on Nov 12th! Very excited about it but I’ve seen a lot of different training plans – some with 3 days of running and some with 5 days! It’s all rather confusing…

  • Megan @ Long Distance Relationship September 12, 2011, 7:46 pm

    Weird as this may sound, I usually sign up for my next big race when the current one I’m training for is right around the corner. I’ve found that if I don’t have anything lined up, I tend to feel kind of bummed a few days after the race is over. I of course build in time to rest so I’m not always training, but I do like to have a race planned to keep me excited. I use the treadmill occasionally, but usually only if weather makes me or for some reason the gym is more convenient that day with my schedule, I try to keep most of my runs outside. I take a similar approach to you when I miss a day, try to make up for it especially if its a key run (speed work or long run) however if its a shorter run sometimes I just take a rest day.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB September 12, 2011, 7:51 pm

    I’m a treadmill girl (eagerly awaiting mine new Norditrack so I can quit the gym), but mainly I do it for convenience, safety and for my allergies/asthma.

  • Joey September 12, 2011, 8:11 pm

    LOVE this post. Thanks for all the tips! I signed up for the half marathon the day before the rate increase ~15 weeks prior to the race. I’m going to do some mid-training races too and am waiting until the day prior to rate increases for those as well, so that I can make sure I’ll be ready as well as just to keep as much $$ in my bank acct as possible lol!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife September 12, 2011, 8:43 pm

    I sign up semi-early. But not TOO early, just in case. I am all about training for a race on a treadmill AND outside. I trained for 2 marathons on treadmills (with longer runs outside) and did fantastic (sub 4 hours). I guess to each her own 😉

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:05 pm

      Gurl, awesome! I am so impressed by your marathon time and the fact that you could do MARATHON long runs on the treadmill. That is determination!!!

  • M September 12, 2011, 8:46 pm

    I feel like you write the same post every (other) week.

  • Emily September 12, 2011, 8:55 pm

    Thanks for the great post, Caitlin! Your advice has the other day has really changed my training plan for the better; I am definitely hurting a whole lot less. I had no problem with my long(est) run the other day and have given myself enough rest in between 🙂

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:04 pm

      Yay! I am so glad to hear training is going well. Wahoo. Rest rules.

  • 'Dee @ 'Dee's Garret September 12, 2011, 9:04 pm

    I’m an early bird race-signer-upper 🙂 It’s all part of the motivation for me to know I’ve paid my entry fee. No excuses now!

    And because my work and travel can prevent me from running outside as much as I want (too dark, unfamiliar neighborhood, etc.) I do a good % of my weekday training on a treadmill. My long runs are nearly always OUTSIDE — and by the time the weekend rolls around, I want absolutely nothing to do with that treadmill. When I do use a treadmill, I try to mimic the road as much as possible using the hills program, etc. Unless I’m doing speedwork, then I keep it flat.

  • Allispin September 12, 2011, 9:07 pm

    When I was training for my first race (which was a 10k), I trained almost entirely on the treadmill. It was late winter/early spring in New England, so running outside was only an option towards the very end (think, early March) of my training period. The hills on race day were a shock, but so far that course has been my hilliest, but also my best 10k time. Although I didn’t train for the hills, my mileage and speed work pulled me through, and I pulled off a great pace and time (for me).

    I would say if treadmill training is your only option, don’t let that stop you from training! Just utilize the incline function and/or step up your speed…

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:08 pm

      Great point!!!

    • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 13, 2011, 8:41 am

      I totally agree.
      Often the season that you are training in is not the season that you are going to be racing in. It can be especially difficult to get outside if you live someplace that has harsh winters and you are training for a spring race. Running on snowy roads is dangerous!

      In this case, I try to at least get a few long runs in on the nicer days before the race so I can get a feel for running outdoors.

  • Becky @ Fit Chick on the Fly September 12, 2011, 9:15 pm

    Wow this post was extremely helpful as I am preparing for my first half marathon at the end of the month. I’m worried because my race is at night and I don’t want to put the wrong things in my body. Any do’s and don’ts on what I should eat on race day since my race is at 10 pm?

    • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:19 pm

      Oh fun! Night races are awesome. If I were doing one, I would sleep in and eat normally, probably having dinner at 8 PM or so.

    • sarah September 12, 2011, 9:24 pm

      Noo! No! disaster! From personal experience, I can honestly tell you that a full meal ~2 hours before your race will sit in your gut like your annoying drunk uncle who refuses to leave your Thanksgiving. I’ve raced at 10 p.m. before. What I do is eat breakfast, a late lunch (2 p.m.), and then a snack (300-400 cals maybe?) around 6 p.m. Then, no food, or else my intestines rebel. You will have plenty of energy from the day of eating so you won’t be hungry, but I would honestly err on the side of being slightly empty, as it were, than full.

      • Caitlin September 12, 2011, 9:45 pm

        Haha Maybe you should listen to Sarah… That sounds wise.

        • Becky @ Fit Chick on the Fly September 13, 2011, 8:44 am

          LOL I guess everyones body is different. I’ve been sort of testing the water (aka food) during my training. Do you think I should eat a semi heavy lunch, like a pasta?

          Thanks so much for all your help, you have no idea how nervous I am!!

  • Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs September 12, 2011, 9:57 pm

    Basically this post was perfect timing!! I’m training for my first half now. I felt SO sluggish today, but I think that it was from not eating that much… now I know for the future. I am apprehensive about relying on the treadmill, but I don’t know how that’s going to fly during the winter…

  • Delia September 12, 2011, 10:14 pm

    I hate treadmills! I much prefer ellipticals because my feet determine my speed and intensity, and they’re not as loud too. I try to register for races early because the prices go up as the date gets closer, but at the same time, sometimes I’m more last minute because of uncertainty in my schedule.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 12, 2011, 10:26 pm

    Thanks for these tips Caitlin! My friend wants me to run a half-marathon with her in 5 weeks and even though the farthest I’ve ever run is 6 miles, I was considering it. Reading this post has made me realize it’s probably not a good idea – I probably can’t work up that mileage without injury. But now I’m looking for shorter races for the fall, so these tips will definitely still come in handy!

  • Jen September 12, 2011, 11:04 pm

    As silly as it seems, I’ve never even thought about just dropping down to a lower race if I’ve under-trained or been injured. I was set to run the Chicago marathon in October, but after a knee injury there is noo way I can run it. Maybe I’ll look into doing a walk/run half.

  • Lorin September 12, 2011, 11:26 pm

    Awesome post!! I’ve been trying to run more and I’m in good overall shape. I like cross training because I get bored easily. I’ll do 3 things in one gym session, 15 minutes each, sometimes less (bike, stairclimber, elliptical, treadmill). However, whenever I try to run outside after about 20 minutes the outside of my knee hurts. I don’t run too much or overdo it so I don’t know why it starts to hurt my knee. I also don’t run that long maybe 3-4 miles. It’s frustrating because I want to start going longer, but I don’t want to screw up my knee and not be able to do any exercise at all. So, for now I think I”ll just be running shorter distances like 3 miles or so and walk if I start feeling pain and then continue with biking ect. I want to try running 6 or so miles or even 8 eventually, but my knee is hindering that plan.

  • Kristina September 12, 2011, 11:34 pm

    I just gave up my gym membership this past spring, so no more treadmill running for me! We’ll see how manage through the winter months – not that it’s super cold in southern CA, but we can get torrentially crazy rain. I really enjoyed running this summer without the treadmill, and I clocked a decently fast 5k for me – and at altitude! I will say that I try to run a lot on trails so that I’m not on concrete too much.
    While I’m not running inside, I have been biking a LOT inside, taking classes. I’m now a totally shameless spin class junkie, but it’s been way fun.
    Regarding race sign-ups… I signed up for tons of races last spring and dropped out of all except an Olympic tri because of foot and knee issues. I think that I lost over $200. That was painful!
    And I almost signed up for a half marathon after my end-of-the-summer tri, but something held me back. Right now, I’m actually psyched that I’m not training for anything in particular. I feel that it’s giving me a much needed break. While I have 2 races for October and November, they aren’t crazy-intense (well, one IS kind of a crazy trail race, but it’ll be fun and I don’t care about my time). It’s a nice change after a really focused summer training schedule (for me).

  • Khushboo September 13, 2011, 12:21 am

    Good advice! Training plans aren’t the be all, end all! I think I am in the minority when I say that running outdoor seems easier to me than treadmills. However if I were training for a race, I would ideally do a majority of my runs outdoor to mimic race conditions!

  • Carol September 13, 2011, 1:03 am

    I went race crazy this year, signing up for a total of 21 (so far!)…let’s see. 3 marathons, 8 halfs and the rest 10k’s. I think…I’m losing track! And people say running is a cheap sport! Basically my races have been my training this year, as I work to get leaner and meaner, filling in my spare time with boot camp workouts. Wait, what spare time?! I do enjoy race day though…don’t really get nervous anymore, but then again, I win just by finishing each and every one of them.

  • Samantha September 13, 2011, 2:34 am

    My philosophy on missing a long run is a bit different. A month out from my first marathon I came down with a URI. I was very worried about missing a scheduled 20 mile run (I’d already done one 22 mile run). My coach assured me ’tis better to enter race day rested if a bit undertrained (that 20 miler was more a mental factor than a physical one) than run down. It didn’t affect me at all. Along the same vein I was very sick the week of my first half and ended up only running once the entire week and still came across the finish at my goal time of 2 hours.

    DEFINITELY get outside for training runs. There’s virtually no weather you can’t run in, save for things like lightning. In MI MOST of my runs were either in pouring rain or snow, and I loved it! On Guam I mostly ran indoors (100* year round and asthma don’t mix) but when I had a race coming up, I’d just dial down my pace, take walk breaks, and suffer outdoors.

    I’m not much of a racer anymore although I do think it keeps you motivated. We’ve lived on the other side of the world for 3 years with 2-3 more to go and for me, unless I’m racing with friends, it’s just not worth it to me to spend the time and money.

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run September 13, 2011, 8:37 am

    I think it’s important to distinguish between racing and participating in a race! Racing implies race effort, while showing up and not going out at race pace is a different story. If you have races lined up before your goal race, they may serve an intermediate purpose of checking out how your fitness is coming along (is your 10k faster than before?), which would be nice to do with a little taper and recovery. The other purpose could be just to acclimate to a race setting (getting up early, eating the right breakfast, getting to the start, bag check, maneuvering the crowds, etc) while running the race at a different effort. It’s important to know the purpose of your run/race!

    I also strongly promote running outside…no race is run on a treadmill!

  • Whitney September 13, 2011, 8:40 am

    I sign up way in advance for a race because of the cheaper race entry fee for sure! It also does something for my training and commits me to getting out there at 5am for a long run when I’m not feeling it. I wouldn’t have the motivation otherwise. The only training I do on a treadmill is my speedwork and tempo runs. I despise the treadmill any other time but when I get to play with speed it goes by faster and is not as miserable. All of my other runs are outside on the road. I very rarely miss a training day but when I’m just not feeling it one day I usually skip a crosstraining day. I feel like all of the runs are too important.

    I’m so happy you are back into training! I love reading about it 🙂

  • Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews September 13, 2011, 9:28 am

    This is a great post! I love how you give so much information to your readers.

  • Hannah Hawley September 13, 2011, 10:16 am

    I tend to sign up as soon as I decide I want to do the race, sometimes that means that I sign up as soon as registration opens, other times it means I only give myself a few weeks to train. Other than my off-road triathlon, which I only had 4 weeks to train, I have only signed up for 5k races since the longest I have ever run without walking is 1.5 miles. If I miss a training day, I look at why, if it was because I was being active in another way, I don’t worry about it, if it was because I was tired, lazy, something else came up, I definitely fit it in later in the week.
    I hate the treadmill, but sometimes it is the best option (like when I want to get a run in while at work), I would say I only run on the treadmill 25-50% of the time.

  • Melissa September 13, 2011, 4:04 pm

    So often, I read your blog and whatever your topic is for the day is absolutely relevant to my life ON THAT DAY. So, for instance, today I read “However, a training plan is not a mandate – it’s just a general guideline to get your booty across the finish line. And training, of course, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You train while living the rest of your life, which means things don’t always go according to plan.” And that was exactly what I needed to read.
    I am training for my first half marathon right now, and yeah, life happens, and my “actual” training and my plan do NOT look the same, but that is just the way it is sometimes. 🙂

  • Sam September 14, 2011, 9:26 am

    Good tips! I am training for my first race ever, a 10k in october. I used to run strictly outdoors but had some hip problems so i switched to treadmill to avoid too many hills which seem to strain it. Now I am worried about my race which is outside and possible hilly!! i hope it doesn’t destroy me hip…ahh. I am trying to do at least 1 outdoor run a week, I’m glad I have your tips for that to reference!

  • Erin September 14, 2011, 9:40 pm

    Great post!! I just finished my first sprint triathlon on Sunday and I am going to sign up for my first 10K tomorrow! Now that I’ve gone through 3+ months of training for the triathlon I don’t want to stop so Tufts 10K here I come!

  • lani September 20, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I am sorry to ask the obvious but which half are you doing this October? Any chance it is the Nike Women’s Half in SF? 🙂 I tried to enter the race months ago and JUST got entry–so I am doing the race (alone) October 16. I have only been running 6 miles and under the past few months. Doh!
    I did the National Half last spring but it has been a while. Any words of wisdom? 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP September 20, 2011, 6:39 pm

      You are going to have so much fun! I have heard great things about that half. I am doing a small local race.

      My advice? Start off slow and speed up at the end! And, of course, have fun.

  • lani September 21, 2011, 4:22 pm

    Thanks for the great advice, Caitlin! I have heard good things, too. Sadly none of my friends will be going, but at least it is scenic! I’m woke up today a wee bit nervous, though, and would like your opinion. I’m looking at the Nike plus training plan online, and will look at yours–but since I only have 3 weeks & 4 days left(ack!)clearly I can’t do it all. The Nike training plan started 8 wks ago (Jul. 26) and during that time, I have been running about 2x/wk, about 5-6 miles each. I ran 7 today, which was hard, But I don’t want to add too much too fast. All I remember from before was the importance of running the longest run 2 weeks from the end. So that means 11 miles on Oct. 5–in 2 weeks. Does that seem reasonable to you, Ms. HTP?:) Sorry to “run on” here.

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