How I Create Training Plans

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SNOW DAY!!!! I woke up this morning, ran to the window, pulled back the curtain, and was greeted by a world of white.

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The weatherman predicted it was going to start snowing around 3 AM, and I kept getting up out bed all night to peek out and see if it had started yet.

 

This was worth the wait!

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We arenโ€™t in Florida anymore!

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Only a food blogger like me would put her oatmeal in the snow for maximum story-tellinโ€™ impact.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Pretty basic breakfast:

 

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 a banana
  • Toppings: coconut

 

Yeah.  This happened.

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How I Create Training Plans

 

I was g-chatting with Megan yesterday about her National Half Marathon training plan.  Weโ€™re both running the race (on March 26), and Iโ€™m so excited to see my Orlando running buddy!  But Meganโ€™s talk got me thinking:  the race is in 11 weeks!  And I donโ€™t have a plan!

 

So โ€“ I got to work on my training plan.  Hereโ€™s the final product.  On the same spreadsheet, you can find all the training plans from every race Iโ€™ve done since last December.  

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My plan includes:

 

  • A combination of long runs, โ€˜junkโ€™ runs, tempo runs, and speed runs.  If youโ€™re not sure what these items are, check out this awesome glossary.
  • A minimum of 17 and a maximum of 29 miles per week.
  • A long run of 15 miles.  Yes, two miles over the race distance! Iโ€™ve found this works best me for for non-marathon races.
  • Two days of yoga a week, plus one dedicated day of cycling.
  • Built-in flexibility so that I can miss days and swap days as I see appropriate.
  • No weekly mileage increases of more than 10 โ€“ 15%.  10% is the safe limit (i.e. 10 miles total in Week 1, 12 in Week 2)

 

When creating my own plan, I rely on two sources:

 

  • Established training plans, particularly Hal Hidgon (for newbies, I really recommend Couch to 5K)
  • My personal racing history

 

Since Iโ€™ve run 32 races (recaps), I pretty much know what works for me and what doesnโ€™t.  Iโ€™m strongest when only running 4 days a week (some people do 3, some do 5 or 6).  I also need yoga and cross-training or my knees get aggravated.  What works for me might not work for you, of course!

 

So โ€“ hereโ€™s how I create a training plan.

 

In Excel or Google documents, I create the shell of the plan by listing the days of the week across the top and the dates of each week down the side. 

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I also add a โ€œmileage ran this weekโ€ column.  You can automatically add up all the cells in the first row of data (row #3) using the formula =sum(B3-H3).  Then, you can add up all the weekly totals at the bottom by using the formula =sum(I3-I13).

 

The next step is building in travel dates or big deadlines.  I look at my regular calendar and fill in days on the training plan that I already know I wonโ€™t be able to work out.

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Lastly, using my previous racing knowledge and other training plans, I fill in each day. 

 

I always add in a few โ€œstepbackโ€ weeks when crafting my plan.  Stepback weeks are really important for your body AND mind.  Hereโ€™s an explanation of a stepback week + more considerations when writing your plan.

 

So โ€“ today was suppose to be my first long run (7 miles), but itโ€™s SNOWING so Iโ€™m going to yoga and bike instead.  Itโ€™s my training plan; I do what I want! ๐Ÿ™‚

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What training plan do you follow?  Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?

{ 115 comments }

 

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate January 10, 2011, 9:47 am

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been trying to work on a training plan for a half-marathon for a while now and never know what to do! I think I’ll take pointers from you and Hal Hidgon to finally set up one that works for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And congrats on the snow! I live about four hours north of Charlotte in VA and we’ve been absolutely pounded with snow this winter!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin January 10, 2011, 9:49 am

    I’m running that half marathon too and I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan, but a little loosely. I can’t do 5 days a week of running – my body doesn’t like it – so I’m doing 3-4, and keeping the long runs and speed training the same but adjusting the other runs down a bit. Thanks for this step-by-step!

  • LauraJayne January 10, 2011, 9:49 am

    I was so excited to be the first comment poster – but alas, I was too late! I am glad you are happy about the snow – we are SICK of it here! I always think a nice warm yoga exercise when it is cold outside is the perfect winter workout – plus it’ll clear your head for the day of work and writing and you have ahead of you! Happy Snow Day!

  • Kristy @ KristyRuns January 10, 2011, 9:49 am

    Love this!

    For marathons, I usually use a runnersworld.com race plan, but only go by their long runs and just fill in the rest of the week by what I’m feeling. I’m training for my first non-full marathon in a while, and I am looking a Hal’s training plan. The max long run is only 11, but like you, I’ll most likely get a 14-miler in before the big day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 9:51 am

      Yea – maxing out at 11 would make me so uncomfortable. I know it’s not necessary to run the race distance for a half before but it is for me if I want to go fast!

      • Kristy @ KristyRuns January 10, 2011, 9:54 am

        Exactly. And this time around, I’m training for speed!!!

  • Hope January 10, 2011, 9:50 am

    I love how you put your oatmeal in the snow for a pretty picture! We are supposed to get snow tomorrow night. I’m hoping for a huge storm!

  • Ann @ Day by Day January 10, 2011, 9:55 am

    Thanks- This was helpful! I’m hoping to run a half marathon this year and have just now started really thinking about it, but I need to get organized. I think I’m going to do a schedule like yours on Google docs. I kind of choose my next day’s work out as I’m in bed the previous night, but I think a planned out week of runs and other exercise would work so much better for me.

  • jen @ taste life January 10, 2011, 9:58 am

    I love creating training plans. Right now I’m not running, but strength training, so I’m following Rachel Cosgrove’s 16 week plan. It’s more fun to make a plan in Excel, though! And if you want snow – come out to Western NC, we have probably 8 inches by now!

  • Little Bookworm January 10, 2011, 10:01 am

    Love the snow photos and that you put your bowl of porridge in the snow for a photo! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Camille January 10, 2011, 10:02 am

    The snow looks gorgeous!
    I have recently taken the “no plan” approach to training. I find that when I am training for marathons, I tend to get injured by pushing myself to meet the demands of a high intensity training program. Instead, for my marathon in May, I am going to follow the “feels right” training plan and not overly push myself!

  • Sarah January 10, 2011, 10:06 am

    I put a bowl of soup out in the snow the other day and my husband stood inside and told me I was nuts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) January 10, 2011, 10:06 am

    I always photograph on top of snow in the winter. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy the white stuff!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 10, 2011, 10:09 am

    Snow Day!!! I think your oats are a perfect way to start the snow day! I am thinking coconut is in order here too to celebrate the beauty of winter! Enjoy your day Caitlin!

  • Stephanie January 10, 2011, 10:09 am

    That’s what my Pacifica looked like today!!

  • Freya January 10, 2011, 10:10 am

    For my threee half marathons, i did whatever I fancied ๐Ÿ™‚ but for my marathon, I followed Hal Higdon, which worked really well. If I did it again though, I’d add in more mileage (I did the novice) – I run better on more miles. 40miles max was too little for me ๐Ÿ™ not training for anthing right now, and I dod 35+ a week!

  • Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa January 10, 2011, 10:10 am

    Great timing on this post! My training for the Fargo Marathon is starting today and I still have to create my plan! This will be my third marathon and I generally follow HH. This time I plan to do a mix of HH, a plan my friend is using and my own personal experience.

    The biggest issue I am having is trying to fit in 2 days of lifting and at least one day of yoga. My previous plans I focused pretty much on just running, but realize I really need to add in some more cross training.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 10, 2011, 10:10 am

    Isn’t the snow amazing?! We got so much so fast last night that I was sledding in the park at 1 am!

    My team has a google doc to log our workout everyday, but I love the idea of make a “plan” doc. And I definitely need to do that if I’m going to run the Georgia half in a couple months! Thanks for the great idea!

  • Ashley January 10, 2011, 10:10 am

    This is really helpful! I want to start racing but don’t know where to begin with training plans.

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations January 10, 2011, 10:11 am

    We got tons of snow in LR this morning too. Even my work was closed. SNOW DAY!!! It’s so bad out there that the National Guard has been called out to help provide food and water to people who’ve been stranded on I-30 since 5pm last night. Awful!!!

  • Kara January 10, 2011, 10:15 am

    You can tell you’re a FL when….you get out of a warm bed to check for snow ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used to be organized like you with race plans, but now I just wing it (I blame the baby, but it could be laziness)

    • Kara January 10, 2011, 10:16 am

      I meant to say “FL girl” Again, I blame the baby who is sitting on my lap trying to help me type, but it could just be lack of attention to detail ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Allison @ Happy Tales January 10, 2011, 10:16 am

    Love that you are so excited by the snow! And thank you so much for posting how you create your training program sheet… I am going to put that to good use as I come up with mine!!! You’re such a goldmine for information, for everything it seems!

  • Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) January 10, 2011, 10:17 am

    That’s awesome! I am not up to incorporating LR’s yet, but I can’t wait!

  • Mel January 10, 2011, 10:18 am

    Could you explain your ‘junk’ workout? Do you do it at a slower pace than your long run, or lower heart rate? If so I would tend to call this sort of thing an ‘easy’ or ‘recovery’ workout rather than junk!

    • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 10:43 am

      Same. Junk = easy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tanya Patrice January 10, 2011, 10:20 am

    I used the Marathon Rookie training plan for my 1st half – and called it Half Marathon trianing plan for someone with commitment issues. I basically followed it, but switched the days around to when I felt like it. It was so important in helping me figure out how my body works – running every other day is key for me, and I like to get long runs done at the beginning of the week (I might need a do-over since I’m still anewbie runner).

  • Lee January 10, 2011, 10:21 am

    I’m currently using the Runner’s World Smart Coach plan, but I’ve had lots of success using Hal Higdon’s in the past. I find that I don’t need to do the maximum distance to be fine in the race. For my last half-marathon, I maxed out at 10.5 miles in my training and was fine come race day. Everyone’s different though.

    • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete January 10, 2011, 11:16 am

      I absolutely love Smart Coach. I recommend it to everyone if they really want to improve their times. It is great b/c (for peeps that don’t know) it is an individualized plan for you based on your last race. Hal Higdon’s is great, but a lot of people don’t know at what paces they should be running. Smart Coach tells you exactly how fast you should be running your speed intervals, tempos, long runs, etc. The best part: it is FREE!! My friend, who was actually winning in some races in Europe, uses this plan and first suggested to me a couple of years ago. My race times are improved significantly!

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday January 10, 2011, 10:21 am

    I have a training plan from Runner’s World for the marathon that I’m hoping to do this year.

    http://gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday/2010/12/07/thinking-about-26-2/

  • Melanie @ jonandmelie.com January 10, 2011, 10:24 am

    What are you doing for your “junk runs”? The glossery didn’t mention that one?

    • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 10:44 am

      Easy run that’s 1 – 1:30 min/mile slower than race day

  • Whitney January 10, 2011, 10:24 am

    I like doing other types of exercising more than running. I’m training for my first half, so I try to get one long run and one short run in a week. I really just fly by the seat of my pants…I run the long one when I feel like it. My exercising isn’t mapped out weekly. I will get up to 13 before, and most of the training plans only get you to 12. I’m not comfortable with that!

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow January 10, 2011, 10:25 am

    I’m a plan girl all the way! Love those charts and colors. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I also have a built in rule of flexibility! Life deems certain detours from a training plan and that is ok!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 10, 2011, 10:27 am

    I like training plans. Even if I dont follow them 100%, they keep me motivated ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Amy @ Teach, Write, Cook January 10, 2011, 10:28 am

    This is so helpful – thanks! Enjoy your snow day!

  • Theodora January 10, 2011, 10:30 am

    What’s a junk run???

    • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 10:44 am

      Slow run

  • Kelly January 10, 2011, 10:30 am

    That weather is heading my way tomorrow, can’t wait! I like using training plans when I’m training for a race.

  • Ashley January 10, 2011, 10:33 am

    I’m still new to running, so I’m sure I have area to improve with my “training”. When I first wanted to start running, I went to Barnes & Nobles & flipped through a few books (my fave = Running for Dummies) : ) From there, I just kind of make up my own thing. Right now I’m just working for mileage, not speed, so it’s worked for me. When I want to increase my speed I’m sure I’ll consult more sources for tips & ideas. : )

  • Sarah January 10, 2011, 10:35 am

    I get so excited about snow, too. Happy Snow Day to you!:-)

  • Dorry January 10, 2011, 10:39 am

    Great tips! I used Runner’s World Smart Coach tool to help start my training plan, then I made some adjustment to tailor it to my life and preferences. I love a training plan! I think it’s crucial.

  • Haleigh January 10, 2011, 10:42 am

    The snow is so peaceful… until it wrecks havoc on us all ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 10, 2011, 10:43 am

    I LOVE making training plans…even though they usually fall apart about half way through and I just end up going with the flow of what works on that day, ha!

  • Ali January 10, 2011, 10:48 am

    This post is very timely for me! I’m about to start training for my first half marathon and a month or so after my second marathon. This will help me make a plan that I can stick with for best results ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!!

  • Maddie January 10, 2011, 10:52 am

    Thanks for doing this post. My goal for 2011 is to run a half marathon. I have a lot of work to do until then, but I’m excited.
    Making a training plan sounds like hard work! I think I’m new enough to the running world that it scares me a little bit ๐Ÿ˜‰ but in a good way!

  • Natalia - a side of simple January 10, 2011, 10:57 am

    This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! Although I’m not signed up for any races, I was debating setting up a mock-training plan to add some spice to my workout routines. Thank you!

  • heidi January 10, 2011, 11:02 am

    hal higdon is the best ๐Ÿ™‚ I usually use him as a guide and then quasi-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants it the rest of the way, I like to run 3-4 days a week – 3 is usually most realistic with two days of yoga and one day of cross training.

    I can’t wait to hear about your training! I’m training for the national half as well! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sarah for Real January 10, 2011, 11:03 am

    Perfect timing! Thanks for this post. Right now I’m just winging it for my 12k training. The race isn’t until May though so I figured I’ve got plenty of time. I’m increasing my mileage by 10% each week to sort of build my base I guess. Once I’ve got a little more confidence in my fitness, then I think I’ll use your suggestions here to make a real plan. Thanks!

  • Lisa January 10, 2011, 11:03 am

    Perfect! I’m starting to train for a marathon, and I’ve just been winging it so far. This gives me some inspiration to get a training plan together (even if it’s just because I like spreadsheets)! And, I’m glad you posted the link to the “Couch to 5k” training plan – my boyfriend and I are going to a 5k together in a month and I think he’ll like and trust that plan. Thanks again, this came at a great time.

  • Chelsey (Cookteen) January 10, 2011, 11:04 am

    I need a schedule otherwise I find myself not working out…I want to run a half marathon and while searching for training plans I had a lot of questions. This makes is so easy!!! I am going to use it to try and craft my own!

  • Cyndi @ Weightless Life January 10, 2011, 11:10 am

    I generally use Hal Higdon’s training plans, and then I arrange the days as I see fit. I like having a schedule because it gets my butt out of bed in the morning.

  • skinnyrunner January 10, 2011, 11:13 am

    im a seat pants flyer. looking at an excel spreadsheet gives me a headache. yes, i have problems….

  • Marie-Journey to Body Zen January 10, 2011, 11:14 am

    I’m running in my first 5k in March. I don’t have a plan per say. Have just been running every other day and slowly increasing distance and speed. It seems to be working! I’ve gone from a 15 minute mile in September to now about 10:30. ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to do a 10 k this year as well and think that I’ll definitely have to do more sophisticated training for it. I really like your plan!

  • Lana January 10, 2011, 11:19 am

    I followed a training pan I found online for my last half, but I’m loving your method because it is totally adaptable to my schedule and goals.

    Thanks for the great ideas!!

  • Jennifer (keepitsimplefoods) January 10, 2011, 11:24 am

    Glad to hear you didn’t train outside today. I haven’t worked out outside in months- too cold! Hope your oats didn’t freeze!

  • Emma January 10, 2011, 11:43 am

    This is SO helpful Caitlin! In doing at least 1 glad this year, so will use your tips for my plan ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Marina January 10, 2011, 11:52 am

    I want snow ๐Ÿ™ Or spring. This weird weather is killing me.
    I should make a training plan of sorts, but I have no idea where to start ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine January 10, 2011, 11:58 am

    Um, I might have to steal your plan to use for the National half as well. I keep meaning to create a plan but I’m too OCD and start freaking out about “Oh my gosh, I have something on a Sunday one week and a busy Saturday the week after…what day should my long runs be on?!” It’s easier for me to be flexible if someone else creates them for me, haha!! Looks like a great plan!

  • Nicole January 10, 2011, 11:59 am

    I’ve never used one but I might try one this year. I think it scares me to have things set in stone like that. It’s overwhelming and makes me freak out a little when I see all that stuff out on paper. BUT I think it might help keep me on task.

  • Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat January 10, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I make training plans using Runner’s World SmartCoach and just going by how my body feels each week. I love the SmartCoach because it tells me exactly how fast I should be doing all of my runs!

  • aubrey @ italktofood January 10, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I’ve only done one half marathon, but I really loved using Hal Higdon’s training plan.

    http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/Mar00index.htm

    I used the advanced training plan. It was a great plan full of different kinds of runs plus weights twice a week.

    If my knee was in good shape I’d be following one of his plans and signing up for a race!
    Oh well….patience patience.

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition January 10, 2011, 12:13 pm

    that is great that you develop training plans like that. i am using hal higdon’s intermediate plan for the national half (see ya there!) because his novice plan worked so well for me the first time. i usually only run three times a week, but i am trying to stick to the plan for as long as possible before i tweak it.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 10, 2011, 12:21 pm

    This is GREAT Caitlin and could not come at a better time! I just got done with my first half- marathon (Disney this past Saturday!) and I have another half-marathon coming up at the end of February (Gasparilla!) and I’m starting to plan my training schedule. This training is going to be tricky, because not only am I training for speed (I want to beat my 1:56:20 time by a good 2 minutes), but I am ALSO doing the Beck’s Light Challenge so I will be running the 15K, 5K, and half all in one weekend!

    I know that you did it in the past, any suggestions on how to prep for 12.4 miles in one day and then turning around and doing 13.1 the following? Should I put two longer runs back to back? I know everyone is different, but just looking for some tips. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • CaitlinHTP January 10, 2011, 2:17 pm

      Check my race recaps out – I did Gasparilla too!!!! It was awesome and not too hard. If I wear you, I would get ready for the Half and then take four or five days off before the race. And ice when you get home!

    • Carina January 10, 2011, 2:39 pm

      I’d suggest definitely doing several long runs back-to-back. And you probably will want to practice longer runs that most half plans include so you’ll be used to the tired feeling. Look for some plans for something like the goofy challenge (which is a half and then a marathon the next day) and maybe adjust that accordingly. But I’d suggest going easy on the races where you’re not looking for a PR. It’s hard to pace when your legs feel strong and ready to race, but keep your eye on the prize (which sounds like it’s a half PR).

      • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 4:15 pm

        That’s a great idea! I might do that if it’s too hard on my body.

  • Sarah (Sarah Learns) January 10, 2011, 12:21 pm

    32 races? that’s so many! you must be a training plan pro by now! ๐Ÿ™‚ your snow day photos are so pretty, by the way. we haven’t had enough snow up here in wisconsin for my liking…

  • Paige @Running Around Normal January 10, 2011, 12:26 pm

    Snow!!! How exciting:) Well, for you. It’s been white for as long as I remember here it seems, hehe

  • Jenna @ Eating Green, Staying Lean January 10, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I just started getting back into running, as I used to do it in high school. To avoid injury, I’ve been working on the Couch to 5K program since it’s highly recommended by so many of my fav fellow bloggers ๐Ÿ™‚ This is an awesome system though, and as soon as I get my mileage up I’ll be sure to check this post as to how I should make a training plan.

    Also, Hal Higdon is awesome. I have a book by John Binham…have you used any of his training plans before?

    • CaitlinHTP January 10, 2011, 2:17 pm

      I haven’t! What do you think of his plans?

      • Jenna @ Eating Green, Staying Lean January 10, 2011, 2:44 pm

        Well, his story of running is definitely inspirational. I’m not sure how different his marathon training plan is to Higdon’s (I’ve only read about Higdon, but am planning on buying the book once I increase my mileage). I think that Bingham’s running book for beginners is similar to the Couch to 5K with a little variation in the workouts, maybe a bit of a slower start. I’m going to check it out when I get home and if there’s much of a difference, I’ll let you know ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence January 10, 2011, 12:49 pm

    I enjoyed seeing your plan- my friends are doing a half marathon and the longest they are running is 5 miles- they were trying to talk me into it but I think I’d have to run farther!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 10, 2011, 12:51 pm

    i ALWAYS put my breakfast in the snow after a big storm! We’re supposed to get a storm tonight, and I’m crossing my fingers… I love snow days!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 10, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I actually have a post coming up on this quite soon, but like you, I tend to blend my own personal racing experience with recommendations of things like Smart Coach and other online training plans. I love how you broke down your process, and you’re certainly a highly experienced advisor with all those races under your belt! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lisa January 10, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I didn’t print out or create a training plan when I was training for Hood to Coast. If I did another race I would however plan out a formal training plan this time!

  • Jennie @ Designed to be Fit January 10, 2011, 12:54 pm

    This is so helpful! I’ve been using the Hal Hidgons plan for my last 3 races (1 novice, 2 intermediate) and want to make my own for my next half in April. Thanks for the tips!

  • Melissa @ Running with Needles January 10, 2011, 12:59 pm

    This post was perfect for me – I’m in the middle of creating a plan for my next half right now. My plan looks pretty similar to yours, and I too am using a modified version of Hal Higdon’s.

  • Susan January 10, 2011, 1:00 pm

    I love snow ๐Ÿ™‚ I am living in it right now for the first time in my life. You know that feeling you had every hour as you checked out the window? That was me the first time it snowed. I kept checking outside to see it. I love the glisten of fresh snow. Enjoy the lovely white stuff!

  • Amanda January 10, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Thats a nice training plan you got there : ) My body likes 3 days a week of running but I’m ready to step it up to 4. Last time I did that my IT band flared up (for the first time) and I scaled back my running.

    I used Hal Higdons plan for an 8k, it worked like a charm! Though without a race to train for I tend to write my mileage down on the calendar just to make sure I don’t over do it.

  • Rachael January 10, 2011, 1:14 pm

    The snow looks familiar – Asheville got hit too! I’m pretty happy to have an excuse to read and catch up on blogs today!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 10, 2011, 1:18 pm

    I am totally fly by the seat of my pants! I can hardly follow a recipe for one meal, let alone a long complicated training plan. I just wing it..from marathons to fitness shows to yoga…I just wing it and go with whatever Im feeling at that time!

    Love your post and your tips!

  • Erica January 10, 2011, 1:30 pm

    When training for my first half last December, I made a training plan based on Hal Higdon’s Novice & Intermediate plans. I was flexible with my workouts during the week & really just concentrated on doing whatever I had to do to prepare for my long run on the weekend.
    My longest distance prior to the race was 11 miles and that kind of freaked me out at first to not run the actual race distance. But during the race, when I passed up mile marker 11, I thought “This is the farthest I’ve ever run!” And that was pretty big motivation for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have a question actually. About how long in advance are marathons\half-marathons planned and which website is best to find them? Is there anything in particular I should consider when picking a first marathon?

    • CaitlinHTP January 10, 2011, 2:23 pm

      Half plans are usually 12 – 18 weeks long and marys are 4 to 6 months long! For your first race, I think this most important thing is to run a long established race because everything usually goes very smoothly and there is a ton of support. You can find race reviews at racevine.com!

  • The Chick January 10, 2011, 1:56 pm

    I’m working on a ‘pre-training plan’ (to really start incorporating more running days) for the next month or two. Then am looking at Hals training plan for my first half marathon June 25th.

    Any tips for a first timer? Hal’s plan doesn’t have any taper or race legnth runs – would you suggest either of these for a first half?

    • CaitlinHTP January 10, 2011, 2:24 pm

      Check out runners world.com smart coach. It will spit out a plan according to your specifications!

  • Ariffa January 10, 2011, 1:57 pm

    gahahahah! I totally did the same thing with my oatmeal picture yesterday. It cools it down so I can eat it faster, duh!!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 10, 2011, 2:14 pm

    I have a general plan in mind for the training that I am going to start soon. Typically there are 3 runs per week although I am going to increase it to 4, including one tempo, hills or speed, fun run and long run. I am hoping to increase my speed most of all for the race I am planning to run in May.

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life January 10, 2011, 2:22 pm

    Caitlin this was SO helpful!! It also inspired me to create my own training plan for a fictional 15 mile race. I can’t sign up for an actual race right now, but I wanted a training plan to stick to. Now I’ve got one! TY!

    • CaitlinHTP January 10, 2011, 2:24 pm

      Fun!!!!

  • Carina January 10, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Wow, can’t imagine doing tempo and speed back-to-back. I wonder if you’d see better results on speed if you separated those a bit (like switched tempo and junk every week). But you know what works best for you! Maybe it’s something you could experiment with, I’d guess you’d have a lot more to give on speed days if you weren’t trying to recover from tempo. Just a suggestion…

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 10, 2011, 2:50 pm

    What a great, step-by-step plan. I agree that Hal Higdon’s are among the best–clear, and they work!

  • Jodi January 10, 2011, 2:56 pm

    Caitlin – this rocks! thank you for posting this. I was currently thinking about how to develop a proper training plan for my Half Marathon this year and with all the information out there, it can be a little overwhelming. this really helps give me a jumping off point!

  • Allison January 10, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Iโ€™m running my first half in May, and Iโ€™m trying to build up my mileage. I used Runnerโ€™s World โ€œSmart Coachโ€ for my plan. The only thing I have trouble with is I only have about 45 minutes to run in the morning before work (I have to leave for work at 7am!), and they wanted me to be doing 5-7 mile tempo runs during the week. Sorry, Smart Coach, canโ€™t do it! So I modified the plan. A lot. But making a plan work for you is what itโ€™s all about, right?

  • Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free January 10, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Thanks so much for this plan. I just signed up for my first half marathon and I didn’t even know where to start for a training plan!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) January 10, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I find that I normally combine a couple different training plans – tailored to fit in with what time I have available!!!

  • Ellen @FirednFabulous January 10, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I just did my first race this weekend. I don’t think I’m quite ready for training plans and such, I do try to make a rough plan for the week. Ie. two short runs, one long run, 2x/yoga, etc. It’s a start!

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good January 10, 2011, 6:13 pm

    I can’t say enough about Couch to 5K! I thought it was awesome!

    I am currently following a Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training schedule (just started last week). I am a 3x a week runner. If I can help it, I don’t run two days in a row. Seems to work better for me.

    Great, detailed training plan. Thanks for sharing!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 10, 2011, 6:52 pm

    I love how you’re so excited about the snow! When I wake up to snow, I think “Ugh, not again!” ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 10, 2011, 7:02 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I’ll hopefully be running a half soon and a full sometime this year and desperately need an organized training plan.

  • BroccoliHut January 10, 2011, 7:51 pm

    I just created my own training plan for my first half marathon last week. I wasn’t satisfied with anyone of the sample training plans I found online, so I just adjusted them to suit my usual mileage with a few longer runs thrown in.

  • kim January 10, 2011, 8:24 pm

    i have trained for several marathons years ago and again after a long break from outdoor running… spent 10 years on the treadmill… not good… anyway i have followed Hal Higgins on the run plan multiple times and it is a good one. of course the best plan is to be flexible and arrange things to work for your own schedule. I do a similar plan with excel! planning is half the fun!!

  • Mai January 10, 2011, 9:33 pm

    Do you do any strength training? How’d you decide between strength and yoga?

  • Mai January 10, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Also, any advice on what stretches are best for runners/good online stretching guides? Thanks!

  • Ashley@quasichick January 10, 2011, 10:27 pm

    I wanted a snow day so I could skip work..lol

    I’m a newbie to running so I am following the C25K ๐Ÿ™‚

  • maria @ Chasing the Now January 10, 2011, 11:15 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’m considering a half this year (if my body cooperates) and I will look back at this post to make my plan.

  • Jessica January 10, 2011, 11:32 pm

    I’m training for my first half marathon, and just recently put together a running plan. I looked at Hal Higdon’s plans, Runners World and other running blogs (including yours!) to come up with my plan in Excel. I’m also running 4 days a week, with the same 4 types of runs as you. I’m maxing out at 12 miles though, which is a distance I’ve never run before!

  • Cait January 11, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I have a question for you! I got a Garmin 305 for Christmas and I’m still learning how to use it. I can’t figure out how to see my pace for each mile of the run after my run is over and I’ve downloaded the data to my computer, and couldn’t figure it out by reading the help site either. Any tips??

    • Jessica January 11, 2011, 8:53 pm

      I just recently got a Garmin 305 too. To see your pace for each mile after the run, you have to set the “auto lap” on your Garmin so it automatically measures your pace for each individual mile. To do that, go to the Main Menu –> Training –> Training Options –> Auto Lap. Then you can select one mile for your auto lap. Alternatively, you can just push the “lap” button for each segment you want to measure.

    • Caitlin January 11, 2011, 9:21 pm

      That’s what I was going to say – Thanks Jessica!

      • Cait January 12, 2011, 11:32 am

        Thanks so much! This is such a great community ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Personal Trainers Vancouver January 14, 2011, 7:07 pm

    Running in the snow ?? sounds dangerous … Now try Mountain Biking in the Snow riding down a traill with 8″ of snow half powder half icy tracks from the first guy now thats fun stuff. Thanks for the posts and giving me more ideas for my training regiment …. I hate running unless someones chasing me LOL but this will help motivate me

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