Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stumbling Through 26.2 - Part 1: Picking a Plan

The one thing I get asked the most by readers across my social media platforms is how I train for the races I run. I don't think I'm a training expert in any sense of the word, but I've been a distance runner for a couple years now and have definitely picked up a few tricks that work for me along the way. I thought it'd be great to share my pointers on how to get through 26.2 miles through a small series I like to call "Stumbling Through 26.2" or "The most accurate description of how Riley runs marathons". If you're interested in running a marathon, then I hope you find the next few posts helpful.

Today I'm going to talk about one of the most crucial components to training: picking your plan. There's a million and one training plans out there (found with a quick Google search!), so it's important to pick the plan that works best for you. I've used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 program for both of the marathons I've run because it fits both my schedule and my skill level equally as well.

Regardless of what program you choose, you should make sure of a few things:

1. You have at least one long run a week. These are your most important runs of each week. These are the runs that are going to impact your training the most and will ultimately carry you across the finish line on race day. These training runs will increase your stamina, strength, and allow you to practice your fueling techniques. One day of your week should be dedicated to these runs, probably a day of the week you typically have off. (You can always join the #SundayRunday club with me!)

2. Your training plan fits well with your day-to-day schedule. I typically shoot for fall marathons because I'm usually working a lot less during the summer and have more time on my hands to train. Training for a marathon takes a LOT of time (3 hour long runs aren't unheard of) and you should make sure you have the time to commit to it before registering for the race itself.

3. Focus on the first 3 weeks when picking a plan. If you feel like you can get through the first 3 weeks of a program comfortably, then that's probably the plan for you! Training plans are designed to train you (shocker, I know) over 16-20 weeks, and you'll start to build your endurance over the first few weeks, to then help you with the next few weeks, and so on. Don't focus on the fact that you'll have to eventually run 20 miles during your training. Take it one run at a time and trust that your body will build up the strength to get you through your training, because it will!

4. Put your plan somewhere you can see it. I usually put mine right in my planner where I know I'll see it every day, but you can put it anywhere - on your fridge, on the dashboard of your car, on your mirror - as long as you know you'll look at it often and be aware of the distances you need to run each week! It's easy to fall into the out of sight/out of mind trap when you can't see your plan, so putting it somewhere that you'll see it every day will help you stick to it.

With all of these things in mind, you'll be able to find the right plan for you. Starting a training program can be pretty scary, but if you trust your body and stick ot everything your plan outlines, you'll be able to get through it - I promise!


  1. Ughhh there are so many training plans out there it's overwhelming!

    1. It is! I just picked one and adjusted it to my needs. Marathon training takes such a long time that it's often difficult to follow plans to the T.

  2. i really admire runners. to push yourself to your limits and to have such discipline, i could never do it!

    1. I'm sure you could! Most of long distance running is done with your mind. You have to trick yourself into believing you can do it and it WILL get done! :)