“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”
If that was strictly true, then I ought to be the most successful person in history! I LOVE a good plan. In fact, I spend an unhealthy amount of time creating one. If you’ve ever tried to follow a training plan though, then you’ll know that there are two major problems.
No. 1: Having the best plan in the world isn’t enough. You actually have to do it (A lesson I should have learnt from my GCSE revision plan!)
No. 2: A plan is theoretical. Keeping it flexible and knowing when to abort and re-plan is the real skill.
So with that in mind, here’s what I’ve come up with for the next 3 months.
There might by other targets along the way, but I always start my planning with my main goal and then work backwards. I debated long and hard about whether to run the full marathon at Bournemouth, or
just the half. But after a lot of deliberation, my target is……
*insert drum roll here*
A sub 1:39 Half marathon at Bournemouth marathon festival on the 7th October.
Well I guess that makes it official. My current half marathon PB is 1:45:25, so my aim is to go almost 6 minutes quicker. Or 7:30 minute mile pace.
I’d love to have committed to the full marathon. I watch (in awe) as so many runners on social media run multiple marathons in the space of a few months and I ALMOST got carried away and signed up. But here’s my advice:
Do what’s right for you, not what everyone else is doing.
Everybody is different. It’s taken me a long time to accept this, but I know from experience that if I keep my mileage high for too long then I’m particularly injury prone. Ultimately that leads to no running at all (and a very grumpy me!)
I’m really hoping that my time from Edinburgh marathon (3:38:58) is enough for a good for age place in London next year. If so, that will be my number 1 focus and my build up will need to start in Dec/Jan time. So trying to fit another marathon in between just wasn’t the right decision for me. Now that I’ve made that choice, I’m okay with it. And I’m actually REALLY excited about the challenge of some more speed work. Because this plan is ALL about the speed!
The Running Bit
I used to think to run faster I needed to run more. This last cycle though, has taught me the benefits of cross training to improve my running, not just to prevent injury. So my plan for the next 3 months is to only run 3-4 times a week, but to make each run count. That does still qualify me as a runner, right?
Session 1: Steady short run (Wednesday)
This starts at about 4 miles, but never goes above 7. In terms of pace, the point is to make 8mm pace feel easy. I’m therefore going to progress from 8.30 gradually down to 8mm pace as the weeks go on.
Session 2: Hill work and short intervals (Fast Friday!)
This is the session I’ll add in after 4 weeks to boost my total runs from 3 to 4. The focus will be on strength as well as speed. My plan builds from 15x 20 second uphill repeats to 10x 40 seconds uphill and then drops to the flat for some short, fast intervals culminating in a 10x400m session aiming for 5 min 54 pace. A thought that petrifies me right now.
Session 3: Long run (Sunday-obviously)
I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to plan a training block without a Sunday long run, isn’t it? I’m gradually going to build my time up to 90 minutes with some runs being easy, and some with long, race pace intervals. I think the most helpful thing I did in the lead up my Edinburgh PB was running sections of my long run at race pace. As well as teaching my body what that feels like, it was a great confidence boost. For me that’s a huge part of the battle. I’ve also got a couple of races planned and a 10k time-trial so that I can start to gage whether I’m on track.
Session 4: Classic intervals (Tempo/track Tuesday)
Starting with 4x400m and building up to 3x3000m. This session and the fast Friday session are a little bit interchangeable. I’m planning to start going to the track with a friend once a week, so I’ll probably pick the session that would make the most sense to do on the track on the day that we’re able to go. I’ll still do both sessions, but maybe just swap the days on occasion.
I’ve got two races in the diary in the build up to Bournemouth half marathon. The first is Salisbury12345 in a couple of weekends time. To be honest, it doesn’t really half a lot to do with my plan. It’s a trail race, so not fast, but I ran it in 2016 and loved it. It was a really well organised, friendly event so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have another go.
The second is the new forest half marathon. I’ve not run this race since it re-launched in 2015. Again, it’s not particularly fast, but both events give me chance to practise race fuelling etc which is always valuable.
Over the last six months I’ve worked really hard to improve my strength and power. Whilst I do find it hard to balance strength training with not being too fatigued to run hard when needed, I definitely feel that it’s improved my running.
I’m going to try and keep this part of my plan flexible, but as a rule I think I’ll aim for 1-2 strength sessions (probably body pump and grit strength) each week. I found grit cardio/plyo was great for building power, so I’ll probably try to keep that going too, at least initially, on a Saturday morning. And if I’m at the gym on a Saturday I might as well do barre, for no sensible reason other than the fact that it makes me super happy! The only other thing I’ll try and fit in is a Monday recovery session of either yoga, pilates or body balance. I’ll probably keep tweaking my cross training as the intensity of my running sessions increase, but I’m determined to keep as much as I can without crossing the line of overtraining and it becoming detrimental.
All that’s left
I don’t think for a minute this plan will be easy, and I have no idea if I can hit some of the interval times I’ve set, but I’m really happy with the 3-4 runs a week. It feels efficient that each session has a clear purpose and I’m going to try and learn from my previous experiences and keep re-planning as often as needed rather than ploughing on regardless (she says now!).
As I write this, there’s only 10 weeks, 0 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes and 57…..56…..55….54…. seconds to go until race day….
Let the adventure begin.