Change of Plans

Many, many people have trained for and successfully completed their first marathon using one of the countless training plans out there. But I can’t shake the feeling that the plan I first picked might not be the right one!

You see, through training for 3 half marathons and going through ACL reconstruction, I’ve discovered a few inalienable truths: I cannot run more than 2 days in a row without extreme joint pain; the day after my long run I need movement but my knees hate me; etc. So the cookie cutter plans that have worked for SO many others kind of won’t work.

After my first month of Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan, I’ve found that skipping that middle day of running and replacing it with cross training won’t work – I still need those miles to build a solid running base. But I also have to break up the runs so I don’t burn out, while still incorporating strength and cross training. And don’t forget building up to a distance that’s close to the full 26 miles… It’s enough to make a girl go insane. But instead of losing my mind, I took matters into my own hands and created my very own plan!

I found this great plan on and liked the increased mileage on the long runs: mentally, I need to know that I’ve gotten as close to that magic number of 26 in my training so that I’m prepared to take it on come race day. But it lacked cross training, which Hal’s Novice 2 had plenty of, although it only took me up to 20 miles. Factoring in all of my special needs, I finally came up with a custom-made plan that knocks it out of the park, if I say so myself! Here’s a sample week:

  • Sunday: 15 miles (Long Run)
  • Monday: Swimming
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 7 miles
  • Thursday: Cross Training or Rest
  • Friday: 4 miles (Speedwork)
  • Saturday: Rest

Basically what I did was break up the 3 days of running in a row in Higdon’s plans, changed the rest day after my long run to a cross-training day with swimming (saving my knees around the long runs), and increased the mileage of the long runs each week by 2 or 3 miles to have  me peak with 23 miles instead of 20. I don’t know why but it makes me feel more prepared, just let me have my little bit of madness!

So there you have it: my new plan, which will (hopefully) bring me across the finish line in October with both legs intact and a smile on my face. What do you think? How have you worked through your training schedule? Am I being crazy here? Tell me in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Change of Plans

  1. I come up with my own training plans all the time. The main thing is that you will be comfortable with this new plan, which will make the training much more enjoyable. Can’t wait to hear how it works for you!


  2. This is great! Every runner is different and I am a firm believer in using those cookie-cutter programs only as a basis that you can alter according to your needs and schedule.

    The only thing I would suggest (which I’m sure you’ll do because you already do anyway!) is to really listen to your body when you start doing those longer long runs. Research shows that after you hit 3 hours running (especially if you’re just getting used to higher mileage), your risk of injury goes wayyyy up and recovery after a longer run like that will take a lot longer, which then limits the training you can do during the week or two after that. I totally understand the need to be mentally prepared, but when it comes to the marathon, when you get out there you will be so excited there will be no stopping you! Yes, you will probably hit “the wall” at some point (usually between miles 18-22) – but almost everyone does no matter how long their longest training run is. The most important thing is not getting injured before you even start the marathon 😀 However, with that being said, if you can do 20+ miles without your body giving up on you, then go for it and do that kind of mileage at least 3 weeks before your marathon so you have time to recover before running 26.2!

    I myself plan on running 4-5 20+ mile runs this second time around, but I promised myself I wouldn’t go past 3.5 hours and these runs will be spread out (usually 3 weeks apart). I should probably finalize my training schedule soon and publish it!

    P.S. Sorry to write such a long comment! I’m just so hooked on your journey and want everything to go so well for you! 😀


    • Thank you SO much for the tips!! I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs to create something a little more tailored.
      I had no idea about the 3+ hour research, that’s extremely helpful and I may want to re-adjust now! I think it’ll be ok though: I’m scheduled to hit 20 miles 5 weeks prior to race day, and 23 miles 3 weeks prior (that’s really the only . After that taper is 11 miles then 8 miles. I’ve only got 2 runs of 20+, and my weekly mileage is scaled back too, so I never go above 38 miles per week.
      And don’t apologize for the lengthy comment, this is all fantastic insight that I wouldn’t find anyplace else and I really appreciate it! Thank you so much for following along and helping 🙂


  3. Great job! I’m not much of a runner now but distance running was how I got into the fitness lifestyle, and I agree with you on making your own plan. Everyone has their own individual challenges and strengths, and you’ve made a plan to work around your challenges and emphasize your strengths, while keeping your eyes on your goal and getting closer to it every day. Cool stuff, keep it up!


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