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 CoolRunning.com 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!