Runners Tell All: Training Tips

I've been linking up with Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch every month since they started the Runners Tell All Link-up....except last month when I had 40 billion things going on and totally forgot. Whoops. But I am back for this month and I am SO excited because the topic is one of my most favorite things in the whole world: training! Lately I have felt my training has been pretty lackluster, but I've recently recommitted to it so this prompt couldn't have come at a better time!


Before we get into this, you should really buckle up and brace yourselves because I am a Grade-A, 100% nutjob when it comes to my training. Just a warning.

After my first half marathon, I learned (the hard way) how important it is to follow a training plan. And I mean, really follow it. I know that doesn't apply to everyone, and I have friends who can more or less go out and wing a half marathon (which makes me sick), but I have learned that that does NOT work for me. What does work for me is putting in the work before race day, and showing up on race day feeling well-prepared. I think it's just as much a psychological thing as it is a physical thing. Train hard, suck less. That's my motto. The biggest thing I've learned when it comes to training is that it's not one size fits all. The following tips are things I've found to work for me:

1. Pick a training plan.
There are a million options out there, and sometimes it can be really overwhelming, especially if you're training for a big race for the first time. Unfortunately, this may require some trial and error. One thing I generally look for is frequency of runs. If the plan calls for more than 4 days of running per week, it's not for me. I know from previous experience that that is not something my body can handle. Another thing I look for is length of time. Generally I prefer to have more time for training than less. However, there is such a thing as too much time. If a training plan is too long it can lead to burn-out. With those things in mind, Hal Higdon is my go-to source for training plans.

2. Don't be afraid to modify it. 
The training plan you choose doesn't have to be the end-all be-all of your training. For my first half marathon, my training plan called for one 10-miler, and I added a 13-miler just for funsies. When race day came, I really didn't feel that my training had prepared me to feel comfortable enough with the 10+ mile territory. So when it was time to train for #2, I had 5 long runs of 10 miles or more, and I felt way more comfortable going beyond that on race day. I did the same thing when I trained for my first full marathon. My plan called for one 20-miler but I was afraid that wouldn't be enough, so I did that as well as an additional 22-miler. Running is so mental for me that I've found it really helps me to get close to race distance at least a couple times, even if that's not what my training plan tells me to do.

3. Make a spreadsheet. 
I am about to unleash a whole new level of crazy on you guys. Are you ready for this? When I make a new training plan, this is what happens:
Spreadsheets for daysssss, baby. Maybe (probably) this makes me a lunatic, but honestly, I see it as being really practical. Making a spreadsheet gives me an overview of how I'm going to get from today to race day. It also allows me to see what other plans or commitments I have before race day, so I can anticipate them and plan accordingly. Also, I just really like spreadsheets. 

4. Keep track of your progress.
The other benefit of having a training spreadsheet is that it's like a 3-month long to-do list, so I get the satisfaction of checking off workouts as I go along. One thing I like to do sometimes is go back to previous training logs to compare how I was doing then to how I'm doing during this training cycle. I even have a separate page on my current training plan spreadsheet just for that purpose (told ya I'm nuts). I've used various sites (Runkeeper, Nike+, DailyMile, GarminConnect) to keep track of all my runs since Day 1, and as a data nerd, I am so happy that I can look back and see how far I've come.

5. Embrace it.
I think burnout comes with the territory and we're all bound to experience it sooner than later. I think it's important to know that it exists, it's normal, and it will pass. There's no right or wrong way to deal with it. Some people just need to grit their teeth and get through it, others need to take time off. But as corny as it sounds, whether you're training for a 5k or an Ironman or something in between, you're working toward something amazing that relatively few people will ever actually achieve. The fact that you even wanted to train for something in the first place is huge, and having the physical and mental capacity to do so is a gift. So embrace it and love the roller coaster that is training for all its ups and downs!


20 comments :

  1. These are great tips! I especially love the "don't be afraid to modify it" and "embrace burnout" ones. Enjoyed your post!

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    1. Thanks, Kari! I need to take my own "embrace the burnout" advice right now! :X

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  2. I absolutely love this! And yes, spreadsheets for days!!!! Do you have some sort of template you give out? I'd love to try! And yes, train hard, suck less. Love that motto!!!! Thanks for all the tips!!!

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  3. Spreadsheets are my best friends during training. I also have a whiteboard that I hang next to my bed to keep me on track and remind me I need to train even though it's 5am and bed looks way more comfortable :) And ya the people who don't need to train suck...not really I'm just wildly jealous

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    1. One time I had a white board counting down to a race but it stressed me out SO much. I didn't end up doing the race (not because of that but because of burnout in general). I'm afraid to try it again ;) I usually keep a countdown on my phone for big races that I can check periodically, though. Haha yeah I'm not sure if I'm really disgusted by those people or just jealous?

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  4. I love spreadsheets in all situations. (I'm the girl who makes amortization schedules FOR FUN) Your sickness is mild compared to mine :)

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  5. i am so bad with training. my very first half marathon I didnt train at all, and the longest i ran was 6 miles a month or so before. oops. my second half marathon i was running regularly and i did maybe 10 miles a few times, but i ran almost every day 3-6 miles without fail, so i was confident in my ability, even though i wasnt running long distances. i missed my goal of under 2 hours by 4 minutes. my 3rd half marathon, again zero training, failed miserably. my 4th is coming up in just over 2 months and again I am sucking with the training. I need help. I love writing training plans out and spreadsheets are my best friend but... lazy is my lover. So... help. lol

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  6. Spreadsheets. Absolutely! Plus, it's so fun to look back.

    I need to check out this Runners Tell All linkup. I need to get in on that action. ;)

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  7. I love your spreadsheets, I am totally that girl! I'm tossing around the idea of doing a full next Fall, so I need to start shopping training plans. Just the idea makes me nervous! But I know a plan, when followed, usually yields good results for me. Thanks for linking up again!

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  8. Good tips! Your spreadsheets rock but I can tell ya right now I'm not disciplined enough for that. I do use my Garmin and that automatically uploads into a spreadsheet for me.

    That's interesting to me that you do 2 - 3 super long runs. I can only do 1 or maybe 2 super long runs for a training race. However, I do have friends that do longer runs like you and it really helps them.

    Thanks for sharing all this with us! I enjoyed reading it.

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  9. I need to bite the bullet and pick a half that's coming up and sign up - its on my 'bucket list' and I just keep putting it off. Thanks for the tips!

    A girl I know ran a half without training at all and was completely shocked when halfway through her toenail starting falling off. I laughed so hard when she told me that - I've never ran more than a 5K and even I knew that was normal

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  10. I HATE that people can wing a 1/2. Who are these people? Why is it so easy for them. Anyway, what great tips. I really love the spreadsheet idea, especially the idea of using it to track your times so that you can then compare - genius!

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    1. I don't know how they do it but I was not blessed with the runner gene so that doesn't fly for me! Comparing my times helps me figure out if my race goals are smart and attainable or just plain idiotic ;)

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  11. Okay, you kill me. Grade-A 100% nutjob. Ha! I DO think your spreadsheets are a bit crazy for me, BUT I totally get it. I make my own (pen and paper, yo) and tape it to my fridge. I honestly never thought about recording the pace/distance for training runs, though! I think that would be a good motivator. Glad you linked up! I always love reading your RTA posts. And the other ones too, of course :)

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  12. I can't imagine winging a half. I train for months for everything (although I'm nowhere near as intense as your spread sheet) an embrace the fact that I'm slow. My husband and I ran our first 10k in June. I trained for months, took an hour and a half, but ran the entire time and am super proud of myself. My husband, on the other hand, didn't train at all and finished in under an hour. It makes me crazy!

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  13. LOVE the spreadsheet idea! I use MapMyRun during runs but I've never thought of recording distance/pace. I really love that idea and may need to steal it!

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  14. I'm with you - anything more than 4 days of training and I'm out. My body (and mind) are just like NOPE and so I incorporate cross trainings on my other days so I don't feel like I'm losing fitness.

    I have run half-marathons with little training (longest distance 8 miles) and I was completely miserable for days afterwards. I did it on a whim with a friend but I probably had enough time to bust out at least a 10 miler, I just got lazy. Learned my lesson, that's for sure.

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  15. Woops, I meant to link up for this too! My bad. Remind me next month :)

    Anyway, yeah for Hal! I'm doing his half training program right now. I think {as far as I can tell, being a newbie to big races and all} that I'm very similar to you. I will not feel prepared on race day if I have just one 10-miler before then, no way. And spreadsheets? Girl, I got spreadsheets for training and races, and an entirely separate Google Calendar devoted JUST to recording my runs and times. Even from before I was in half training. Like, from the very first time I stepped out for a 1.5 mile "run." Crazy is as crazy does.

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  16. I really need to get with the spreadsheets! It really does help!

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  17. I like to have a specific plan, too. I write down {in detail} my workouts each week using Evernote. It's the best because I can access it from my phone if I'm at the gym.

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