They say that any attorney that represents himself has a fool for a client. I’m not sure if the same applies to a coach who designs her own training plan, but sometimes I feel that way. As I finish off week 14 out of 20 with the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge training plan, I want to take a quick look back before looking ahead.
Developing this plan has taught me so much about plan design and flexibility. The plan is sound, but I think it could use some tinkering. For example with 4 days a week of running, I am getting enough miles, but not as frequently as I would like. The miles could also be distributed better to avoid the 75+ minute runs that occur regularly. The easy 3 milers are almost too short in comparison to the other runs. So the first thing I’m doing is adding one optional run, and distributing the miles more evenly across the weekdays.
The other thing I learned is that I don’t like doing my long runs on Sundays. Looking back on November, I switched my long run from Saturday to Sunday for a couple of reasons: 1) Wine and Dine kind of put me on that track, and I just stuck with it, and 2) my Goofy simulations (back to back medium/long runs) were getting too long to do on Friday and Saturday. The weekend allowed more time to get all that running in. Moving the long run to Sunday means I’m taking Monday off. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, I just know I like to take Sunday to be lazy, and I love starting my week on Monday with a nice easy run — sets the tone for the week.
So looking ahead, I’m making some changes to the plan.
First, I’m adding one run per week to make it 5 days of running. 3 of those runs are 60 minutes or less. Running more frequently will help me mentally not just with my running, but with my Seasonal Depression. The shorter runs will also help me get the whole run and recovery in early without compromising too much sleep.
Second, I’m leaving the long run on Sunday for the remainder of the plan. It just keeps things consistent with Marathon weekend anyway. It’s not my favorite, but with 6 weeks to go in the plan, I feel like I can put up with it for a bit longer.
So now let’s look a bit deeper at the plan. Here’s the original Block 4 plan, structured like the previous blocks, created back in August. (insert PDF here)
And this is the Block 4 Modified with those changes I just mentioned. In this, I still have 2 Cross Training days and a full rest day, but 5 days a week of running rather than 4. Only one mid-week run exceeds 90 minutes.
Possible challenges for December
This year, we are doing something quite different from our normal Christmas tradition, and we are going to visit my parents in Florida. The weekend before Christmas will be filled with travel and a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Between the flights, the long drives, and the park time, there is a long run in there that just…might not happen. It’s planned, but I might skip it due to travel fatigue. The other issue is not knowing where to run in the area to which we are traveling. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get all the other runs in, but the long runs might be somewhat challenging. In short, I’m going to play it by ear. If all goes well in block 4, I might be able to afford to relax a bit that week, since we will be well into taper by then anyway.
Speaking of taper, December 15th is my longest run on the plan: 4 hours maximum or 20 miles, whichever comes first. I can pretty much say right now that I might get to 18 miles. I’m totally fine with that. I’ve seen the marathon distance multiple times, and as a Dopey finisher, I have that experience with the half and full back to back. I’m not concerned about getting to 20 miles.
So lessons learned?
Flexibility is the key to ANY training plan. While many coach-designed plans have a purpose in how they are laid out, there is room to move things around. Forcing yourself to be rigid in following the plan will only lead to stress and frustration when (not if) you miss a run or four. Letting myself make changes to the plan along the way has helped me tremendously.
Know what you need to be successful. Following a plan makes you twice as likely to accomplish your goal, but all plans…ALL of them are designed with a little wiggle room. Moving things around and re-distributing miles are ways I know I can be successful. This plan was designed by me with heavy influence from other coaches I’ve had. Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge is a beast, and I respect the distances involved. So getting the runs in are indeed priority, but so is the rest and recovery.
Consistency is one of the many keys to success, but so is flexibility. Look at your plan as a guide rather than strict orders. The flexibility will not only allow you to advocate for yourself and what you need, but also give you the mental break you need when you need it. Adhering strictly to the plan with no deviation can get mentally challenging, which can lead to burnout. Move things around. Play with the plan. Look carefully at what it is designed to do for you, and use it to work with your life.
My question is this: How is your training plan working for you?
Even though the Goofy Challenge is only two weeks beyond Block 4, we still want to look at how to recover from Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Stay tuned to the blog to see how I am planning RECOVERY into my training cycle.