I’ve never liked training plans. Partly because I have a really hard time following them and I typically hate doing things I’m not good at. And partly because I don’t like being told what to do—especially when an inanimate object is doing the telling.
But mostly it’s that first thing.
Despite my general distaste for training plans, and my history of failing to actually follow one, I decided to try one again to prepare for the Pack Monadnock 10 Miler. I downloaded a 12-week plan from SmartCoach and promptly edited the shit out of it in an attempt to make it easier for me to stick to.
I changed virtually all of the mileages, shuffled everything around (except the long runs), added in Boot Camp (my favorite class at the gym), and substituted spinning and/or yoga for all of the rest days. I also made Fridays double days (easy run + spin) and made Wednesdays alternate between track sessions and hill workouts. When I was done futzing around with the plan, I sat back and admired my work—and actually found myself a little excited to have the next 84 days completely mapped out for me.
In the past, the biggest factor in my failing to stick with a training plan has been that I was trying to train for a spring race…which meant training in the winter. And I could never talk myself into weekend long runs when playing in the snow was an option. When Tim broke his collarbone in early March, his—and therefore, my—ski season abruptly ended (although I did manage to get out one or two more times without him), leaving more time to run.
Without the distraction of snowboarding, I found it much easier to follow the plan on the weekends (what a surprise!)…and that seemed to make it easier to stick to in general, with the exception of a few hiccups early on and then again toward the end of the cycle. At the end of 12 weeks, my training calendar looked like this:
Out of the 96 scheduled workouts, I skipped (only) 19 of them, made last-minute changes to 22 of them, and added 14 extras in the form of hikes and bike rides once the weather got nice. Over the course of the training cycle, my hill runs got a tiny bit less terrible, my track times got a tiny bit faster, and I covered more miles than I ever really expected to (380, all things combined!). I’m left now with two questions:
Could I have done better? Sure, but I know myself well enough to know that I’ll never be able to follow a training plan 100%—even it’s 200% guaranteed to make me PR. I also know that I’m almost never training exclusively for one event. During this particular training cycle I was also halfheartedly “training” for the RIDE to End Alzheimer’s in July (hence all the spinning). But despite not focusing solely on the Pack race, I made it to the starting line arguably more prepared than I have for any other race and still managed to finish well under 2 hours (my primary race goal).
Am I a training plan convert now? Oddly enough, I think I might be! Now that the race is over, I’ve felt sort of lost all week. It feels weird not having a piece of paper to consult every day; not having a box to put either a pretty green ✓ or an ugly red X in. On the other hand, I could be making a new plan to get ready for my Mt. Shasta trip/ Alzheimer’s Ride next month and I’m not…so maybe I’m not quite a convert yet. However, I will likely do it again for whatever fall race I sign up for and, out of sheer stubborness/self-competitiveness, will try even harder to stick to it. So it’s entirely possible I may end up hooked then. This question will just have to be tabled for now.