I think one of the most challenging aspects of preparing for a race is to figure out what the right training plan is for you. It can be really overwhelming to figure out what exactly you need to do while you are training, especially if it is the first time that you running the distance, or even if it’s your first race!

I think having the right training plan is important not only to build up your physical strength, but to make you mentally strong as well. The right training plan will mean that you can be mentally focused on the race rather than worrying about your performance… the right plan will fill in those blanks.

So how do you know what the right training plan is for you? Obviously it varies based on your body. But, there are a few things to think about:

What are your goals? 
We all race for different reasons and not every race is a PR. Figuring out your race goals is the first step to figuring out your training plan.


If you are reaching for a PR, your training plan should reflect that… it should be a higher intensity and have more speedwork. If you are aiming to have a good time and finish, a strong plan that helps you build up your distance and endurance is important.

How much time do you have? 

A big big BIG thing to consider is the amount of time you have to train. Be real… yes, we would all love to run 50 or 60 miles a week while marathon training (oh… that’s just me?!).

Think about your training cycle and how much time you’ll have. Don’t set yourself up for failure by saying you’ll run 10 miles during the week when you barely have 30 minutes for a workout. Setting yourself up right will mean you are more successful as you are training, which is important both physically and mentally.
Based on your running history, what makes you feel the best?
I’ve learned over the years that I do horrible on race day if I run the day before. Yet most of the training plans tell you that you need a “shake out” run the day before. I know other people are completely different. They need to have that run in order to feel ready for race day.

{2012 Boston Marathon taught me SMILING helps me make it through the toughest runs}

There are other things that I’ve learned over the years… it’s important to think about what’s best for YOUR body. Training plans are great but they are generally built in general for people at your same skill level. So use it as guidance as you prep for your race… following the layout of runs and the general distance guidelines, but tweaking it as needed so it’s most successful for you.


How do you pick your training plan?

What are some things that work for you, but don’t work for others?

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