Creating a Training Plan

Hello lovely people, happy Wednesday! Is anyone else feeling like this week is dragging it’s feet? I’m pretty sure it’s been Thursday since, like, Monday. That always seems to happen when I’m looking forward to something at the weekend though.

Since making the announcement that I’m running another marathon this winter, I’ve been working on tweaking a training plan for my fall races + marathon training. I talked about it a bit in my post about choosing another marathon, but one of my main concerns is avoiding burn out. I LOVE to train, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m rigidly stuck in a never ending training cycle. So, the question became, how can I train so I’m ready for these intense races I have in the fall, while also holding back so I’m not going into marathon training in November already tired, burned out, and with dead legs?

From training this January....SO looking forward to running in those temps again...not.

From training this January….SO looking forward to running in those temps again…not.

I got asked a really interesting question this past Monday, which was whether I was planning on training for the marathon on trails. To an extent, I’ve always trained for marathons with some “trail running”. This mostly consists of running on the nicely kept, pretty flat, urban trails that circle around town. They’re beautiful and fun to run on, and easier on my body than constant road running. But, those aren’t the trails I’m running on most of the time now. Lately, I’ve been tackling more technical, more incliney (totally a word) trails that are much more challenging and not that appealing to fast paced 18 mile training runs.

I don’t want to train for the marathon solely on trails. It’s important to balance the amount of road running and trail running, so when I transition to marathon training my body doesn’t experience any kind of shock from the change in terrain. So, balance is the name of the game, my friends!

As I started mapping out my training plan this is what I kept in mind:

  • The need to build a base. I’m still working towards my usual amount of mileage and have been in the 14-18 mile range for about a month now. It’s time to kick it up, but without increasing my overall mileage too quickly.
  • The need for speed. An 8 minute mile is HARD for me right now. I know that the majority of my speed will come back as my endurance comes back, but I need to incorporate speed training into my weekly routine.
  • Hills. I have a looooot of elevation gain in my upcoming races and I need to practice running UP more.
  • Balancing trail and road running.
  • Making sure I have planned rest weeks strategically planned in order to avoid burnout and injury as much as possible.

So, instead of trying to do everything at once, I decided to focus on one race at a time.

Flagstaff Half Marathon

For the Flag Half in September, the plan is to train for mileage as I normally do for any race. Long runs on Saturdays, increasing each week by two miles, with a rest week every three weeks (in my mind I think of it as two weeks on, one week off). The only difference will be my long run will be on a trail somewhere that promises elevation play. I may even try to train a bit on the course itself.

Speed work on Mondays will be replaced by hill repeats. I’ll find a long, steady hill (I have several in mind) and practice running up and up and up.

Tuesday’s will be a recovery run, most likely on the road, and (probably) with Rudy in tow, followed by some basic strength moves (core work, push ups etc).

Wednesday’s will continue to be 1/2 of my long run (6 miler for 12 mile long run, for example) at race pace. For the Flag Half, I’ll probably just try to run with some kind of speed added in: fartleks, or a progression run. It won’t be insane or hard, but it’ll get my legs to remember how to move quickly.

Thursday will be a strength/yoga/Pilates day.

Friday’s will consist of an easy recovery run (again, most likely on roads) followed by some basic strength moves.

Saturday’s are long runs. I only plan on running 12 miles prior to the half marathon, since I won’t need to run more for the half, or for Soulstice.

Sunday’s will be chock full of REST.

Soulstice Mountain Trail Run 

The Flag Half is on 9/16 and Soulstice is on 10/9, which means I only have two weeks in between the two races. So, not a whole lot of extra training will go into prepping for Soulstice. I’ll take a rest week following the half, followed by a 9ish miler the week after and then the race.

Ragnar McDowell Mountain 

I’m not terribly concerned about Ragnar. I plan on really resting for a bit in between Soulstice and Ragnar and before marathon training will pick up. I’ll maintain a good amount of mileage, but may ease back on some of the workouts. I’m really going to use this time to reflect how I feel and act on what my body needs.

And after Ragnar is over, training for IMS PHOENIX MARATHON will be in full force!

My training plan will follow the basic weekly setup as training for the Flag Half, except I’ll be focusing more on speed workouts than hills on Mondays, and transition from primarily trail running, to primarily road running. I still plan on running on trails when I can (according to snowfall), and will utilize the treadmill on those brisk mornings where running outside at 5am is not an option.

I plan on doing some reviewing of my training from the Phoenix Marathon and make necessary tweaks for training this time around.

This is obviously a rough guide to what I hope to be doing this fall and winter. 8 months is a long time to plan for, so necessary changes will be made as they arise. But for the most part, that’s what I’m looking at!

Bring it on!
What do you take into consideration when creating training plans? Do you have a general “routine” you follow? 


12 thoughts on “Creating a Training Plan

  1. Great plan! It seems as though you have really thought it out and have figured out what works best for you! I usually think about my previous races and what weaknesses I can address. I do tend to truncate my mid distance and long run back to back on Friday/Sunday to get my legs used to running far on tired legs. I look forward to following your journey! Hope you have a great Wednesday!


    • Thanks! I chose IMS this year because it’s a flat course versus BMO’s hillier version. The one hill on BMO’s course wasn’t bad, but I’d rather run flat than put my legs through the additional strain of up and downs. Plus it was only $35 😉


  2. Great training plan and seems like a great year of running ahead. I love Ragnar races and even though they are less serious they are so much fun. Best of luck and look forward to reading more.


  3. Great plan! Looking forward to reading all about your progress and your races. I like to look at what went wrong in my last race to have a focus on what I need to do for the next training block. Right now, I’m focusing on battling tired legs in the later miles of a marathon – so fast finishes, high mileage, and running on tired legs it is!


  4. Sounds like you’ve got this all figured out Nona! You are ready to go and it looks like the timing of everything will be perfect! Plus your races sound so fun. Fall + trails = too much beauty to handle!

    The first thing I consider when I’m crafting a plan is what my priorities are for the race/cycle. For Grandma’s, I wanted a huge time goal, so it was all about mileage, mileage, mileage. But for my next marathon, it’s not as simple as just keeping what worked for Grandma’s and ditching what didn’t, because I have different priorities. Since I don’t have a time goal in mind and I want to focus on my overall fitness, I’ve been crafting a plan that emphasizes balance and trying new things. Once I set my priorities for the race then I can do the nitty gritty of scheduling workouts, mileage, etc.


  5. I’m just kind of making it up as I go since this is my first marathon. I’m excited to follow your training and take all the advice I can get! Looks like you have everything planned out perfectly for your needs 🙂


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