For the few days when I wasn’t sure if I was going to run Atlanta or run Cincinnatti, I was contemplating the training program on a number of levels mostly on a theoretical level. Then to add some intellectual fuel to the fire, I had a fellow runner whom I’ve helped coach in the past introduce me to a friend of hers who is in need of training advice right now. And thus the inspiration to compose this post was born in the neurons of my mind. Ironically, her training program is for the Flying Pig Marathon (the other marathon on my short list) in May! Cue Twilight Zone Intro theme…
So what about the training program. What is it good for? What is it not good for? Can you do with out one? Which training program is best? Can you miss a day? The answer is “Yes, No, Maybe So… (Can you repeat the question)” and I am going to explore the training program on a somewhat shallow level. I’m not really wanting, at this time, to get into an in depth philosophical debate on things like VO2 levels or frequency of 20+ mile runs.
That was MY plan (cue evil laughter)
Just like a plane doesn’t take off with a flight plan, a runner should have a some form of training program. It provides the basic structure a runner should follow in order to be at some level of training on race day. Ideally, we’d like to have some sort of goal on the level of training, but in the beginning of a running career, being too specific is a disaster waiting to happen. So we find a plan, or have someone lead us to one, to follow that we think will work. The core of it being: I am here at point “A” with physical condition “X” and I would like to be at Point “B” with physical condition “Y” at time “T”.
A training program is not something set in stone but more like a guideline or a best case scenario. I’m guessing here, but for most, the training program is as much as a “Work in Progress” as the actual training. Life happens and that causes us to tweak it, usually pretty frequently.
Training programs can be very simple and straightforward to highly technical with the need for some electronic gadget attached to the body. In the end, a runner does what scientist call “Work”, which is the running part and it “teaches” the body, if we things correctly, how to handle the rigors of running. Some training programs concentrate on different ways of measuring the “Work” being done on the body and this will result in feedback on how things are progressing (or regressing). I’m thinking I will touch on some of the different ways of measuring “Work” in an upcoming blog post, but for now it is just about “The Plan”
The experienced runner may not use one particular training program but rather create their own hybrid program consisting of the core components shared by almost all training plans. Of course, the danger in making your own is that it becomes so complicated or so bloated with technical mumbo jumbo that it is ineffective and gives you a big fat DNF (Did Not Finish). But I bang on the pulpit that you will learn so much more about yourself from a DNF then any completed race. (Ooooo, a post about DNF… more ideas for future articles are being birthed).
My original idea to write about the Training Plan, since I was in the process of making my own, has started to morph into something larger. I’m now to at least 2 other blog posts about training programs (changes and components) but there may be more… who knows my own training plan for the Georgia Marathon might end up being a post by itself.