Saturday, June 28, 2014

Training Plan Indecision

Emily and I have registered to run the Rock 'n Roll St. Louis half marathon on Sunday, October 19th.  Ever the planner, I'm agonizing over training plan options for the race.  Should we do a 12-week plan or opt for 10- or 16-week versions?  How much speedwork should we include?  Do we need to run 13 miles in training or is 11 miles enough?  Are we best off following a beginning plan or can we move up to intermediate?  I've run one half and Emily has run five, so we're not exactly novices, but the leap from the beginning plans to the intermediate ones looks monumental.  In short, I've spent far too much time perusing options and far too little time tackling my summer organization projects.  (That bathroom closet will just organize itself, right?!)

Shall I admit how long I contemplated options for an image of indecision?

The plan I followed for my first half was put together by Coach Christine Hinton, a mother runner who has created many training plans for the Another Mother Runner tribe.  I liked the variety of the plan and its flexibility.  Each week included speedwork, varying between hills, intervals, and tempo runs, and the long runs often gave a range, which made them feel more achievable from a mental standpoint.  On that plan, I ran four days per week, cross-trained two, and took one day completely off.  This seemed like a good balance for me and one that I'd like to repeat this training cycle.

So if I liked that plan so much, why am I wasting time hemming and hawing over other options?  In part because I just did it and would like to try something new.  But none of the "something new's" are standing out as good options.  I've been surprised to find many plans that don't include step-back weeks.  I'm certainly no expert, but from my research I believe that a sound training principle is to increase mileage by 10% for three weeks and then step back a notch before increasing again.  Surprisingly, many of the plans I've come across don't follow this rule of thumb.

Because I'm being ridiculously picky with the plans that are readily available, I'm considering collecting bits and pieces from multiple plans and Frankenstein-ing my own plan together.  If I follow the structure and mileage increase rules described above, I think I can put a reasonably coherent plan together.  I'll certainly give it a try, and if all else fails, I know I have Coach Christine's brilliant plan as a back-up.  Assuming a 12-week training cycle, we'll plan to get the party started on July 28th.  I'll update with our training plans then.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for specific training plans or advice on creating my own plan, I'm all ears!