Training Day

I’ve been thinking a lot about training lately. I’ve been contemplating what I do when I run, how I do it, and why. When I started running in September 2012, I was just running for the hell of it and trying not to die. I’ve progressed to trying to make goals for myself, and that means choosing a training plan. I wanted to write you all a big, fancy blog post on the conclusions I had come to about what my training program would be, but, to be honest with you, WordPress, I don’t really have a lot of answers yet.

This idea of “training” instead of just “running” all started with my crazy OCD running goals for 2013. My goal is to run in basically every variety of road race known to man (marathon distance and below) before the year is over. That goal may seem like it was chosen at random or just for the sake of being extreme… which is kind of true (go hard or go home!), but here’s where it really all came from: I want to run a marathon. I’m really afraid of trying to run a marathon or even saying out loud that I want to run a marathon. Apparently, I’m not that afraid of blogging about it, but blogging isn’t talking to people directly and blogging also isn’t running 26.2 miles. I digress…

So, I thought that if I started with small races and worked my way up, eventually a marathon wouldn’t seem so scary.


Has anyone ever noticed that there is no intermediate race distance between a half marathon and a full marathon? Can I get a 75% marathon somewhere?

Anyway, long story short, I am slowly realizing that the important part of getting ready for a marathon is the daily training in non-racing contexts, not the smaller races. As long as I know something about how races work, the hard part is going to be running for 26.2 miles, not the “race” aspect. That’s when I really started focusing my research on training, and I started asking around regarding how people train.

There’s Hal Higdon. A LOT of people really like this plan, and I’d say it’s one of the most popular training plans online. The advantage of this plan is how it drops back every month or so for a slower recovery week.

My academic advisor talked to me about her plan in which she ups her mileage on long runs every other week, and on the off weeks, runs 90 minutes or 9 miles. She also recommended that I start from a base of at least 21 miles per week. She does three 7-mile runs a week, and one of those is longer during training.

Another faculty member/crazy-fast runner told me about the Furman FIRST running plan, so I went to take a look. Dude man is not messing around. That plan scares me so bad. I have thought about giving track workouts a try, but  I’m slow, and track runners are SO FAST.


Maybe they’re fast because they train to be fast. Ever thought about that, Allison?

I started thinking about the prospects of running on a track once a week and it just sounds kind of awful to me. Long miles on the road allow me to channel a day’s worth of stress and I love how it makes me feel. Would running on a track be the same? I kind of doubt it.

So, anyway, the current plan is to go for a half marathon in March, April, or May. I have no training plan for that half marathon, other than the fact that I’m working up to running at least seven miles three times a week instead of the more frequent, shorter runs I had been doing. Is anyone running a half around that time? Do you know of any half marathons that you would recommend?

What is your training philosophy? Does anyone have any words of wisdom they’d care to share?



  1. Mind Margins/Run Nature

    I think Higdon’s plans are excellent, and I like your academic advisor’s advice. You need to have a good base built up to start training for a marathon. Don’t worry about track work or speed for your first marathon. Your only goal is to finish. It’s an instant PR. If it’s a hilly marathon course, train on hills, and you will naturally get stronger and faster. I would recommend running four days per week in training, if possible, to start. I wouldn’t even look at Furman until you have a few marathons under your belt, and only if you’re really interested in getting super fast.

    • amhow

      Thanks for the advice. I really think I agree with you. The track runs just seem like a bit too much for where I am right now. But I was doubting myself since I started thinking that in order to get faster, I need to start training that way from the very beginning. I would really love to run four days a week, but I’m trying to figure out how to make that work in my schedule. Right now I run Mondays, teach two Zumba classes on Tuesdays, run Thursdays, and do my long run on Saturday. I’d like to incorporate some yoga and strength training in there too. Too much to do, too little time 🙂

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