Changing up a training plan?

So the training plan that I’ve been using (and sort of like, although it’s very light on running) calls for cross-training on Mon, Wed, & Fri, and running on Tues & Thurs. The weekends are supposed to be long runs – this past weekend was supposed to be two miles. I’ve been walking instead of running, mostly because I’m super busy, super stressed, and it’s super hot – for me to run two miles means I will have to be outside for over half an hour, and some days have been dangerous hot. This leads to me thinking about something that gets really frustrating sometimes: I am super slow.

Some days I don’t care so much – I’m just proud that I get out and run at all. This week I’ve seen tons of FB posts and blog posts trying to reinforce the idea that I’m not competing against other people, I’m only competing against myself, and as long as I strive to be better than I was, that’s a win. It doesn’t seem to be doing my brain any good, because I’ve been getting more and more discouraged by how slow I am. My 5K times haven’t really gotten any better, and my lungs can’t handle me running faster than 3.5 mph. I’ve signed up to do the Ocean City 5K, which was the first 5K I ever ran, last October. I’ve been hoping that my time will be better than last year’s – I was at 52:15 the first time around and I would just LOVE to wind up SOMEWHERE in the 40 minute range – even if it’s 49 minutes, 59 seconds. I read about people running 10 miles in one run, and I’m thinking, “I’d have to plan a whole day around one run.” I’d seriously need to set aside at least 4 hours. I don’t like to be restricted by anything other than what I decide in my mind – I feel sort of like a prisoner in my body sometimes, and it’s getting me down.  

I haven’t been doing any speed training, as my plan doesn’t call for it, and I think that’s kind of a problem. I love speed training, probably because if I’m going to see any kind of good times, that’s where they’ll be. I have run a mile in under fifteen minutes a handful of times – only during speed training (and during one 5K, my first mile out was under 15 mins and I have no idea how it happened, but I’d like to replicate that!)  

My runs have been twenty to twenty five minutes long on this plan – I try to manage .5K during one run/walk portion, so in ten minutes I’ll have run a whole K, and in twenty I’ll run 2K. I usually wind up slowing down towards the end of my intervals, and it’s really frustrating, but at least that’s some kind of plan to get close to a sub-50 minute 5K. This week we ramp up to twenty five to thirty minutes.

Tonight is supposed to be a cross-training or walking night, but I think I’m going to do some kind of speed workout. Maybe I’ll gear up after work and go to the canal and just run the stress away. I think I’ll give fartleks another shot – normally I’m not disciplined about fartleks since there’s no structure, and I wind up giving myself more breaks than I need, but I just feel like I need to run.

Do you have a structured plan you use or one you make up yourself? Do you ever stray from your training plan if you feel like it’s just not working for you? 


10 thoughts on “Changing up a training plan?

  1. Hey Sarah. I love fartleks – as you know ;-). Like you, I probably walk more when I do them, but the sprints tend to be much faster, which is great for improving speed in the long term. The important thing though is to have fun with them and just enjoy that feeling of running fast.
    Hope you have a great run! 🙂

  2. I think training plans are useful for people registered for a event that’s beyond where they’re at now. Personally, I don’t like following plans because they tend to progress faster than I do and that’s when I get injured! My running distances plateau for a while and every season I just push myself a little further.

    You’re right about the summer heat being dangerous. Running slow feels safer because there’s less risk of overheating. Don’t sweat your speed!

    • I’ll try not to sweat the speed! You’re right, some of the training plans I’ve used jump really quickly to lengthier distances and longer running times – I’ll be making up my own in-between steps when it comes to that!

      I’ve run a few 5Ks, so I wanted to switch to a 10K training plan, but the first day of the Couch to 10K was a 4 mile run, which seems like too much for a beginner.

  3. I chose a plan that was simple enough I knew I could follow it so I wouldn’t need to make a change halfway through. I’m doing my half marathon training right now for my first one in September. I made sure I picked one that only had running 3 days a week because I know my body needs those “rest” days in between (even though I’m doing other exercise) and it’s a 4 min run/2 min walk plan. All I need to do is finish and I’ll be happy. If I finish last, so be it. It sucks being slow and taking so long in this heat, but one day we won’t be slow anymore.

    • I picked the plan I’m using now because it seemed really simple, but it’s not giving me everything I want – I think I’m going to tweak it here and there instead of changing to a new one. I want to keep the consistency. I think sticking with the same plan probably yields better results. Good luck with your half training- running a half is my ultimate goal!

  4. Feel free to switch up your plan! I use training plans all the time as just a suggested guideline and a “you should run far this day, fast this day, and cross train this day”. I rarely follow the plan exactly.
    If you feel like you can handle more running, add more running! Just make sure you don’t push yourself too far and injure yourself.
    Also, I hear you on feeling slow. My lungs are my limiting factor as well and it really pisses me off at times. I’ve switched to a lot of treadmill running in the summer to avoid the heat, and I make almost every run a speed training. I do my first 0.5 miles at my regular pace, push it up to +1 mph for at least a half mile (I try to go as long as I can at this faster pace and really push myself, my goal is usually to hit a full mile at the faster pace), drop down to -1mph from your normal pace (or more depending on how hard you pushed on the fast) for 0.5 miles and repeat. I usually try to go for 2-3 miles like this. I’ve noticed that it’s easier and easier to push myself at the faster pace for a full mile, and I’ve been upping the pace on the fast parts
    Don’t get discouraged!

    • Thanks! and that’s a great interval idea – I think I’ll give it a try next time I hit the treadmill. I will probably stick to the general plan but I’ll tweak a few days to add more running and a speed training day – the speed training definitely makes a difference, even if my progress seems slow.

  5. Hi Sarah,

    Here’s a good article on increasing your mileage safely. You can create your own plan based on how you’re feeling, or you can modify the one you have. Also, if you want to get more miles in in a day or don’t have time for your full planned workout, you can break your run up into two parts every once in a while and run half in the morning and half in the evening. I find that when I’m feeling slow or have plateaued, its helpful to leave the watch at home and just enjoy the scenery once in a while. You definitely don’t want to forget about the other enjoyable aspects of running!

    If you do a search on runners world for increasing mileage, there are a whole bunch of other interesting articles. Actually, it’s really just an addicting site, even if a good chunk of the articles are for elites. The women’s running section is also cool.

    – Correna

    • Thanks Correna! This is really great – thanks for the resources! These are all really good ideas. My current plan calls for timed runs during the week and distance runs on the weekend, and it increases both each week, which I’ve just learned from the article might not be the best idea for me. I’ll be making some changes to add lower volume weeks. and you’re right, sometimes it’s better to stop watching the clock and just enjoy the run! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s