As a woman relatively new to running, I often find myself comparing my progress to others. I see other people flying down the road with ease, and the voice in my head tells me I should be able to run faster, go longer, and tackle serious mileage each week. When my legs get tired or I’m out of breath, I get frustrated because I expect my body to be able to do exactly what I want it to do. The problem is, I think my body is smarter than I am. When I increase my mileage too quickly, and my legs are aching and flimsy, my body is telling me to slow it down (and/or do more strength training). I need to be able to recognize the difference between when I need to push through, and when I seriously need to pull back.
This is especially true for my half-marathon training plan. I ended up changing to a new one because the original one increased my mileage too quickly. While it would have been perfect for me this past summer when I was running 6 miles at a clip, I had to admit to myself that I was biting off too much at once. After taking a couple months off this fall, I needed a plan to go off of that eased back into the heavier mileage totals. This is one that I switched to:
This is actually a training plan a friend recommended I look into, and I feel it is a better fit for me. Unlike my previous program, the Prevea schedule is a little longer and more gradual in terms of mileage increases. I believe it was actually developed for people planning to race in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this May. They have other schedules to refer to if you’re interested, and can be found on the race’s website.
What I’ve found since starting to train for the half-marathon is that many of these training programs claim to be designed for “beginners,” but then have you running a 5 mile day the first week. I believe the term “beginner” is completely relative. You might be a beginner in terms of never having raced before, but still able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat. Or you may be a beginner who has never broken into a jog a day in your life. Either way, you need to find a program that fits your fitness level. In my case, I wasn’t new to running, but I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles consistently in the last 3-4 months.
If you’re starting a program, don’t just pick a program and go with it. Take into serious consideration your goals, and be realistic. Also, be willing to stray from the program or modify it to fit your needs. There might be a day when running 10 miles just isn’t going to happen. Maybe your body needs to rest. Maybe you’re just not into it that day. If you can’t make the full 10, split up your run by doing 5 in the morning and 5 later in the day. Just give it your best, but remember that your best will change from day to day.
Be mindful of where you are in your training, listen to your body, and make adjustments accordingly. Know when to push yourself harder, and when to ease up. Find a balance.
Have you used a training schedule to prepare for a race or goal? Did you have to make adjustments to your training? I’d love to hear from you!