Back in June I wrote a little about how I had altered my training routine following the stress fracture I suffered towards the end of last year. Since then, I have mentioned on and off that I was making some changes, but I’ve never really written specifically about my training plan or reflected on its success. Today, I’m going to do just that.
First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not a qualified trainer or coach, I simply looked at the training I had been doing and made some decisions about what I should do next based on my experiences . What works for me might not suit someone else, and vice versa. I would always recommend chatting to a running coach or personal trainer to help you with an appropriate plan, as it’s important your plan suits you and your life, rather than you trying to shoehorn your life into the plan!
In the past I have always relied on Steve to write all my training plans and I have enjoyed what I have done. Each cycle would be different so my body wouldn’t get too used to the same thing, but there were some things that had become fixed features: 4 runs per week, a PT session and a Metafit class or two. When I had my stress fracture, none of this could happen. I swam more, used the bike at the gym more, and we adapted any PT sessions to focus on my upper body or to have no impact on my foot. Not running was frustrating, but I did enjoy my time in the pool and in the saddle.
Fast forward to February and I had the green light to start running again…sort of. My podiatrist recommended a VERY strict programme of run/walk intervals which would take me 10 sessions before I was running for 30 minutes straight. I was also only allowed to run 3 times per week rather than my usual 4. This worked for me and I continued to gradually rebuild my mileage alongside some cross training to boost my fitness ahead of the Paris marathon, which although not the race I had originally intended to have, was still a brilliant experience and taught me a lot about pacing and enjoying the journey.
It was once I made the decision to (secretly) sign up for the Loch Ness marathon that I realised the structure of my week was going to need some attention. I felt there was a pattern of injury which suggested that too much high impact work during the week (running, Metafit, drills) just didn’t suit me. I also knew that I tended to run my long runs too fast, meaning there wasn’t sufficient difference between that run and my run during the week. I figured that could be streamlined more to maximise my fitness and to give a real focus to every workout. I also wanted to build in more rest and (active) recovery, as well as minimising long midweek workouts during term time.
After a bit of back and forth with Steve trying to work out the best pattern, I settled on:
Monday – swim
Tuesday – tempo run (between 5k and 10k, averaging about 4-5 miles)
Wednesday – interval workout on the bike
Thursday – run-specific PT session followed by Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun (basically a speed workout) followed by Hatha yoga
Sunday – long slow run
And for the most part, this worked for me. I felt I was fit, but without lots of high impact workouts all the time. The fact that I got my parkrun time right down close to what I previously thought was a “rogue” and unattainable PB was testament to that fitness. The bike intervals were developed each week so that overall I increased the resistance and the number of reps. This added to my fitness, made my legs feel strong and helped to keep my legs turning over at a higher cadence, all without any impact. Swimming gave me some active recovery the day after my long run and my flexibility definitely improved thanks to yoga. That flexibility also highlighted a weakness which I need to address, and which ultimately meant I did not run my race, but I’m looking on that as a positive thing since part of the idea behind training for an autumn marathon was to make my body stronger for my spring marathon training. Addressing the issue now should hopefully mean that I at least achieve the goal of being stronger in the spring. I may be short of one marathon medal, but I’m still pleased with how my training went and take solace in the fact that I didn’t get “injured” in the sense of doing any damage to my body, I simply discovered a weakness to work on.
Finding the ideal training plan is tough. You never know what obstacles life will throw in your way, nor can you really know how your body will respond to the demands of the programme. I think everything I did was right, I just missed out a bit more core strength work to complement what I was doing. With that in mind, I can now make some tweaks to my plan as I move forward.
Right now, my training is a little lower key. Allowing some recovery time after a training cycle is important, and realistically I was “only” 26.2 miles short of completing my plan. I took a full week off training in the week after our trip to Loch Ness, then followed that with a week of light cross training, as per the recovery plan I know works for me. Now, I’m using my school holiday to get back into the swing of training, but without any particular pressure or demand on what I’m doing. I’m gradually reintroducing running alongside continued work to strengthen my hip. I’m swimming, using the bike, going to yoga and walking lots.
And alongside all of that, I’m working on my new training plan. Aside from the workouts I do each day, I also have to look at WHEN I do those workouts as the structure to our school day has changed and now my daily routine feels a little bit different. After one term of working within that new structure, I now have a better idea of the time I have available each day and have been looking at how I can maximise that as well as ensuring I have enough “down time” to allow me to rest and recover. I have some ideas, so just need to put the finishing touches to the plan and see how that pattern works in the term up to the end of the year. Watch this space…!
How do you construct your training plans?
What are the key workouts you include in each training cycle?