The Importance of A Training Schedule

| January 1, 2012

By Joella Baker (Newsletter 1/29/2012)

It doesn’t matter if you’re training for a 5K, a marathon, a Sprint Triathlon or an Ironman, if you plan to be successful, it’s important to follow a training plan. Whether you follow a plan online, choose a Hal Higdon plan, a Tri Newbie plan or you simply follow your fellow Dawn Crackers, find a plan and stick with it as much as you can.

Remember, running a marathon or completing your first triathlon can be a very rewarding experience. However, one of the most important factors to ensuring that you run your best possible race is making sure you set up a quality schedule.

Preparing for a big race like a marathon or triathlon takes a lot of time and dedication so it is best to start planning about a year in advance. If this is your first marathon or triathlon, the planning will include mentally preparing yourself, focusing on a nutrition plan, building up support from friends and family, and most importantly finding a training schedule that will work for you.

Let’s focus on the marathon. Most marathon training schedules require around eighteen weeks in order to be fully prepared. You should have already built up to a six mile run before training for a marathon. I require my marathoners to start with a 10 mile run at the beginning of their training. Once you establish a base mileage, having a marathon training schedule that allows you to slowly build up your endurance will give your body time to adapt and adjust at a comfortable pace.

If you’re planning to compete in a triathlon this summer, starting your training now is essential. Getting comfortable in the swimming pool and on the bike is just as important as running. More importantly, already starting bricks (putting two disciplines together) is what will have you ready when Spring and Summer training kicks into full gear.

As you train for your race, remember that every training program relies on one thing, honesty from the athlete. Just because the plan tells you to do something doesn’t mean it’s written in stone. It’s still up to you to listen to your body and to adjust accordingly. If you happen to be sick, your body is just tired or something hurts in a way that isn’t just from normal training, then you need to be smart enough to rest and recover. However, it’s extremely important that when you take a few days off, you don’t try and make those days up in any training plan. Nothing is worse than trying to make up a workout. If you miss a workout, that workout is gone. Simply start with the next day and move past the workouts you missed. I find this to be the hardest thing for most “Type A” personality athletes. For some reason, you all get caught up in what you’ve missed instead of focusing on what’s ahead. My best advice, forget the past.

In addition to listening to your body when you need days off, following a recovery week and actually letting your body recover those weeks is also very important. Too many people don’t slow down enough during a recovery week. Each recovery week can be a little different based on where you are in your training. If you’re training for a marathon, you’ll see mileage cut down, intensity cut down and a week to simply relax a little more. Take advantage of it.

If you’re a triathlete, you may still see some tough swim workouts, even in a recovery week. Again, it depends on where you are in your training and what you’re training for, but swimming is the one sport you don’t need to recover as much from when training for a triathlon. In fact, in many training plans, you may see your day off or easy day as still being an easy swimming day.

Aside from recovery, cross training, specifically for marathoners, is extremely important. Most marathoners get caught up in running too many miles throughout the week. Finding various forms of cross training that compliment your training program will keep you from getting bored and keep you injury free. Cross training can be swimming, cycling, core and strength, aqua jogging, the elliptical machine, stair master or various fitness classes like yoga, pilates, kick boxing and more.

Again, it’s just important to have a plan moving forward, and the best plan to look for is a training program that incorporates cross training, recovery, a slow increase in mileage, speed work, strength work, and hills. This is required for both a running and triathlon training plan. Therefore, as you look at a training plan, choose wisely. Choose a plan that fits your lifestyle and one that you can follow.

Have fun and stick to whatever plan you choose.

Category: Archive, Training

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