Training for a Challenge
To run any race, you can always benefit from have a plan. Heck, for almost anything in life, you can benefit from having a plan. Well, unless you want to plan to not have a plan, but then you're just confusing us all. With that plan, you need to have a goal. Is it your first time running the distance (or at all) and your goal is to just finish upright? Are you looking to improve your time and be faster? Do you have a specific time you want to beat? These are important questions to have answers for if you want to make the right plan.
Next you need someone who knows something. I am not that person. I have ideas, but I have no actually training in creating training plans or coaching. I'll be happy to give advice, but a certified coach I am not. I personally love the Jeff Galloway plans that he puts together for free for runDisney races. You can check out the training section for the runDisney web site for plans for all of their distances and challenges. They'll even combine with your level of experience and those goals we talked about (finish upright, run faster). These are general plans, much like you'll find around the internet for free and for a price. If you have a specific goal time or more specialized needs regarding health or super crazy schedules, you'll likely benefit from more personalized plan from a trainer / coach. Jeff Galloway also does them through his site where you can get some e-coaching or I have a large number of blogger friends who are also certified that I am sure would be more than happy to help create a personalized plan. You can also go the full on group training route and not just a plan with a trainer or with a group. A local running stores, such as my local Potomac River Running, are often a good place to start as they often offer training courses that will give you people to run with training for the same distance.
Now you have a plan, but you need to do one last thing with the plan: look at the race. What kind of course is it? Are there a lot of hills? Is there a really challenging part during the race? If there is an early or late hill, you'll want to try and have your long runs mimic this. If there are a lot of hills, you just better be ready to train on as many as you can get. Heck, even if it's flat, training on a lot of hills will help you.
You mentioned a challenge back there in the title?
Ok, so far all my training plan talk has been more about a plan in general and not for a challenge. I did this because the same rules apply, but the plan and runs need to reflect the extra portion of your challenge. Are there back-to-back days of running? Are there days where there are multiple races? Are you crazy like me and have both in one challenge? If you answered yes to any of these, you need to face the music that your training will require nothing less than the same. I'm training for the Runners World Hat trick. That means I'll be running a 5K and a 10K both on Saturday only to follow it up with a half marathon on Sunday. This will be no easy feat, but that's why I'm training for it.
Glass Slipper Challenge plan as my base. This plan is based on Jeff Galloway's basic principle that most weeks, it requires two maintenance runs during the week that are nothing more than 30-45 minutes, whatever distance you get. They're meant to keep you out there running (he said typing at 11pm realizing he missed his for the day). Then the plan includes a long run, that generally alternates growing distance every other week with a shorter run. This is generally done on the weekend, but you actually do what is best for your schedule. The only difference is with the Glass Slipper Challenge plan, it includes some later weekends with back-to-back days of running, to mimic the extra day of the challenge. The Glass Slipper Challenge is for a 10K followed by a half the next, which is almost what I need. I simply made a modification to the plan that when I do back-to-back days, I also add a relatively sized run to be paired with the first day of the runs. This will help me mimic the 5K and 10K on the same day.
I am currently in week 8 of my training. This will be my first week with two runs on the weekend. This will be hot on the heals of my 9 mile run this weekend I had at Myrtle Beach. That went quite well and I enjoyed running a lot at the beach, despite the heat. I ran early to avoid the most of it. And for water, I was able to refill at a Starbucks, so it wasn't all bad. I do need to invest in a better hydration solution, so Orange Mud, here I come. Two of my running friends, Jeremy and Smitha, are both ambassadors and both love theirs. I just need to get to the local store that has them so I can try them on to find out the model I want.
I wanted to share with you my plan for taking on the Runners World Hat Trick, mostly because I like to share my experiences here on the blog. That way, you can learn from my successes and failures. But also, I'm sharing so that you can help keep me honest. The best plan in the world won't help me succeed if I don't stick to it, so if you see me slacking, please call me out on it. I'll appreciate it, even if I mutter a bit about it.
Have you ever run a challenge? How did you train for it? What do you do for training plans?