I’m in my slow season right now, which is good and bad. On the one hand, I get to run less and I get to run for fun. I have more time on my hands. I’m more relaxed. It’s definitely a good thing! But… on the other hand, I’m working incredibly hard behind the scenes to stay on top of what’s next. Spring training is just around the corner which means I’ll have an influx of training plans to write. I’m also working on a big project that I hope sees the light of day come spring. If it doesn’t, it’ll be back to the drawing board, but I’m hoping with some finessing and real dedication, I can make this thing take off.
How This Coach Writes Training Plans
One of the things I like to do during the slow season, as I alluded to above, is to flush out training plans. Every client that hires me for an individual race and personalized training gets a 100% personalized training plan. What does that mean for me? It means we talk over their goals, I look at their past training and recent running, and then I go from there.
The Building Blocks of Training Plans
I build personalized plans from the ground up. How does that work exactly? After we figure out goals and goal races, I draft a rough outline — a backbone of sorts. I learned this trick from my coach who also happens to be my mentor. It’s quite useful. I plug in long runs, weekly totals, and then fill in the blanks. And I do it old school — I write everything down on a paper calendar. Call me crazy but it’s what works for me! After I’ve gotten everything how it should be in a “perfect” world, I start creating the calendar on a training platform.
This is a very broad idea of how I go about building plans for clients, and things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes this idea doesn’t even work at all! It’s all about flexibility. Since flexibility is so important in both creating (coach) and executing (runner) training plans, I usually don’t give clients more than two weeks of training at a time. And sometimes only one week. From the planning perspective, it sure is useful to know how many miles you’ll be running four weeks into a training plan. But logistically and realistically speaking, it’s better to build a fluid plan to adjust for things like illness, vacations, or — god forbid — injury.
With a fluid plan, I can actively gauge how my athlete is doing as the weeks tick by and I can adjust workouts as necessary. There have been some times that one of my girls nailed every single workout and I needed to give her more challenging things to work on, and yet another time when someone was truly struggling and we had to back off quite a bit.
Your Plan is For You
There’s a lot that goes into creating a training plan. I know it doesn’t seem like it when you receive said plan as the athlete, but if you’re using a coach, please know how much care they put into your personalized plan. Time, effort, and real planning goes into these things. Coaches take into account your personal goals, your past experiences, and even your personality and how well you’ll do with certain workouts. It’s not just a copy/paste kind of deal.
I should also mention that you shouldn’t use someone else’s plan. Each person’s plan is written for them — for their capabilities, for their aspirations as a runner, and for their speed and strength. As a coach I can’t, in good conscience, recommend following someone else’s plan at all — but if you’re going to, make sure you’re trained up to the same distance as your friend and only use their mileage as a base, definitely not their speed work. You could end up injuring yourself if you attempt to do someone else’s speed workout or long run, and vice versa.
You Should Hire a Coach
It took me becoming a coach to see the value in having a coach myself. So I totally get it if you don’t dig the idea of having a running coach. But we’re incredibly awesome people (I swear, just ask anyone!) and we’re there to help you succeed. Almost every coach I know also has a coach themselves. There’s real value there, I promise.
Speaking of coaches… I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my coach and mentor, Coach Mark. He’s been such an inspiration and it’s been incredible to learn from him.
So what the heck are you waiting for? Go find your coach!
TALK TO ME!
Have you ever written your own plan, coach or not? Were you happy with the outcome?
Coaches, do you write plans all at once or little by little over time?