Believe it or not, I had written a training program before I ever started a blog. I started toying with the idea of completing an olympic triathlon when my cousin completed one and really inspired me. He was in fact super fit but also busy and had a medical issue that might have held him back. Weirdly when I saw his tourtured looking photos on Facebook running in the rain in a silly outfit I thought, “maybe I would like to do that too.”
I knew that I would need a training plan to train for an olympic because where would one even start? When I went looking the plans were absolutely freaking insane with two workouts a day several days a week. I immediately thought “I don’t want to win the thing I just want to live till the end!” So I started researching and making myself a plan that would work for me.
Then when talking to my fitness friends they shared that they would like to do it too and I started sharing!
Do you need a plan?
You really might. If you’re stepping up to a distance over 5k I would say it’s a good idea for your first race at that distance, even the first time you run a 10k it can be a good idea. Past a 10k you are going to need some soft of plan just to keep you on track and organized.
For more complicated sports like any sort of triathlon you’ll probably need a plan. Keeping three sports balanced overall and focusing on one from week to week is a lot and most people won’t be able to just wing it as they go along.
If you have a lot of experience with a certain sport or distance you might be able to pick a decent plan from the google image results for you. If you’re looking for a plan from another source be sure to read the outline or training philosophy from the author. You should be able to get a good read on what that one will be all about. If you’re shopping for something you have to pay for don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Not just a table of workouts
You can get a plan for any event for free on google images. Literally everything from a 5k to an Ironman. At some stage in your racing journey that might even work great for you. That’s actually what I used for my marathon training last year which you can check out here. Well sort of, it was a plan I knew would work well for me based on my previous experience. It also had a well developed blog post that went along with it so it wasn’t really JUST a table.
When you are starting out with racing, stepping up to longer distances or switching sports I would argue you need more than just a table. Here’s why. The first time I did a half I used a plan in the old Nike app that was basically just a table in a phone.
It was nice to get a list of workouts but it wasn’t nearly enough. I didn’t know why I was doing that thing, I was full of other questions and anxiety and up late way too late many nights trying to find one nugget of information. I’d usually end up finding it eventually on some other running blog or deep in a scientific study but it would have been great to have that all in one place.
My plans will always be something else besides just a table. There is a table that’s 2-3 pages but there’s another 20 pages full of all the other stuff you really want to know. That extra information will help you answer questions like:
- Do I really need to buy this?
- Which workout can I skip if I need to?
- Why am I running hill repeats?
- Am I headed for injury?
- Am I doing this safely?
- What is race day going to be like?
Realistic for people with lives
Most of the people participating in racing events have whole lives outside of training for their race. For most of us our jobs and family really do come first and while our fitness challenges are important to us they have to be able to fit into everything else.
Two a day workouts, multiple hours long workouts a week and lots of expensive equipment or classes just aren’t realistic for most athletes out there. Those things are for professionals not weekend warriors. If you’re in a position to devote all of your time and money for months to your race then that’s great but the majority of athletes at any event aren’t able to make their sport their job.
I design plans for athletes that start with this in mind. I think we would all like to win on race day but most of us know that finishing the challenge is really what we are in it for. I do my very best to find that delicate balance between getting prepared for race day and respecting the rest of your free time.
Discuss the budget
There’s roughly three categories of fitness products out there. The first is stuff that you really do need to do a certain sport, the next are a whole host of things that can totally be beneficial but really aren’t necessary. The last category is just more expensive stuff that you can totally skip unless something really speaks to you. For example if you’re a runner you really do need shoes and a water bottle and it is really, really nice to have a fitness tracker but it’s not totally necessary. As a runner carbon fiber plated shoes and massage guns are expensive extras almost all of us can skip.
That said, training for and participating in a race does cost money and for certain races like triathlons those necessities can start to add up. My plans always have a section laying out the gear you’ll actually need and some options to make your training a little more enjoyable. I also point out places to look for fitness gear where you can get a deal.
In general I advocate for starting out in a sport with a bare bones approach. Once you give it a try you can decide if it’s something you are likely to stick with for a few years. If it turns out to be a passion of yours then start to invest in gear and maybe even buy yourself a little speed. Truthfully if you have a god given talent and potential to be an elite in your sport that potential will come out before you spend thousands on gear.
Focused on injury prevention
Just like you can drown in the shallow end of the pool you can get injured running any distance and training for any race. The possibility becomes somewhat more real at 10k and a very real possibility at the half marathon distance. Most injuries are caused by overuse so the longer the distance, the more likely you are to overuse a joint and end up in pain.
I firmly believe that any training plan should talk about the possibility of getting injured. Mine include what to look out for and how to handle an injury that pops up at the very first sign. As disappointing as it can be, I know all about it, the best option can be to defer your race for a year. Any plan that doesn’t talk about the possibility of getting injured is irresponsible in my opinion.
Aim to provide all the information you want to google
If you are towards the start of your running journey a chart only plan will have you up late googling all sorts of information you feel like you are missing. Guess what an important part of training and injury prevention is? A good night’s sleep! It’s also totally normal to have a couple of freak outs along the way the first time. Then you start to spiral on the internet thinking the next link will have all the answers. You look up and it’s suddenly 2 am the day before your weekly long run. I try to include as much of that information as possible to avoid exactly these moments!
I do my best to include things like training reasons, workout descriptions, dealing with anxiety and how to prepare for race day in all of my plans. If anything I add more than is probably necessary but everyone isn’t going to want the same things right? As such even the most seasoned athlete is likely to find a gem or two along the way. That’s how they get to 20+ pages after all!
How to get one
If you’re interested in a running or triathlon plan like this you can download them here on Etsy. I really do try to find that delicate balance between getting you totally prepared and finding a way to fit training into the rest of your life. I’ve honed them over the years and I stand behind them 100%. If you have any questions feel free to reach out for more information.
What do you look for in a perfect training plan? Have you ever used one that left you missing something on race day? Leave it in the comments below!
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