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What’s Your Favorite Training Plan?

Hmmmm, what's the best training plan for marathon #7?

Let me start with some news, and a little experiment: I’m running the Portland Marathon this fall.

It’ll be my seventh marathon so what’s the scientific undertaking? To determine if my husband, Jack, reads our blog, which I strongly suspect he doesn’t. I have yet to tell Jack about my Portland plans—and we’ll know soon whether he’s still unaware or not. I am hesitant because I feel guilty lumping three more months of my marathon training on him. Him having to take care of kids solo on Saturday mornings for hours on end. Me being bone-tired at night. Endless pasta dinners because of my increased carb consumption. Granted, the kids are getting easier to manage, but it’ll be my second marathon in 2010. In a very minor way, it’s like a second tour of duty immediately on the heels of the last one.

But I’ve been dropping hints. Such as openly perusing Pete “Pfitz” Pfitzinger’s book Advanced Marathoning, as I’m debating which training plan to follow. Two good running friends swear up and down by Pfitz’s plan, especially his 18-week one. But when I counted back from October 10 on the calendar, I realized that meant my training should have started, um, last week. I’m excited about another marathon, but not that pumped. I am still eyeballing his 12-week one.

I’m seriously contemplating following the same steps I took to get me ready for Big Sur. I was fortunate enough to have a plan laid out for me by Andrew Kastor, coach of the High Sierra Striders in California (and husband of Olympic bronze medal marathoner Deena Kastor). When Andrew first gave it to me, I felt it was too conservative. After he tweaked it a little, it was darn near perfect. Demanding, yet not overly so. Plus, I figure it had me feeling strong and enthusiastic through all 26.2 (hilly) miles of Big Sur. Yet I am wondering if some new-to-me training plan might work even better. Any suggestions: What’s your fave marathon training program?

And while you’re at it, I’d love to “hear” what are your favorite 5K, 10K, and half-marathon training plans, too. Dimity and I want to have a list of recommended plans “living” on our blog as a resource. We’d greatly appreciate your input. Thanks!

(Oh, and if you see Jack at Fred Meyer or 24Hour Fitness, maybe don’t mention the “M-word” to him…hee, hee.)

Portland, here I come. Oh, wait, it's my hometown marathon!

23 responses to “What’s Your Favorite Training Plan?

  1. YAY! I’ll be there with the twins (if you/they want!) cheering you on! So proud to hear you will do it – I knew you would! Tell Jack I can help with the kids! Go Champy Champy!

  2. I’m still working on it… I ran a marathon in ’05, ’07, got up to the 14 mile training run last summer and got a stress fracture. So, I’m debating the training set up by my MIT group (what I used the last three tries) or a new one…

  3. Portland would be fun…I will start negotiation process after Seattle R and R. I like the programs in “Brain Training for Runners” by Matt Fitzgerald. I usually come up with a hybrid plan that has flexibility built in so I don’t get OCD when I can’t follow the exact plan….

  4. Tom Holland’s Marathon Method took me from occasional runner to marathoner in 16 weeks. I used his beginner plan again for a 2nd full and 3 halfs. I am graduating to the intermediate plan in hopes of BQing in October.

  5. I usually just email the hubby along with a race for him to do….:-)
    Your results with the Kastor plan were so positive, I think I’d stick with it again, tweaking it for speed etc. Good luck…home town races are so much fun….

    …now off to the library to read that plan in Runners world! After i remove the LO from the boob…

  6. Pftiz, definitely. I’ve used several training plans and none have gotten me into the kind of shape Pfitz’s 18 week program did. I’m thinking about trying the 12 week plan for a fall marathon – if I can commit!

  7. Oh man, hilarious about not telling Jack yet. I have to wait for the perfect time to tell my hubby about upcoming races. Like, when he’s had a beer and has had a good day, kids are behaving and maybe I gave him an extra morning off earlier, etc. Of course, I have to have completely mapped out every weekend and if there’s any scheduling conflicts, I have a solution at the ready, free time in his favor. I also try to have a few perks built in for him somewhere along the line. He’s supportive of my running, he really is, but that way, I know I’m good to go!

  8. I haven’t used any other plans other than rookiemarathon.com I started with their full marathon training and then switched to the half since my race plans changed. A friend recommended it for me. I’ll have to let you know after my half what I really think though LOL

  9. Using Hal Higdon training for my first half this September and loving it!
    Adding speed work and tempo runs changes it up a bit.
    Good Luck, Sarah!!

  10. One more thing- for beginning runners, I strongly recommend the Galloway method where you work up to running 9 minutes walking 1 minute. I did this for years – in fact, would probably still be using it if I hadn’t moved (my new running buddies don’t use it and my watch broke so I gave it up).

    Not only does it help mentally with the long runs by breaking them into 10 minute blocks, but it prevents injury. My friend who has always done it says she is faster too – although you are breaking to walk, the breaks allow you to sustain a faster pace for the whole race.

  11. Great news about Portland!! I will be there to cheer you on!
    I have used Hal Higdons marathon plans and they work well for me, room for adjustment and flexability. If you love speedwork, there isn’t much of that in his plans.

  12. I honestly love the run less run faster 3 day a week plan. http://www.furman.edu/first/fmtp.htm You should check out the book. For me as a mother it fit perfectly into myday and I loved that they got very specific on what workouts to do and when and how fast or slow. If I wouldn’t have gotten injured 5 weeks before my marathon I am sure I would have qualified for Boston on this plan. My running partner got her BQ and we trained together and it was her first marathon, but for me slowing down those five weeks didn’t help me get there but I plan on using the program again for another marathon in October. Plus, I have emailed these guys twice with questions and both times they emailed me back very quickly with answers.

    1. Dimity did the Run Less, Run Faster plan for her half marathon in February and it worked well for her. Cool the guys are quick to respond to questions.

  13. I think it’s funny how we get a marathon idea in our heads, then have to side-step up to our spouses and so, “So, ah, whatcha doin?” I did that with my hubby too, but he is supportive of me doing Honolulu in December, so am excited. I have found that my motivation is lacking these days, so am going back to a group experience-which I haven’t done since 2007 for my first marathon with Portland Fit. I’m planning on running Honolulu Marathon with Oregon’s Team in Training chapter. I hate fundraising, but have so good ideas, and lots of support, so think it might be doable. Mostly I’m harassing a good friend into doing it, so I may have a buddy to drive downtown for the Saturday group runs. And the best part is that I don’t have to think about a training program this time. But, I’m definitely going to print the results on this posting out. Will be cheering you on Sarah, hubby and I are registered for the Inaugural Half.

  14. I would be really interested in any recommendations for 5K and 10K plans. I have my first 2 5K’s planned in the next 3 months, but am really hoping to try for a 10K in the fall. Any help would be appreciated!

  15. I too am thinking about a new training plan. So far, I have only trained to finish 1/2 marathons. I started my first by running 3 times a week – two short (3-4 mile) week day runs and then a long run on the weekend. I started the long run at 4 miles and increased it by one mile each week. When you hit 8 miles, the next week you run 4 then 10 then 5, etc so you only have a really long run every two weeks. I just count back the long runs – hoping to hit 12 before the race – to figure out when to start my training. It is a good idea to put in an extra week or two just in case you miss a long run.

    Now I would like a way to work on my speed a bit….but not really excited about the track workouts.

  16. I had success with Bob Glover’s plan which is on the NYRRC website. I used the beginner program for my first marathon in 1999. I bought his book “The Competitive Runners Handbook” for my 9th marathon last December.

  17. I used Hal Higdon’s half marathon beginner for my first half marathon in May and liked it immensely. I’m using his half marathon novice for my second half marathon in September (yikes!). I like that his plans have only 1-2 off days a week, as opposed to RW’s that only have 3 running days. I don’t feel like I’m making any progress toward a goal running less than half time.

  18. Hmmm…I’m banking on the one laid out next to your article in the most recent Runner’s World! The “under 4 hours” one. I hope you like that one, too- great article, too!

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