Finding Progress with Reflection: Reevaluating Training Plans

Pause and reflect.   The last week of May (about 4 months ago), I jumped on board with what  I thought would be my “perfect” training plan.   Filled with renewed excitement and energy to follow a plan, carve out goals and train hard-I mapped out the first 6 weeks of training.  This was around the time that school was winding down and my Redhead’s high school track season was also coming to a close for the season.  April and May had been less than what I had initially planned in terms of my own running, but that was okay because I really hadn’t been training for anything in particular.  I was more focused on cheering on my Redhead and spending my Saturdays as “track mom”!

Ready to Take on a New Training Plan.  The end of May came and summer was around the corner, but I was ready to set some plans in motion for a fall half marathon.  (New Hampshire Sea Coast Half Marathon)  The half marathon is that distance that makes me feel challenged, yet capable of taking on the miles to reach my goals with that distance.  I”m still chasing that sub 1:50 mark.  After some googling and other searching around through social media, including some well known and very informative running blogs, I decided to map out my training based on five to six  days a week of running.  My goals were to solidify a base that I already, pretty much had in place and focus on track/speed workouts and increasing weekly mileage.  I had the first six weeks of this training plan -written out in my Believe Training Journal.  I had even accounted for travel in mid June and getting settled in Maine for the summer.  Each week I was supposed to run five to six days a week, two days of tempo or interval work and a long (double digit) run and the other days -filling up the bank with miles.  

Knowing when to stop, reflect and change course-  By the fourth week of training, I found myself already feeling burned out, left with no energy to get in my long run on the weekend and feeling a bit dejected about the way my training was going, well actually not going anywhere.  It was around the last week of June, home in Maine, that I could feel the “wheels” of this training plan coming loose!  My paces were off,  I wasn’t hitting the numbers and I was starting to cut back on miles with each workout.  I knew I was getting enough rest, hydrating and eating well, but my body still couldn’t keep up.  By the end of week six, I knew it was time to stop and reflect and make changes.  There was plenty of time-November 12th-the New Hampshire SeaCoast Half-was still about five months away.  I crossed out the next two weeks of training that I had already written and my journal and decided to reevaluate my goals for this training cycle and journey to Seacoast Half. 

A new approach to training and quality over quantity-  I was able to look back over the last six weeks written in my journal, notice what was working and what wasn’t and fill in the gaps that were leaving me feeling inadequate as a runner.  Lessons learned-every plan doesn’t fit every runner and I had to build a plan that would meet my needs as a runner and fit my life schedule.  Taking the time to reflect allowed me to refocus and see that progress could still be made, that I was actually still capable of reaching my goals.  I didn’t see this as a step backwards, more of a step forward-growth comes from reflection and finding opportunities to improve.  

Balance and quality – As I looked back on my training, the missing pieces were more time for core and strength training, and still building in one complete rest day.  As I am  getting older,  I am seeing the benefits of classes like barre that focus on core and strength with resistance bands and light weights, as well time for yoga, foam rolling and stretching.  As I mapped out a new training plan,  I made sure to include two key running workouts-tempo runs or hill repeats, along with a long run (10-12 miles) and then two other days of easy running.  

Growth comes from reflection and finding opportunities to improve #training Click To Tweet

Seven Day Week-

  • rest day
  • tempo run/or hill repeats
  • easy miles
  • speed intervals
  • long, double digit run
  • core and strength training
  • Yoga, stretching and foam rolling 

Seeing progress- These changes brought a renewed sense of accomplishment and energy to my weekly training.  I once again, felt capable of getting the workouts done each week and I was seeing my paces strong and in the range I was shooting for based on the workout.  I also felt really good about carving out more time for the core and strength training.  This was a plan that fit my needs as a runner and fit my day-to-life.  Progress comes from knowing when to pause, stop and reflect.  Take the time to acknowledge what is working, but at the same time-be okay with moving on from what is not working.  

Have you ever had to ditch and training plan and start over?  What have you learned from less than great training cycles? 


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