Why Following a Training Plan is Overrated

half marathon

I think I’m going to start telling people I’m running a 23 yard race.

A few weeks ago, I had a grandiose plan for my next half marathon. I decided I would train for it properly. Yes, I was going to really commit. I was going to download a training plan, and I was going to do all the runs exactly as prescribed. And, I was going to get a PB in my upcoming race on September 6.

So far, I have failed miserably at this goal. I tried to find a reasonable 8 week training plan online and was disappointed that even plans for beginners basically have you running 4 times a week and cross training every other day. That kind of commitment is daunting and unreasonable (in my opinion). And most plans are 12 weeks or more. I don’t have that kind of time.

I finally found a plan that looked semi-realistic and instead of following it, I just did my own miscellaneous runs and exercise that comprised of random 3.5K runs to work and back, spinning, some weights and even though the plan called for a 10K run this past weekend, I decided to run 12K. I basically didn’t follow one single workout of the first week of the plan.

I don’t like being held to the rigid schedule of the training plan. I completely recognize that following it likely would result in a PB in my upcoming race, but I actually don’t care that much. Sticking that training plan to the fridge made it feel like a to-do list. It suddenly became this overwhelming, sigh-inducing chore. Where’s the fun in that?!

I have decided that following a specific plan is overrated. Sure, it may have been created by a professional, but it takes the fun out of training! Training plans are great for guidance and helpful for new runners or runners with specific goals. But when you’ve run many races, and you’re running for fun, you know what to do. I say stick with what works for you.

I’ll work out and cross train throughout the week, and I’ll continually increase my distance week over week getting up to 18-20K the week before the race. I have done this several times before, and it works perfectly fine.

If I want to blow off a workout to enjoy a glass of wine after work, I am going to do it. I’ll make it up some other time. Life is a lot more fun this way.

Do you follow a training plan? What works for you?

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  1. The Freckled Runner July 23, 2015 / 4:29 pm

    I blow off workouts and follow a training plan 🙂 It works for me because if I didn’t have at least something to follow, I would have no idea what I was doing training wise!

    • Miranda July 23, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      Hahaha very true. It’s nice to use as a guide, but good to have some flexibility in there too. I think a lot of the training plans online are overly intense. It’s probably what scares people from signing up in the first place! It doesn’t have to be THAT scary!

      • The Freckled Runner July 23, 2015 / 4:32 pm

        Absolutely agree!! That’s why I like to follow a plan but def tweak it as I go because I’m with you 100% with it making it seem like a to-do-list!

  2. Kathy July 23, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    I’ve never followed a training plan! Every time I go out for a run, I don’t really plan if it will be a 5km or 10km, I make it up as I go depending how I feel. Why force a miserable 10km with hills if you aren’t feeling it? Sometimes my best runs have been on rainy days when I wasn’t even planning to do a long run, but it just felt right that day. That is the joy of running – those days you feel on top of the world, strong and healthy!

    • Miranda July 24, 2015 / 4:17 am

      That’s the way to do it! I love those times when you start out feeling unmotivated and then totally get into it, and end up running way farther or faster than you anticipated. Such a good feeling 🙂

  3. afastpacedlife July 23, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    I’m training for a marathon, so for the second time in my life, I’m following a plan. Last spring I tried to follow a plan for a half and I quit following it after six weeks. Following plans are hard and stressful. I had fun just doing my own thing and I found something that worked for me before this year where I decided I should see what happens if I follow a plan.

    • Miranda July 24, 2015 / 4:18 am

      I followed a plan for my first full marathon. It was helpful, because it helped me feel prepared. But once you’ve done the distance a few times, I feel like you can just have fun with it. When is your marathon?

  4. April Cunningham July 28, 2015 / 11:01 am

    I’m having a horrible time following my training plan for my fifth half-marathon. I’m hoping my weekly long runs will be enough to get me to the finish line.

  5. Geoffrey McCann March 23, 2021 / 10:44 pm

    100% I’ve followed training plans some times they work sometimes not. Life doesn’t always go to plan so I always question how can you make a training plan work. No one ever adds in mental training in any plans but that’s as much as the physical.

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