Coach Mike Mead

December 2008

New Year's Training Plans

The year is quickly winding down and perhaps this is a good time to re-evaluate your running plans regarding training and racing. At this time of the year, most runners have gotten in that marathon, or key late-season race. For high school and college runners, the cross country season closed out some time in November and now is the time to begin prepping for track season.

Whatever level of runner, you should take some time to review your training plans and perhaps make some changes as you set your sights for your racing phases in the coming New Year. Did you adequately train? Did you run the mileage and long runs you needed to run well in that 10K or marathon you were gunning for a PR?

As I have mentioned in previous columns, I highly recommend for runners to keep a training log or diary. This way when you raise questions about your training, you can simply look back over your logs to see what you did and give yourself an idea where you can make some improvements. If you have a coach or training partner, have them take a look at your training logs and ask them to give you some constructive criticism. The key when seeking outside advice is that you need to be open to suggestions that will help you get better.

The most important part of your training schedule needs to factor in the races you are planning to run your best. So first, pick out the two or three BIG races you intend to run in the next 12 months, then back up to build your training schedule. If you are planning to run a November marathon, then you have plenty of time to build your training plan to have you ready to go after your goal for that race.

The key is you need to have a plan or outline to follow. I find many runners you do not follow a plan and pretty much are racing more than they need to. It’s one thing to race for the fun of it, but if you truly want to do your best and see significant improvement, you need to have a training plan and stick to it.

With that said, you also have to be flexible for the inevitable injury or illness that will interfere with your training schedule. If you take some time off and return to a training plan, you must remember to gradually come back. Do not take a week or two off and expect to resume your training at full-tilt, otherwise you will get injured. Also, the next three or four months are ripe for getting ill from the flu or cold.

Another training tip is to consider adding core or weight training to your regiment. I also recommend doing form drills and agility drills once a week to make you a more efficient and stronger runner. These workouts will also help cut down on injuries, too. Hill repeats early in your training will help make you strong and are a good way to transition into speed training.

As part of your training plans, you want to wisely plan your speed training phase before the big races. Remember, speed kills. If you do too much speed training, you’ll kill yourself and your ability to race at your best.

Lastly, it is important to identify your running and racing weaknesses and try to work on improving these deficiencies. The most common mistake a runner makes when it comes to racing is going out too fast at the beginning and paying for it later. You want to model your training so that your racing will benefit.

If you spend some time now mapping out your training and racing plans during the upcoming year, barring any serious injuries you should have a successful and rewarding year with your running. It’s all about preparation and follow-through.

Train smart and good luck in the New Year!