Move It Monday: Am I Crazy?

by tinareale on March 12, 2012

As each week passes, I feel more and more excited about the upcoming marathon. I really do love running and have had solid training so far. Before choosing a marathon and a plan, I spent a good bit of time researching. I read  a few running books  – Hal Higdon’s Marathon, Jack Daniels’ Running Formula, and even Steve Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning – to get an idea of the logic behind training plans. Note: I had NO intention of following an advanced plan, just like learning about the logistics of different types of runs and their purposes.

Eventually, I settled on the intermediate Hal Higdon plan, as his plans are generally recommended for first time marathoners. However, I have struggled that it may not be the very best fit for me.

I missed having runs with more purpose and felt like I was running just to tally up miles. I could feel running 5 days a week beginning to wear on me and I missed other forms of cross training. So, I went back and re-read and re-studied another book I had looked at when deciding to run a marathon.

The Run Less Run Faster (aka FIRST approach) book has training plans focusing on three key runs a week, then rounding out the training with quality cross training instead of, what the authors call, “junk miles”. I had been feeling like a lot of my runs were turning into “junk miles”. The two longer runs on the weekends were wearing on me. The Higdon plan felt like a GREAT plan, but simply didn’t feel right for me, if that makes sense.

When thinking back to the training that worked well for me in my first half marathons, I realized I had followed a plan similar to the FIRST plan. And really enjoyed it. So…I may be crazy…but I’m adjusting the last 10 weeks of my training plan to the FIRST method, which will leave my week looking like this with 2-3 weight workouts added in through the week.


My plan actually doesn’t look too much different from what I already had scheduled. My long run mileage jives with what I already had scheduled out. The way I can schedule my runs with this plan eerily fits with my favorite cycling classes for cross training and other activities we have going on. It’s basically the same thing I already followed, but with 2 less runs a week.

It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders to make this change. I know many believe the overall mileage during the training isn’t enough to fully prepare for a marathon. I also know friends who have found great success and enjoyment in training following the FIRST method. Perhaps I shouldn’t change plans halfway through and finish what I started? Perhaps its idiotic? I don’t know.

I will do my best to approach it safely. I am using this week as mostly recovery, to prepare for my half marathon this weekend. Then, based on my finish time there, I will use the FIRST plan to train at my current fitness level and not pushing to the set out paces for every workout if my body lets me know differently. I may not max at a 50 mile week, but I feel I have to make this switch. I have no doubt that the Higdon plan is a quality one, as well as many others out there. But I also believe each runner…and each person with a fitness goal…has to find a plan that suits him or her personally. Here’s to trusting my gut….and my legs.

Your Turn…

  • Have you ever adjusted your training halfway through a plan?
  • What training plans do you like? Ever done FIRST?


1 Miz March 12, 2012 at 6:29 am

Im a huuuuuuuuge believer in shifting changing listening to my bod and keeping EVERYTHING FLUID.

2 Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb March 12, 2012 at 6:35 am

I think it’s a great idea. This is my first training plan where I’ve added in more cross-training and my body is thanking me for it. Do what’s best for you and it will all work out!

3 Tessa @ Amazing Asset March 12, 2012 at 6:40 am

I think that it’s fine to do what you need to for your body! 5 days would wear on me too so I can definitely relate to what you are saying here

4 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile March 12, 2012 at 6:51 am

I think you know yourself best, and there is no wrong way to train! Of course I’ve never run a marathon, but I followed a three day a week training plan for my half and I loved it. I feel like if I ran any longer than that I would get burned out and not enjoy running as much. I know you will still do awesome!!

5 sarah (the SHU box) March 12, 2012 at 6:55 am

i ran my PR marathon on FIRST! well, it was modified FIRST — i think i ran 4 days/week with a really easy run subbed in for an XT day and i think i did the elliptical another day. the workouts really emphasize quality over quantity. i would definitely follow it again. bonus: i didn’t get injured (i have gotten bad tendonitis issues from following Pfitzinger and Daniels before).

the Pfitz 70 plan made me faster but i never made it to the finish line, and i did better on FIRST than i did on Pfitz 55.

ahh i miss marathons!! someday again :)

6 tinareale March 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Ohhh…thank you for the insight of your experience with it, Sarah! That’s really neat to hear.

7 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance March 12, 2012 at 6:55 am

So what if you aren’t exactly doing things “by the book”! Sometimes its best to just listen to your body and do what you feel is right.

When I was training for my first full, I actually got shin splints 3 weeks before and didn’t run AT ALL for nearly a month before the race. On the day of the event, I got up there and ran my little booty off feeling refreshed and energized as ever. You’ll figure it out, Tina!

8 Katie @ Raisins&Apples March 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

I think adapting plans to your neeeds is often what’s needed. I really dislike running on back to back days—even if it’s speed vs. tempo vs. long. A lot of the plans have 4-5 running days, but I prefer 3 :)

9 lindsay March 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

you wanna know something? I did the EXACT thing a few years ago, and it was Hal’s intermediate plan. I had to switch to running 4x a week instead of 5. That one day really helped with recovery and mentally staying with it. Your new plan is GREAT!

10 Em March 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

I only ran twice a week when training for my halves and did other forms of exercise the other days of the week. I was in good shape for the races and didn’t feel the least bit sore afterwards! Good luck! :)

11 Courtney March 12, 2012 at 7:04 am

I think its always important to listen to your body, especially when you are planning for a huge challenge, like a marathon. When I ran one back in 2007, I was in college and literally just tallying up the miles. I wasn’t enjoying it, and ended up having a pretty serious injury after the race from overuse. Good for you for listening to your body and what you want–your new plan sounds great! Even now, I feel like maybe I’m running a little bit too much as I train for some Spring (shorter, 10 mile) races; this plan sounds like a smarter, more well-rounded option :) I might have to pick up this book now!

12 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 12, 2012 at 7:04 am

Good for you for listening to your gut and your body and making the switch. I think you’re doing the right thing!

13 cindy March 12, 2012 at 7:05 am

I swear by the FIRST program. I did Higdon for my first few marathons and always got burnt out. The plan also fits well with teaching classes for me. Now, I try to keep a base long run distance of about 10-12 miles year round so I can pick up a training plan for 10 weeks. I know MY body and injury, fatigue and burn out set in with a longer training program.

14 Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) March 12, 2012 at 7:08 am

I think it’s great that you are changing your plan so that it works better for YOU! Running is such an individual thing, and I’ve changed plans before to fit me better too! It’s crazy NOT to if something isn’t working for you! Plus I’ve got friends who have followed FIRST plans and had amazing results! You will too for sure :)

Have a great week! <3

15 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 12, 2012 at 7:10 am

i think it’s a great choice. you know your body best! and plus….it SHOULD be fun! otherwise what’s the point?

16 Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader March 12, 2012 at 7:11 am

I’ve never read that book, but it’s how I train. I learned how to build a periodization training program like that from an instructor that you may be familiar with given your body building background – his name is Tudor Bompa and he also contributes to Muscle & Fitness magazine. Anyways – in University we just thought Tudor was a crazy fun prof, but later learned his training principals are very much respected by Olympic athletes and body builders – do less, become more. He taught us the hard/easy principals and how rest and recovery actually increases your sport improvement. ( You may really be interested in his book: Theory and Methodization of Training.)

My last half marathon training plan was from the Runner’s World SmartCoach iphone app – I followed it because the training principals behind it were very similar to what I was taught.

17 tinareale March 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thanks for the book rec! I am interested in it. And also thanks for our (brief) chat and the support this morning. I have to look into that too.

18 Heather March 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

Before I got injured last year this was the plan I was going to follow for NYC. I’ve heard such great things about the program!!
Less than 2 months till Cleveland – excited to see you!!

19 Coco March 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

I think it’s a great idea. In my experience, running 5 days a week could spell disaster (=injury). I would encourage you to take a full rest day though, and not squeeze in an extra cross-training day. I know you are going to do great!

20 tinareale March 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I will have one full rest day a week – depending on my schedule it will either be the Friday or Sunday off.

21 Heather @ Better With Veggies March 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

This is a really hard one to answer. I think HH is a good plan for some and the FIRST method has worked well for others. The trick is figuring out which one your body will like and adjusting to fit your running style. I personally rarely write a plan for marathon training that is only 3 days a week. I have looked at those before and I worry they are all quality runs with too little recovery, which I feel many people need. I typically find the sweet spot around 4 days a week, to get a combination of quality, long, and recovery days.

To answer your other question, I rarely write a plan for 12-16 weeks if training at a time – life happens and schedules need to be adjusted.

Wow – that was probably not a helpful answer. :)

22 Megan March 12, 2012 at 7:39 am

Tina – I can relate! Sometimes even getting 3 runs in a week can be hard, I can’t imagine 5! I’ve been wanting to read this book – so now you’ve convinced me to :) I personally think that adding in speed work is key – and not over-taxing your body. The last thing you want is injury, or feeling too tired before the big race! Best of luck to you – I know you’re going to rock it!

23 Alyssa @ fit and fun in third March 12, 2012 at 7:47 am

Tina good for you! I so respect that your so in tune with what your mind and body needs and your trusting your gut to make a change! Your going to do so great as long as you follow that gut feeling, I strongly believe that!!

24 Holly March 12, 2012 at 7:50 am

Hi Tina – I haven’t commented on your blog in a long time, but I have been reading! I just wanted to say that I am going through the same thoughts — I too am following Hal’s intermediate plan for a marathon in June and I am thinking of switching to First. I remember Bobbi at N Her Shoes used that program and had great results. I just am starting to feel burnt out from 5 days of running and 1 cross training day — I miss other forms of exercise! Good luck in whatever you choose.

25 Jen March 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

You’re so smart for tweaking your plan! You know your body best, girl. I’m a low mileage runner and know I run best on 4 days/wk. For marathon training, my peak week is always 37-38mi, which is low, but it gets me to the finish line. You’ll do great! :)

26 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) March 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

I think it’s smart to switch up your plan at anytime if it’s not working for you anymore! I just “quit” the couch to 10k program on the same week I signed up for my first 10k- ha! I found I was stressing over the program and am doing much better running a bit less often, adding is strength (thanks to this awesome bootcamp I’m doing ;) ) and going by my own ‘plan’.

27 Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot March 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

I think you will find this plan to be a welcomed change. I am doing a similar model (although I have never read this book) and find that none of my runs feel like junk miles and I am feeling like a stronger, faster runner than I ever have in my whole life and that is WHILE marathon training…. Who knew that could speed me up?

Someone told me once, you have to find YOUR sweet spot for training. There will be a certain level of mileage that wears on you and a level of mileage that is not quite enough so you have to find that spot right in the middle. Everyone is so different so it’s great there are plenty of options out there for plans! Hopefully this plan is yours!

28 Marcia March 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

I’ve used RLRF for 6 training cycles. It has been VERY good to me as I’m not a high mileage runner and I love me some XT. That said, I tried a Pfitz plan last year and switched back to RLRF mid-cycle. I say go with your gut. Changing now will not hurt you.

29 Lee March 12, 2012 at 8:07 am

I’ve adapted Hal’s plans by ignoring one of the running days. Ha. Worked for me fine though. Well, maybe not fine because I felt like death the last mile of the race. But I still did it and didn’t kill myself with 5 days of running a week.

30 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

I’ve never followed a formal running plan (or run a marathon), but I think it’s smart to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed with ANY plan. You’re going to kill this marathon!!! :)

31 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health March 12, 2012 at 8:25 am

I think it’s great that you’re changing if you aren’t feeling the original plan! 5 days of running would be way too much for me too. I feel like that would just make me completely dread training which is not what you want! I think you’re body is probably going to thank you for not running as much too :) .

32 Lauren March 12, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’m following this plan right now for my first marathon! It’s working great for me, and I love having the tempo, speed, and long runs each week. The tempo & intervals are always different each week, so I never feel bored. The charts in the book are SO great for pacing, so I have an idea about what pace I should run my tempo or intervals in. It gives me a better idea of what I am capable of and a realistic goal for a marathon rather than training at a random goal pace. It’s also great having lots of cross-training (compared to other plans) worked in, and I’m using mostly spinning classes, as well as some core/strength workouts. Good luck on the switch, and I hope you like the plan!

33 Cara March 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

I think this is great! I’m actually cutting back on my runs too, starting this week. I also felt like I was logging runs just to get the miles in, and could feel it wearing on my body. Then I found a training plan through Runner’s World that allows me to run 4 days a week and rest or cross train the rest, it’s perfect!

34 Yellow Haired Girl March 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

I think when your body tells you to mix it up, you should mix it up! Sounds like a plan to me – I’m sure it’ll work out fine for ya! :)

35 Samantha March 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

I think listening to your gut is key. Only you know your body and what you’re capable of. I have NEVER used a formal training plan – ever. And I’ve run 6 half marathons and 3 fulls. I’ve been happy with my results each and every time.

I think once you’ve done it once or twice, you get a great idea of what you can handle and how to accomplish it without having to seek the advice of a professional training plan.

36 Heather (Where's the Beach) March 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

I think it’s smart to change according to what suits you the best. My first half I followed to the letter. After that, I had a better understanding of what I needed for me. I actually used the Smart Coach plan and have really liked it. I typically combine 2 of the short runs into one longer then a speed then long run. Physically, 4-5 days of running just doesn’t work for me no matter how much I might want it to.

37 jobo March 12, 2012 at 9:05 am

I think that’s brilliant and you are focusing on what works for you and not following a plan rigidly to a T just to follow it or because it’s worked for others. 5 runs a week IS a lot!! I think 4 is ideal, for me (but secretly, I love 3 run weeks almost more than 4 sometimes!), but 3 is probably the best approach when you are in marathon training and racking up a lot of miles as you head closer to that race. I think the fact that you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders means this was absolutely right for you!

38 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List March 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

I think do what feels right to you!
(I get to see you in less than a week! Squeee!)

39 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life March 12, 2012 at 9:14 am

I think it is so important to listen to our bodies to prevent over exercise and injuries. We also want to keep our work-outs fun and refreshing, or as less of a chore as possible! I have never ran a full before, but I know when it comes to half marathon training I prefer to run 3 days a week to keep myself from going insane! Any more runs a week would probably cause me to dread them and not have fun with my training!

40 Brandi March 12, 2012 at 9:21 am

I’m actually training for my third half right now and thought I HAD to run 5 times a week to have a good foundation of training before the race. I was feeling myself becoming burnt out by the fourth week and decided to do the same thing; I run 3 times per week as well as 2 sessions of cross training and strength training. I love it! I hope you do too!

41 Kaelin March 12, 2012 at 9:25 am

I just ordered this book! I can’t wait to read it, as I have heard lots of good things about the method. I am not currently training for anything, so it would be nice to free up a couple of days to do more cross training. Good luck!!

42 Ericka @ The Sweet Life March 12, 2012 at 9:25 am

Tina — I am SO glad you posted this. As I anticipate training for Chicago, I was worried about how I was going to mix it with Crossfit. The Higdon plans really do require so much running (and you are right about “just tallying up the miles.”) Until I saw this post, I FORGOT that I actually own this “Run Less, Run Faster” book. My mom got it for me and I never paid attention to it because it was never a problem until now. I’m definitely going to crack it open and figure a good plan I can mix with Crossfit. Thanks!

43 Michelle March 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

I am definitely a fan of FIRST method — and listening to your body. I think I might have skipped maybe 2 runs while training for my marathon because it fit that well into my schedule!

I really think that the goal for a first marathon should be to finish. Sure, have goals – but really just focus on finishing as strongly as you can. A marathon is just so incredibly different than a half. It doesn’t seem like it should be — but it is.

When I run another marathon the only thing I will add to my training plan is a recovery run day. I’ve read a few articles on how important those miles are (2-3 miles is all you need) and how they can make you a stronger runner.

I hope you find a plan that works for you!

44 Amy Lauren March 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

You know, I really do believe that running less can help you be a better runner. One of my friends just ran a half marathon on Saturday and finished in about 2 hours. She was going to the gym sometimes twice a day, her long run got up to 15 miles, she was biking on the side… when I ran mine, I only ran 3 times a week, did cross training but didn’t go to the gym twice a day. She kept complaining that she was sore and couldn’t hardly finish her runs, and I think she was really overtraining. She had knee problems and I wasn’t too surprised when she talked about her “schedule”…

I totally agree with you cutting back on the running! 5 days a week of running is crazy hard on the body. I can barely handle it and I’m not training for a marathon so I’m not really running super long distances. It’s better to do a few less runs than too many and end up getting injured and not being able to do your best, or maybe even do it at all. One of my friends did the run less plan for her second marathon and still did great. It was a lot less taxing on her body, too. She was kinda skeptical at first but it worked out well for her.

45 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 12, 2012 at 10:18 am

I can definitely relate to this. When I trained for the Philly half (my second half marathon) last fall, I only ran 3 times a week. I got tons of comments from people telling me it wasn’t enough running but I just disagreed and knew if I made each run count it would be plenty. And it was, at least plenty enough for a PR :) You’ll do great, I think listening to our bodies and knowing what works for each of us individually is the best thing you can do. At least better than following a plan that doesn’t seem right just b/c everyone else does it.

46 STUFT Mama March 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

I’m glad you adjusted your plan to work for you. I’ve never done an actualy plan from a book, I should try that. I’m so excited for you and your upcoming race. :) It’s hard to balance it all out with work and mom stuff. You’re amazing. :)

47 Kelly March 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

I think getting in other forms of exercise is good for you. Running all the time (even when marathon training) leads to burn out and more injuries in my opinion. I think a more even and balanced approach is best!

48 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed March 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

I follow my body. It keeps me moving and it keeps me safe. It’s good you know this your first mary. I didn’t and suffered some injuries because of it.

49 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning March 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

You’re not crazy at all- I think your training plan looks perfect! Any time I’ve trained for a race, I run every other day. I just find that my body responds better than way, and I’m less likely to get an injury. On the non-running days, I’d usually cycle or rest. The hardest thing for me is working in that recovery/rest time, even though I know how crucial it is. It’s hard for us endorphin junkies to take a rest day! :)

50 Emily S. March 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

I think the FIRST method sounds great. I’m actually just coming back from a stress fracture and my sports doctor recommended that I follow it! She is also a runner and is training for Boston using this method and she swears by it – she recently shaved 6 minutes off of her half PR. I think it’s smart to listen to your body and do what works best for you!

51 Rachel @RunningRachel March 12, 2012 at 10:33 am

I am a firm believer of listening to your body!! I trained for my first half using Hal’s training plan… it worked for me, but it got to the point where I did feel like I was running lots of “junk” miles. Which didn’t really bother me much since I didn’t have kids at the time. But now… running is time away from my family and if I can do it more effectively less often… I am game.

52 Mary @ Bites and Bliss March 12, 2012 at 11:06 am

I’m really into running distanced rather than speed just cause it allows me time to adjust into a gait and “get lost” in running..but it is SO much more of a workout to do tempo runs!

53 misszippy March 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

I think this was a great move. We always have to keep in mind that we do this for fun, and so when a schedule isn’t working for us, it’s best to find one that does. Good luck with it!

54 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt March 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

Well after only doing Boot Camp for a week and feeling/noticing a change I’m realizing how important it is to change things up a bit in the workout department!

55 Meagan March 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

I had this exact same epiphany about 6 weeks ago! I was used to running 3x a week for a total of 25-30 miles a week and then after signing up for my first half marathon I started following Hal’s intermediate plan. Like you, I hated running multiple days in a row and I could feel how dead my legs were and my paces were massively slowing down. I read Run Less Run Faster and switched to the FIRST method and now my runs are great again! Goodluck I know you’ll love the new plan!

56 Lauren @ Starting With The Bar March 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

I’m forever adjusting my schedule. I think it’s important to react to training appropriately. The mindset of “I can’t change, I’m XX weeks into this plan” is asinine, imho. Leads to burnout- overtraining- and generally an overall miserable endurance experience.

You’ve got a lot of knowledge in your vault – use it to tweak things to be

57 Jordan W. March 12, 2012 at 11:32 am

I’m so happy that you posted this today. I used the Hal Higdon intermediate plan for my half this weekend. Before setting up the plan, I was running 3x a week (4 max) and somehow managed to follow the plan with 5 days of running right up until the last two weeks when I started to feel extremely fatigued from running all the time! I actually felt OVERtrained which led to serious frustrations and poor performances. Even though the plan was not a good fit for me, I thought it was a great learning experience since I’m running my first full in the fall (Chicago). I’m looking forward to reading Run Less Run Faster – thank you so much – this is exactly what I needed right now!

P.S – you’re not crazy!

58 Amanda - RunToTheFinish March 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

i was totally excited for my first so i think that is completely normal..then again runners are kinda crazy :)

since i have no option but to cut back i’m really interested in that book, i’ve seen it for years but at the time it wasn’t right for me

59 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy March 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hey — I don’t think you’re THAT crazy ;) … if you were a brand new runner and didn’t have any idea what running a race was like, I might have a different take on this, but you’re knowledgeable AND experienced so I think you’ll be good to go.

I’ve never tried FIRST. To be honest, I never tried a training plan…and add that to the list of reasons why I’m injured right now, maybe?

I did loosely follow the plan from Fitness Magazine — — for the long run distances, mostly — when I ran a half last fall!

60 Jess March 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

SO smart of you, Tina. I always am so surprised to see so many training plans that suggest five runs per week for half and full training. I do no more than 4 runs per week and even that seems like a lot the deeper into the longer mileage days you get. So I’m totally with you – your style of training is SO spot-on with mine. Right now, the 4x per week is working well for me but I have a feeling once I’m into full training, I’ll be paring back many weeks to three runs per week with cross training in between. REALLY smart move Tina, truly. You’re going to go into this race feeling strong and confident and ready — no junk miles needed!!

61 Jess @ Blonde Ponytail March 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I used this plan for my 2nd marathon–Its tough but every run has a purpose which I love. If and when I sign up for another full I will use it again, b/c now I’m incorporating xtraining into my fitness where I wasn’t b4 crazy! I think its the perfect plan for fitness professional like you and me! :)

62 Khushboo March 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ plan so I think it’s great you went with your gut! Work your plan around your life rather than vice versa! The 3 runs per week each sound like quality workoutscwhich will benefit your overall training! Quality trumps quantity…ALWAYS!

63 Carol @ Lucky Zucca March 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Best of luck with the change Tina!! I think listening to your body is so smart. Also, it sounds like this plan will help keep you from getting burnt out on running (which I know I would running 50 miles a week!). I’m sure you’ll do great no matter what plan you follow!!

64 Katrina March 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm

When training for my first full marathon last fall, I had to miss 4..FOUR FULL weeks due to nasty case of rhabdo (kidney failure from excessive movement). When I got back to running, I switched over to the Crossfit Endurance plan. I had already been doing CF for over a year and the “endurance” part is just what you described. Fewer runs, but make them count. I did cross the line with a very slow time, but I wasn’t injured. After some post race nausea, I went right to work the next day, and returned to CF and running a few days later. That worked for me. Now, I’m doing exclusive CF Endurance for an upcoming half. My training plan page looks weird…only 3 runs a week, but they are intervals and tempo runs and they have a purpose other than just logging miles. My crossfit 3-4 times a week brings in strength and power fitness. I allow myself the flexibility to add more miles/runs for stress relief, “therapy” or just because I want to run, but they are for mental health and confidence and nowhere near hard. Some days, I need to bring down my glucose levels and an easy trot on the TM does the trick. But I’m not confined to those or cross those off a list or plan.

65 Theresa @ActiveEggplant March 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I am SO glad you posted this! I just registered for my second marathon (Marine Corps!!) and have already been agonizing over a training plan. I know that running more than 3 times a week does not work well for me/my body and I was really having a hard time finding a plan that didn’t involve 5 days of running. I think I’ll be ordering this book right away!

66 Marcia March 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

GO with your gut! My first marathon…I ran 2x a week and X-trained the rest of the week( as a fitness instructor, I kinda had no choice…. 4 of the X-train sessions were spin class…and 2-3 were lifting…2 k-box) It was CRAZY. I ran well and had no regrets. :-) You are going to rock it.

67 natalie @ southern fit foodie March 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I always say to listen to your body first, it’s the best indicator of if something is (or isn’t) working correctly.

68 Theodora March 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

My first marathon, I did 3 days a week with lots of cross-training, and it definitely wasn’t enough. The second time around, I did 4 days of running, and it felt like the perfect amount. I’d either run 3-4 the day before a long run (the theory there is to sort of run off the desire to go fast) OR run 3-4 the day after recovery. It worked really well for me–I took off 40 min in between the 2 marathons.

And I don’t think you’re crazy at all to change things up halfway through–that’s SMART.

69 Amanda March 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm

The comments on this post are really interesting. Good for you that you recognized the need for change, I know you are going to ROCK that marathon. I’ve thought about trying the FIRST program. The one thing that really scares me: there are FIVE 20 mile long runs on the 16 week program. During my past marathon training, I did two 20 milers. Anyone who has used the SMART program can you chime in on the 5 20 milers? Did you do them all, did you modify the mileage, did you feel worn down or like doing so many 20′s was overkill?

70 tinareale March 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Oh, wow! I actually didn’t even notice that because I only paid attention from week 10 and out (where I’m at on my training schedule). Yea…I wouldn’t do 5 20 mile weeks. I would rather gradually build up to that mileage and get in 2 or 3, which is what it did for me using it from the 10 week mark. Thanks for pointing that out! I agree that is overkill.

71 Amanda March 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

That is what I figured too, modify the first few 20 milers and do 16 or 18 instead. Thanks for the feedback!

72 Karen March 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

When I decided to do a 10k race last summer I thought I originally planned on following the Couch to 10k program since I had success with the Couch to 5k program. When I actually started the program I quickly realized it wasn’t going to work for me. The first few weeks had me taking walking breaks after just a few minutes of running. I had just successfully completed the C25k and could run 3 miles without any issues – the thought of taking walking breaks after such a short time was pretty discouraging. So, I revised my plan of attack and just gradually increased my overall weekly mileage until I was comfortably run 6 miles. The adjustment worked for me and listening to my body felt like a better plan for my situation.

73 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I actually tweaked my plan halfway through. I realized I was running waaayyy too many miles than I needed to and was burning out fast. In my book, it’s totally normal to adjust after seeing how your body/schedule/life reacts to the training plan you’ve selected.

You’re not crazy. You got this. It just takes some getting used to.

That being said, how many miles do I need to plan to run with you for BLEND? :)

74 Charlotte March 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm

exactly halfway through my half marathon training I scrapped my old plan entirely and came up with a lower mileage higher intensity plan. like you said – no more junk miles that were doing damage to my recovery time!

I feel LOADS stronger in the month since I’ve been using the new plan. Don’t be scared, listen to your body!

75 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I think it’s good to know when something isn’t working for you and change it, rather than being stubborn and finishing it out just so you can say you stuck to the plan. And I agree on the junk miles thing, the plan I’m following is becoming exhausting!

76 AmyC March 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

You are so very NOT crazy! I’ve never changed a training plan in the middle of it, but I would if it wasn’t working/feeling right. I also do three runs a week – long on the weekends – and I’m loving running & staying healthy.

77 Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) March 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Marathon training is all about adaption and listening to your body, so, like everyone else seems to be commenting, this is a great move! Such a big component of the marathon race itself is being mentally tough, so you’ll probably be stronger in that department given this switch, if that makes sense.

78 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I think it’s totally SMART of you to change based on what you think your body needs!!!

79 Bri Carpenter March 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I’m definitely not training for a marathon as my goal is to be able to run just 5k (start somewhere, right?!) but I was following the C25K program. I would absolutely say that it is a great program, but like you, it just wasn’t working for me. I felt defeated and like a big time failure if I wasn’t able to complete the same running sequence as before and I realised that I would probably like running better if I focused on little things first. For example, getting into a good pace, which would naturally lead to a steady breathing pattern etc. I’m trying to log in 3 runs a week and doing it on my conditions makes it a lot more enjoyable. I’m also running better than I was when I was following the C25K.
Good luck with the rest of your training, I’m sure you’re going to rock your race!

80 Julie March 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

It’s a race plan not a race contract. The goal is to finish and get your best version of a finish and if that means switching it then I say go for it.

81 Carissa March 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I think you have to listen to your body and mind. RUnning should be a joy and not a chore. I only run two times a week, because the cross training is more what fuels me. You are you and no book is perfect!

82 Kathie March 13, 2012 at 5:18 am

I am SO GLAD you posted this!!!!!

Yes, Im finished my C25K training program in one week. Then, im starting half marathon training to run my first half marathon (also a Rock n Roll). Im basically following in your past footsteps after having DS. heehee. Anyway, I was looking at plans and had so far had my mind set on Hal’s novice half-mar plan but as Im preparing myself mentally for this new training endevour I cant help but feel that there is not enough xtraining days…and this is very important for me because I have a “problem” knee that if I dont keep the xtrain in the mix, it acts up pretty bad. (and im trying to avoid surgery so this is VERY important). Trying to figure out how it was all going to fit has been leaving me very frustrated and a little disappointed. Then, I read your post this morning..HALLELUIJHA! You come to my rescue…AGAIN! THANK YOU!!! And I am SO GLAD to hear you found a plan that makes YOU HAPPY and will WORK.FOR.YOU!! If it’s not one thing i’ve really learned and valued this past year is that fitness is fitness…as long as it’s for YOU and makes YOU happy and successful. GOOD LUCK! I’ll be following and supporting for sure!

83 Shane March 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Tina- I have learned from many years of running is to listen to your body and trust your gut. I am doing a lot of miles training for Boston and I just feel bored. You have to keep your mind involved so if changing it up will help keep you motivated and therefore better prepared so go for it. Good luck this weekend.

84 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut March 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

This is so interesting to me! I’ve been following Hal Higdon’s beginner training for my first half ever!! There is cross training and strength training in the workouts..but the different running routines are in the intermediate/advanced training plans. (check those might like em!)

I do feel like I run better when I run less often..but it’s challenging to hold back when people on twitter and daily mile run…daily!!

Thanks for this post and I will be checking out the FIRST program! And GOOD LUCK on your race! :-)

85 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut March 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

Just kidding this post was from the 12th so you already ran your race haha!! Hope it went well!! :-)

86 Sabrina April 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

So glad I found this posting! I am not alone in my thoughts about changing paths. I have done 2 half marathons and thought I would move up to the hal higdon’s intermediate half marathon plan and I am in week 3 and finding it a real grind. Decided that I would move to his novice 2 program which has more cross training, and I enjoyed using it for the second half I trained for. But I will have to see what the FIRST training plan has to offer before I make the switch. Thank so much.

87 Cathy July 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I too am doing the First Method for my next Half. I was tired of feeling guilty for missing mid week runs due to ‘having a life’ outside of running. I’m in week 3 and have noticed that I’m getting faster. I am not a fast runner though, but, considering I started running when I turned 51, I think I’m doing okay and I turned 55 yesterday. Now I’ll be one of the younger runners in my age group!

My goal is to finish my half at 2:20. My last was 2:29, but that was in March…way cooler than Sept here in southern part of Virginia.

Good luck on you Marathon!

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