I started the training for The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k with a plan. I found the plan online.
Since the race is over and I made it to the finish line I have to assume the plan worked. But did I actually follow the plan? This turned out to be a very interesting analysis.
Here is the original plan – as I probably mentioned before I moved Tuesday/Wednesday to Monday/Tuesday because running on Wednesday does not work with my other commitments. This plan reflects the change.
CD = cycle down
Apparently despite posting here, printing this out (twice), and putting all of the runs on my calendar, I did not actually follow the plan. Here’s what I actually did:
|Less Than Plan||89.94|
Blue - increase in miles
Red - reduce miles
Purple - intentional change to original plan
Where/Why did I differ?
- Week 1 – Perfect – hit all 5 days as scheduled!
- Week 2 – HUGE snowstorm over the weekend meant roads and trails were inaccessible BUT I spent more hours on my feet shoveling than I would have running. Ran 3 days.
- Week 3 – Increased Monday because I was going crazy after the storm. Dentist appointment on Thursday and couldn’t run in the dark after appointment due to snow on the ground. Ran 4 days.
- Week 4 – Back spasms Saturday night into Sunday morning. Ran 4 days.
- Week 5 – Perfect – hit all 5 days as scheduled!
- Week 6 – Ice put me on the elliptical on Monday. Was supposed to do 10 on Sunday but stopped at 9.5 due to mud and rain and tired legs. Almost perfect – ran 4 days + one day of elliptical.
- Week 7 – Perfect – hit all 5 days as scheduled!
- Week 8 – 3 instead of 4 on Monday. 8.4 instead of 8 on Sunday. Ran 5 days.
- Week 9 – Just could not hit the 8 milers without walking the last mile. Ran 5 days.
- Week 10 – Everything was a struggle and I had a weird blister. Ran 4 days.
- Week 11 – Plan change to reduce mileage and allow for a taper. I did the taper plan so basically perfect. Ran 5 days.
- Week 12 – I dropped the Thursday run so I could see Meb. I may have missed some miles but I gained so much inspiration and good advice that it was totally worth it. Ran 3 days.
- Week 13 – Race week – since I finished the race we will call this one perfect!
I was shocked at how different my actual running was from the plan. Normally I freak out if I’m not perfectly following a plan but this training cycle was different. It was much, much, much more than I have ever done and I realized I had to be flexible if I wanted to get to the start line healthy. I think I made good choices when I had to about modifications and I felt strong on race day so I know it worked.
I learned that I can run 5 days a week but it might be a bit much for me. Cycling down to 4 days a week probably allowed some much needed recovery that helped me when it came time to race. It turns out that running 10 miles in the evening after work was just not achievable but also not necessary.
I ran 5 days a week 38.5% of the time, 4 days a week 38.5% of the time and only 3 days 23% of the time.
If I ever did this again I would consider intentionally scheduling weeks without the back to back long runs. It turned out that way anyway and it might have been better for me.
I do like short training cycles and 13 weeks felt much better than the 100 weeks that I did last year for the half marathon. (Ok, I obviously did not do 100 weeks but I think it was 20 which was way too much for any race.)
Overall I’m pleased with what I accomplished. I’m shocked at how well I handled the high weekly and monthly mileage. Here is a chart that shows the difference from where I was previously.
April will be low overall because now I’m focused on recovery and running without a plan.
While I didn’t follow this plan exactly I think I followed the intent pretty well. I’ve learned missing a few miles here and there doesn’t mean much on race. I don’t see myself racing anything long without a plan. I need structure and I need a starting point.