Find Your Perfect Race Training Plan

So you’ve decided to train for a race. You’ve done all the volleying back and forth (do I have enough time? can my body handle it? do I really want to give up my weekend mornings for the next 8-16 weeks?) and settled on YES (which, fortunately, is the best answer 🙂 ). You’ve picked out the perfect race based on your calendar, travel plans, and of course, a preview of the finisher’s medal (that’s why we all run races anyway, isn’t it?). Now, it’s time to pick a training plan.

Here’s where I save you hours of grueling internet research and temporary cross-eye from scanning a million tiny charts of numbers, squinting to determine what sets them all apart. Who has the best running training plans? Hal Higdon.

Hal Higdon is a trainer and former Runner’s World contributor who’s created a fantastic selection of training plans for anything from 5Ks to marathons. Finding one that works for you is like finding something you like on The Cheesecake Factory’s menu: with so many options, there’s got to be something perfect.

I’ve used Hal’s training plans in working up to my first half marathon, my first full marathon, and several in between. He offers at least one novice, one intermediate, and one advanced plan for each race distance, based on your pre-training fitness level and how intense or gradual you’d like your training to be. The best part about this? Once you use one of Hal’s plans and are comfortable with the structure and methodologies he uses, you can rest easy knowing that he’s got your back as you work your way up to super-advanced training for ultramarathons. (Kidding. Unless that’s your thing, in which case, GO YOU!).

Hal’s plans can be printed in a nice, simple, one-page table that outlines your daily to-dos (he also offers apps for some plans, but call me old fashioned). I like this format for half marathons or shorter races, when the time span isn’t too long and you can hopefully count on getting through training without requiring major breaks, injury buffers, or repeated weeks. As you can see, I make lots of modifications to the schedule based on what works for me. Yes, hot yoga on Wednesdays is a must, and I prefer to do long runs on Saturdays instead of Sundays. And as my girl Britney told me, that’s my prerogative.

When it comes to training for longer distances, like my first full marathon, I prefer to rewrite each week’s training down on blank printable calendars for each month. With up to 6 months training ahead of you, this helps leave room for weeks off (for vacation, injury prevention, injury treatment) and repeating weeks (“my week 8 training stunk; let’s try that again”).

Hope you’re able to find what works best for you! Have you found other training gurus with plans like Hal’s? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

One thought on “Find Your Perfect Race Training Plan

  1. Robin says:

    I used Hal Higdon’s training plans for both of my halfs and loved them!!!! I was really nervous for my first half but following his training plan made me feel super prepared. I also do the exact same thing as you where I make a blank printable calendar and then write down what day I’m running what. I also like to use the calendars to keep track of my progress, so I’ll write down my time and pace for each run I do because it’s really rewarding for me to see my pace improve as I train, and it’s also a good motivator for me to train harder.

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