March 30, 2015

Running Bloggers & Training Plans

Mom and I have always discussed how much we enjoy reading about other runner’s training plans and results. We genuinely enjoy reading how people put together a plan, whether it’s working with a coach, evaluating notable plans like Galloway or Higden, or incorporating cross training and strength training. Honestly, I wish more bloggers talked about their training plans and how they picked them. Given all of this, you can imagine my sentiments when someone posted something on Twitter last week directly addressing bloggers and asking them not to write about training plans unless they held an exercise science degree or are a certified coach.


I sat back for a minute and thought about it…and then became really fired up. Just because I don’t have an exercise science degree or a personal training certification or a coaching certification does not mean that I shouldn’t discuss training. Furthermore, I don’t believe that I have ever portrayed myself as a coach or fitness professional so there shouldn’t really be any confusion in how I’m discussing my training. In the posts where we have talked about our training, we have discussed how and why we developed a plan. As you know, Mom now uses a coach from an extraordinarily reputable running club.  Basically I bow down and worship Sami, a twelve time Ironman finisher and Kona IM qualifier. We have both had great success using the Run Less, Run Faster plans so we’ve recommended that plan for consideration to other runners. And we’ve used Jeff Galloway’s plans for many of the runDisney challenge races.

Heck, I can write whatever I want on this page, but generally speaking we try to be coherent, honest, and transparent about running, racing, and everything else. More specifically, we both feel passionate about being transparent with our training. We hope it might be insightful to someone else. Maybe someone would realize that you can do speed work on a TM like I do when you don’t have access to a track. Maybe someone might consider adding pick-ups to a long run like Mom often does. Maybe someone would read my post about core work and provide recommendations for something that worked for them.


My Twitter buddy also seemed to say that personalized, custom plans were the only legitimate training plans. Obviously a plan that is tailored specifically for you has benefits and lots of them. I’m not in any way discounting the personalized coaching experience. However, I don’t believe that’s the only option and in some cases, that may not be the right option for everyone. Mom and I have discussed this several times. She has tried to encourage me to consider Sami or the rest of the WOL coaching crew for virtual coaching. When she recommended it to me earlier this year for Princess, I told her I wasn’t ready to commit to an intense training plan. My heart wasn’t in it so I used Jeff Galloway’s Glass Slipper Challenge plan instead. And guess what, I scored a sweet 10k PR?! Guess the plan worked, eh? When it comes to personalized coaching plans, some folks may not have the financial resources for this option or may not simply be interested in working with a coach. You can find a very solid training plan from highly reputable sources such as Galloway, Higden, or Runner’s World. And these are free online resources!


I generally subscribe to the philosophy that blogging is about community. Its a community of shared experiences and camaraderie. When it comes to training plans, there are many options for consideration and I’m of the mindset that there is no “right” option for everyone. Finances, schedules, family support, goals, and the like all play into what makes a training plan right. We greatly value from sharing our experiences with others and hearing your opinions and we hope that conversation continues.


How do you choose a training plan and what advice would you give to others about selecting a plan?
{Christine}

30 comments:

  1. I 100% agree with your last paragraph. I can't believe someone would make a comment like that. I choose a training plan based on what's going on in my life, my current fitness level and realistic goals. I enjoy reading and following other bloggers through training cycles.
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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  2. I agree with you. When I share my weekly workouts or training plan on my blog, it's not because I'm "prescribing" it for someone else to use, I'm only sharing what works for me, and if someone can take something from that then great!

    Someone who follows my blog actually noticed that I only run 3 times a week and asked me about training for a marathon on only 3 runs because they didn't think it was possible - well it works for me (my body just doesn't like more running!) and I'm glad that sharing that may have encouraged someone else ti believe they can run a marathon on 3 runs a week!

    I feel the same way about running as I do yoga - we are all different and we need to listen to and respect our bodied and do what's right for ourselves.

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  3. I am 100% in agreement with you! Personally, I like to see others training plans and gain ideas from others!

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  4. I wrote a post a few months ago called Design Your Own Marathon Training Program. I had a Twitter follower (maybe the same one!) jump on that like I was telling people to jump off a cliff. I wrote my own plans long before I was a coach (I have a 3:16 PR so maybe I knew what I was doing?).

    As long as you are not prescribing plans I don't get what the big deal is. You're talking about what works for you. I find that interesting and relevant.

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  5. Wow! That twitter comment makes me a little mad! I basically make my own training plan. I use several different sources but have found what works best for me and my body. I will write about what works for me on my blog. And I don't see any harm in that. Sharing your ideas and what you do is part of blogging.

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  6. I saw that exchange and the twitterer often posts rude and condescending remarks. customised training is his business. I do agree bloggers need to be transparent about the "tips" and advice they give, but readers should also inform themselves about what they read/look for online. I will share weekly recaps for training and see no issue with that. Everyone is different and has unique needs! I think you handled it well.

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  7. Wow, I'm glad I didn't see that Twitter comment! I love reading about the plans that work for other people, and consider their thoughts when tailoring a plan that will work best for me and my schedule. And of course sharing ideas with others and bouncing ideas off of others is what the blogging community is all about.

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  8. Ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as telling me I shouldn't talk about nutrition unless I have a degree in nutrition, despite the fact that I've spent countless hours reading research and educating myself, and literal years learning what is right for my body. Your response is spot on.

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  9. I saw the comment and I thought you handled the situation very well. I'm a certified coach, and I always try to caveat when I discuss my training that this is *my training* and that a reader should not blindly follow what I'm doing, but rather research and find what works best for them. I think working with a coach does have value, but it's not for everyone for a variety of reasons. And that is totally okay! As long as everyone is transparent and honest (without being rude and obnoxious), I say just do you!

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  10. Christine, you read my mind. I had a draft of a similar topic. Personally I use runcoach, which I started using a few years ago because it was $20 when I signed up for the Columbus Marathon. I've used it ever since. I, however, sometimes modify my training using other plans (last year's 6 weeks between marathons was a Hal Higdon plan). I've also used a mix of runcoach and FIRST last winter when I could only train 3-4 days/week. I recently read an ultramarathon training guide and McMillan's YOU (only faster), which I will most likely incorporate this fall. Even if you read the training books from the top coaches in the sport, they advise you that it's sometimes trial and error to learn what works for you.

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  11. I've never actually used a training plan because I have such a hard time sticking to them. Is there one you recommend? I would love to properly train for a race and see how it helps me improve.

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  12. I totally agree with you. I've shared my training plans but I'm very up front that this is MY training plan and that I am in no way suggesting anyone else follow it or that I am an expert. But I know a lot of people are interested and like to follow along. I like to do that for others.

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  13. People have opinions. What can you do? I kind of understand the way the person feels about bloggers stepping outside of their realm of expertise, just not so much about training plans. I don't feel like you need to be certified to say "Hey, this worked for me." in terms of that, particularly when you're talking about generally accepted plans like Higdon or Galloway that are published in books. I do get a little scared when people start talking about nutrition. There are so many nutritional products and diets sold just based on anecdotes or trends or celebrity endorsements. For someone to follow what a random blogger or co-worker or friend suggests in terms of that disturbs me. Whether or not someone claims to be an expert really doesn't make a difference if it sounds like it'll work. Sorry! I didn't mean to route your topic in a different direction. My point is that I do feel like both bloggers and readers have a responsibility to be careful about leading or following in certain directions. Intent is not always taken the right way.

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  14. What a strange comment on Twitter! I find it really helpful to read other bloggers talk about how they come up with their training plans, especially since it's something I'm fairly new to. I know when I read those blogs that the writers aren't saying "you have to do what I'm doing," they're just saying this is what works for me. And everyone is qualified to talk about their personal experience.

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  15. I usually take a training plan and modify it a bit. Not always intentionally but I do have a full time job that isn't always 9-5 and I need to make adjustments. That's how life is. I don't understand why you would "need" an excerise degree to detail YOUR training. That makes no sense! If I am reading a RUNNING blog, I like to see it all. Distance, pace, workouts....And really, its pure common sense that what works for you may not work for me.

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  16. I don't follow an "out of the box" training plan, but I'd say my training is closest to the Hansons style because I typically run 6 days a week and don't focus heavily on the long run (I run a decent distance each day, usually at least 5 miles). With my recent hip issues I've cut back over the past few weeks, and I'm cutting back this week to recover a bit, but when I start training again, I plan to stick with the Hansons philosophy/style- even though I don't specifically follow their plan.

    I really like reading everyone's training logs. When I was interested in Hansons (after realizing that it was basically close to what I was already doing but wanted to know more), I wanted to read how it was working for other running bloggers because I don't know anyone locally who is training that way. I don't think anyone reads a blogger's post and thinks it is like being coached or that we are specifically recommending something. 6 days of running per week works for me because of my life and schedule, but for others, such as someone who is a triathlete, or a parent, or someone traveling a lot, it will not work for them. Everyone has to find what works best for their life and their fitness goals.

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  17. i think that is a ridiculous sentiment and a limiting one. i will never apologize for blogging about my training, my experiences or my life. ugh. i also LOVE reading what others do to train. i'm so irritated at that comment!!

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  18. Well said! I haven't really been using a training plan as of late, but I've worked with multiple coaches and also modified online plans like Jeff Galloway's to create my own. I've shared some of my training in the past, more as a recap of what I've done than a specific training plan and I've always enjoyed reading your Weekly Round-ups - not because I'm going to incorporate it but more to see what others are doing.

    I also want to say that having worked with & paid multiple coaches for their expertise, that just because someone is certified as a coach that does not mean that they are any better at creating training plans than you or I. I had a coach who I paid a significant amount of money, just give me a calendar that showed the number of miles I was to run each day. To me, that was not worth the money when I could have gotten a similar training plan online for free. There are a lot of very good coaches out there so I'm not discounting that they work if you find the right one, but I found a lot of useful information on other non-coach bloggers sites but I've never considered taken that as they are trying to coach me or push their plan on to me.

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  19. I agree. Everyone is different so there is no certain training plan that works for everybody. I think it's great when I hear people talk about their training plans and their commitment to a program for a future race. I would love to follow one some day. But the truth is I rarely know what races I plan to do until closer to the time due to my work schedule. I recently read the Run less run faster book and that sounds like it is a great program for someone that can't run every day. -L

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  20. totally agree. I follow jeff galloway to a point and have been modifying it to fit with a run less, run faster approach. I have debated hiring a coach to get more help but as for now, I feel I can hold my own.

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  21. I have so many thoughts come to mind as I read this.
    First I am annoyed with the person that said that on twitter, I mean if they don't like it they should just ignore it and keep their mouth shut and focus on something positive!
    So I am not one who has ever followed training plans, or probably never will. At least not in the sense of looking at a spreadsheet and following it. However, that doesn't mean I have anything against them. I was just raised to run and train differently. But with that said, I do find it interesting to read about others training plans, whether I would do them or not. You can tell a lot about a person/runner by how they train.
    I have also noticed as I read blogs when I do read some training plans, and then a runner poses a question on why they are struggling or having a problem. Because I see what they are doing it is easy for me to say, well you said you train this way... but it's not working so maybe try something different.
    That is kind of the beauty of blogging. It's just like running.
    Runners come in all shapes/sizes and speeds. So do blogs, and so do their training plans or the ways they train. The benefit of a reader, is if one is having a struggle and not seeing the results or finding they aren't getting in shape as well as they want. They can look at other running bloggers and compare plans and notes and see where they may correct their own problems.
    I am probably not making much sense, but in other words I should have just said I agree with your post! I am find with others having opinions, but I also enjoy reading blogs and I like to see how others train, it's kind of fun!

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  22. I have used a training plan, mostly just for my first 1/2 way back 5 years ago. I stuck to that one and a few others building up to shorter distances pretty well. Now I just do what feels right and what I can fit in and do on my terms of how I feel, time, etc. Nothing is perfect, I could always do better, etc. I enjoy hearing how others train, and take some of those thoughts to heart and possibly apply them to my training. Sometimes I just run, and not worry about anything else other than getting the distance in. I agree with a lot that you wrote!

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  23. There is no one size fits all training plans, no doubt. But I think it's totally acceptable to talk about your specific training plan. You aren't forcing it on anyone else and your blog is your place to share what you want to share.

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  24. I have found them online, I have made up my own, I have planned with a coach. I am a big believer in whatever works for you.

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  25. I think there's a difference between sharing the plan you are following, versus sharing a plan and promoting it as one that others should follow. Personally, every time I follow a plan I get injured because I get too caught up in the numbers and don't listen to my body, but I look at on-line plans from Runners World (etc) as a guide.

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  26. Christine, I think you handled that gentleman's rather rude and single-minded comments with tact and grace. I hope you did not take his "attack" personally -- clearly someone like this has his own agenda and is not interested in opening his mind to considering how other runners' situations may be different from his.
    Though I am not a blogger myself, I have read several other runners' blogs, including yours, for several years. I had a huge, amazing running group community in Seattle, but since my recent move to the east coast, I have found myself wanting and needing to reach out and connect with other runners in different ways. I love being able to read how you and other bloggers are doing with training, races, etc. -- as you said, it's about camaraderie and community. I think you two ladies do an excellent job of being "transparent" with your training and racing strategies. And being a fellow gal with a full-time job for whom running is and will always be a "hobby," a personalized plan is not a high financial priority for me. I too use plans from Hal Higdon et al. which are available for free via books, internet, etc. What I enjoy reading about in blogs is how these various plans have worked for real live people. I appreciate the sharing of experiences and ideas from runners whom I feel are like-minded individuals.
    Sorry for the long rant! My point is, I agree with you completely. :-)

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  27. I can't believe someone would say that! I think your response was very well crafted. I agree with your last paragraph - customized coaching is not always the right decision. I have used a coach in the past (typically when I am working towards a specific goal race and/or PR), but I've also used group coaching and online training plans. There is no right or wrong way to train, just whatever works for that person!

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  28. Even though I did not read the tweet, it struck a nerve for sure! There is a whole bunch of things I could say but I think you really nailed it in your post. I have greatly benefited from the experiences of other bloggers and it has made my running journey that much more enjoyable. I have never hear any of my blogging friends say "This is what YOU should do". It's more like "This is what I'M doing and it's working for me like this..." It's a very big difference. I have also read many running books and the training plans in the Runner's World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon have been the cornerstone of everything I have done training-wise. If I am not doing one of the plans as is, then I'm doing some modified version of them to suit my needs. I always share not because I think what I do is the "right" way but because maybe someone, somewhere might read it and go "Well maybe I can try that"....

    You realy handled this a lot better than I would have that's for sure.

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  29. And don't get started on the whole "Customized coaching or nothing." debacle... lol

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  30. I feel like the entire internet needs to be taken with a "buyer beware" sort of attitude. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing about your training plan or your eating plan or whatever.

    For example, the general running community tends to believe that carb loading on pasta is great for prerace meals. Personally, if I ate a bunch of pasta the night before a race, I would be VERY sick on the course (speaking from many past experiences). But I know myself and my personal running needs. Do I get mad at the bloggers that believe otherwise? Heck no.

    People need to learn to be responsible for their own needs by researching and trial and error. It's not a blogger's responsibility or *liability* to go get a degree in exercise science just so they can post a training plan.

    Geez, now I'm fired up, too. Lol

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