September 16, 2015

Following a training plan and some Jeff Galloway blogger tips

As Jeff Galloway bloggers, we are periodically given tips to share with our readers.  No compensation is received for this post.

Training plans are something I have used since I started running back in the fall of 2010.  After agreeing to run the Princess Half Marathon with Christine, we searched the internet and found a training plan to get us to the finish line of our first half marathon.  Little did we know this was the start of a love of running and racing. We shared our ups and downs during the training cycle and even a few of our longer runs when we were together for a weekend.

Dog eared with lots of check marks and notes from my first half marathon!

Fast forward a few years and we still follow a training plan for all of our big races. Having a plan has given me the motivation to get out for a run even when I don't feel like it. . By following a plan, your body will adapt to difference distances as you improve on your speed and run for a longer period of time or distance. Most training plans for runners include one or more rest days per week and they are just as important as the active days. These are critical to include in your plan in order for your body to adapt to the distance and pace you are putting it through whether it's a track workout, tempo or long run. If you are running a race at either Disney World or Disneyland, you can find Jeff's training plans for the specific races on the website.  Both Christine and I followed his plans, for Dopey Challenge, Dumbo Double Dare Challenge and the Goofy Challenge.

My NYC Marathon training is in full swing now and my coach and I are using Training Peaks, a website/ phone App where I report my progress and she gives me my workouts and running plan. Once again, I am counting on someone else to help me figure out what to do to get to the starting line healthy and ready to run 26.2 miles.

My favorite tip this month is the one about rest days.  Many new runners want to run as many days as possible, but adding mileage quickly can lead to quick burnout and injury. For older runners, rest days are especially important because our recovery time is longer.  I always have either an easy day or rest day prior to my long run and the day after the run might include a little upper body strength work or some sit ups, but never any cardio workout. Most weeks I have two rest days incorporated into my plan and other than walking the dog I pretty much stick to no exercise those days.

For success with your training plan, you need to be dedicated to following it, and willing to change things up when you are struggling to get in the work.  Find a training buddy, pick our a new place to run or get someone to bike alongside of you for those longer runs.

THE TRAINING PLAN- Tips from Jeff:

WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN?  When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation.  Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual,  tend to improve more, with less injury risk.

WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN  Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice.  This leads to confusion and more aches and pains.  The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.

1)       A longer run builds endurance, 2) a hilly run builds strength, 3) Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more.

WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER?  The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal.  Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts.  To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual. 

EVERY OTHER DAY!  Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day.  This allows for the “weak links” to heal.  The very slow long run is usually on the weekend, when there is more time available.  Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example,Tuesday and Thursday)

SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don't have to exert yourself on non running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat.  So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking.

DOES VARIETY HELP?  Changing things a bit can improve motivation.   You don't have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.

WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit.  Hill runs build strength.  Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form.  Long runs produce stamina and endurance.

WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS?  Take it easy on these days.  Do little or no exercise, don't over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.

SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY.  Not Recommended!  It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves.  While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.
IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation.  Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience  more burnout and injury.

 How do you keep yourself accountable to a training plan?


  1. For all of my big training cycles I've used modified versions of one of Galloway's training plans. Without having a training plan, I find it difficult to know how much mileage I should be running each week.

  2. I don't follow these types of training plans, but I always say find something that works for you, and gets you the training you need to finish a you would prefer and stick to it!
    You are going to love NYC, it's such an experience. Like Boston, you'll find it's just amazing. But the difference with NYC besides the runners from around the world and stuff, all those spectators. Seriously like 3 million people come out, and it's like nothing no other race (from what I hear) offers. Looking forward to how it goes for you!

  3. I usually like to wing it, but that's certainly not ideal! I just figured out the rest of my training plan for W&D and actually wrote it on a calendar! I haven't done that in a long time!

  4. Training plans are key for me! I like having a goal and a plan to reach it!

  5. For my last marathon I followed the JG training plan to a "T". This year I am modifying it a bit to hopefully avoid falling back into an injury. -M

  6. Training plans are a must, but I think I have a love-hate relationship with them. On one hand, it stresses me out and makes me feel guilty when I can't tackle all of the runs on a given week, or when I just don't feel like running a 7-mile midweek run. But yet, without a training plan, I have to fight with myself to lace up my sneakers most of the time, and I just don't feel motivated. I've tried a bunch of different plans so far, but I definitely like Higdon...I totally credit him with getting me through the Dopey Challenge as my first marathon strong and injury-free! :)

  7. Jeff Galloway always has such good advice!