The Training Plan of No-Plan

First order of business, if you’re one of the many who got here looking for the Hot Chocolate 15K Disaster, go here. If you were one of the many stuck in traffic (different experience than those of us who stood around in the cold, but still got to run), let’s hear it! Every side of the story varies.

Moving on! In things not related to chocolate or disasters, the legs had a great race. I had a modest goal, because 20,000 is a high number for a “shorter” distance. Visions of weaving, trampling and frustrations danced in my head – the idea of sprinting right through was virtually nonexistent.

The crowd-navigation proved to be a little easier than anticipated; the “Race Course Map” that I didn’t bother checking displayed a few hills that were not anticipated (until the morning-of).

No one labeled this course “fun” – but at least the end of it was scenic!

The plan I used to “train” for a speedy (for me) race – uh, wait.

No, there was no plan. I used The Plan of No-Plan. It has worked for me before, it’s working right now – I’ll take it.

Yesterday, Tiffany asked:


My answer(s) to that question vary by the race, month, week, or day. I’ve learned a lot training for 26.2s; I’ve run 13.1s that required training, and some that didn’t (i.e. a “base, maintained” – something that comes & goes); I’ve raced many, many short distances without a goal – just to see what the legs can do on that day.

Right now, I’m running when I want to and doing the other things that I file under “fun” – yoga, sleeping in sometimes, not worrying about mileage or pace & just running to run. I do a weekly run with the Saturday group who tackles 10+ miles, and weekday adventures with my buddy, Kate, who prefers to go a bit faster (hence, I go faster, too).

There are a ton of races in the area, so sometimes I hop into them and tell the muscles to GO. There is no Plan; I prefer it that way.

In reading through some of the days I’ve talked about “training” – or my lack thereof – I think these points sum up my attitude & approach:

  • How to: Speed Up your Speed-work – switch up the routine!
    OR find a group, a run-buddy, or both that either meets for speed-work and/or just happens to go fast. STICK with them. It’ll make you faster, too.
  • Use that cross-training day! It’s inserted into almost every written plan, and there’s a good reason for it. The muscles appreciate something other than pavement-pounding.
  • Take Risks. Don’t over-analyze the “what if’s”; that’s all.
  • Revamp things – life changes, those little squares telling you how many miles to run and how fast to run them? They can change, too. It’s cool.
  • Strengthen those muscles! Running will only do so much – a fitness class that does anything outside of the running realm will be quick to teach you this lesson. Listen.
  • Figure out what motivates you. Sometimes it’s as simple as a cute new shirt, talking about your favorite city. Sometimes it’s progress.  Sometimes it’s a text from your also-training sister.
  • Be Flexible. Schedules will do anything but stay the same week-to-week; put a lid on stubbornness and go with the flow, when needed.
  • …last, but not least, the simple mantra. DO IT NOW. Stick to your guns.

8.29.11 043Hot Chocolate 15K Running BuddiesDC.NationalHalf 108

What tips do you have to add to that list?

Are you a No-planner, or do you stick the a schedule like glue?

We all function differently!  There are many ways to prep the legs for a starting line (and I’ve had some fun figuring out those that work, along with those that don’t….), the only thing you can do wrong is assume you can’t cross the finish line.



Filed under about me, learning, making plans, Races, running, training

12 responses to “The Training Plan of No-Plan

  1. I’ve gone through phases of sticking to the plan like glue, and others where I just wing it. I can see the merit and both, so I usually just do whatever works best for me at that time.

    Love your no-plan approach here and clearly, it worked!

  2. This is why I dig you – your approach to running (and training) is similar to mine. I like to make my own rules. I LOVE to run just to run, too. It also depends on my goals at the time. And it definitely includes learning to take risks and to leap into fear with courage – something I fully plan to do when it’s time to start training for my first 26.2 – a training plan I’ve already started to concoct, I might add 🙂

  3. Thanks for answering my question!! I feel so special 🙂 To answer yours, I usually stick to my training plan about 90%, leaving the other 10% for “off” days or cross training. I’m “expecting” now, so not training for anything huge. Maybe a 10K? Thanks for your tips!

  4. I’ve been on both sides – the no planner and the super planner. right now i’m being coached, so I get a new schedule every week that is kind of based on how i felt the week before, so it’s a bit of both. but I also think, if you’ve figured out what works for you, than do it, no matter what “those” people say!

  5. I’m often a girl with a no-plan plan as well. The thing is, my regular schedule is already aggressive enough often times that I could hop into a half and feel pretty strong. Maybe not a PR, but I could run the whole thing feeling prepared.

    I think the speed work on Thursdays, Lifeforce Fit on Wed and running throughout the week are all helpful training pieces. I think regular core work and strength are key to being ready to run a race with a no-plan plan.

    The last few days I’ve been thinking of signing up for the Eugene Marathon this spring. I feel like my body is strong from my fall marathon and with the Hagg Lake trail race coming up, I feel like these legs will be ready and willing. It’s just a matter of putting in the time on those long weekend runs.

  6. I’m not good at plans either. Lately I’ve been loving totally random circuit workouts, just doing whatever exercises I feel like for 1 minute each. It keeps me from getting bored!

  7. Just found you… great post! With a toddler in the house, I definitely need a plan, but then I adjust it a bit as I go throughout the week. I like to know there’s some flexibility, so I don’t feel “trapped” to the schedule. I’ve read a lot of complaints about the Hot Choc race, yikes!!

  8. I’m always the planner. It kind of drives me bonkers sometimes that I don’t just get up and go with the flow sometimes. lol. Oh well I guess–it works well for me! 🙂

  9. You are amazing. Many great points, running races because you’ve maintained your pace is the best feeling. 13.1, who would have thought you could just go out and run it. That’s really a tribute to your dedication.

    I remember lying in bed one night and deciding I was ready for a marathon, sometimes running speaks to you.

    Revamping and being flexible are my favorites. I will also see what my pals are doing and if I’m interested in racing or training with them. Safety in numbers:)

    • Heather C

      I love that story! I remember knowing that a big group of my friends were doing 26.2 and I felt like one the day of, I’d feel left out if I hadn’t tackled it, too. Hah, can’t say that got me through the first round of training (oof), but at least it got me to click “register!”. And so it began…

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