Training Plans for Your Spring Race

Finding a training plan can be difficult. The internet is always a great place to begin but there are so many options.

The first step should be deciding how long do you want your training plan to be, but also knowing how long should your training plan be.

The second step will be determining the level of difficulty. Typically plans are broken up into Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Some sites and programs will assist you in making this determination. This step also takes into account what works and doesn’t work for you, such as the number of days a week to train and types of workouts.

Another step would be considering how much you are willing to pay. There are free plans out there and there are plans you have to pay for. Depending on what type of runner you are and what your goals are for your upcoming race will determine the cost-benefit analysis of each plan.

Next I took the opportunity to share with you some resources I have found as well as some that I have used. This is not the end-all-be-all list of training resources, but just my own personal list that I wanted to share.

Full Marathon Training Plans

The recommended training period for a full marathon is 20 weeks, excepted for experienced runners who have sufficient base mileage and can use a 16 week plan.

Hal Higdon’s Training Plans for a full marathon run from 18-30 weeks and are free on his website.

Your Marathon Training Plan also offers free plans as well as coaching services.

Coach Jenny also offers free 20 week training plans.

Some races also offer specific training programs often for a discounted rate, in addition to their free training programs. For example, TCS New York Marathon offers both. Other free training programs include: Chicago Marathon, LA Marathon, Boston Marathon.

Half Marathon Training Plans

The recommended training period for a half marathon is 12-14 weeks.

Hal Higdon offers multiple 12 week training programs

5K Training Plans

Hal Higdon offers 8 week training programs.

There is always the iconic Couch-to-5K Running Plan, which now even has an app for that!

Full Marathon Relay Training Plans

This type of training is dependent on how long your relay leg.

Books containing Training Plans

Run Less, Run Faster – Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, And Ray Moss

YOU (Only Faster) — Greg McMillan

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning — Hal Koerner

Daniels’ Running Formula — Jack Daniels

Advanced Marathoning — Pete Pfitzinger

Hansons Marathon MethodLuke Humphrey and Keith Hanson

Customized and Online Training Programs

Most of these programs are customized to your specific history and goals, and some of the programs can also be updated based on how your training progresses. The following links include a variety of training plans as well as coaching services.


Training Peaks

McMillan Running

Hansons Coaching Services

Other Resources

Runner’s World has training plans that can be downloaded to their RW2GO app, as a pdf, or to Training Peaks for varying fees.

The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training

The “Non” Runner’s Guide to Marathon Training

Question: What resources do you recommend?
Comment below!

Thanks for reading!





DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. As always, please consult your doctor with any medical issues, or before beginning a training program.

Spring Marathon(s) Training

Once Fall Race season was over, it was time to sit down and make some decisions about 2014. After having completed my 3rd full marathon along with a total of 5 half marathons all in the same year, I set my sights on completing two full marathons in the same calendar year; one in the Spring and one in the Fall. I had already signed up for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in the Spring, and I had yet to decide on a Fall (I’m crossing my fingers for NWM‘s in San Francisco). However, by signing up for a spring marathon,  my primary goal was really just to motivate myself to run throughout the winter.  My first marathon was in the Spring of 2010, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with training for a Spring marathon. But in 2010, 2011 and 2012, I didn’t run a single mile in November or December, even though the following Springs I had half marathons scheduled.

Then I got finagled into a second Spring marathon. The previous 3 winters were mild, so I never factored any winter weather (besides mild cold temperatures) into my training plan. But regardless of the weather, training for two marathons was really going to test my dedication and commitment to running more. With this additional spring race, I needed to make sure that I evaluated my previous training and make any necessary adjustments. Every training period should be treated differently: changing what needs to change, adding what needs to be added, or fixing what needs to be fixed.

  • The first thing that needed to change following my 2013 Columbus Marathon training was how often I was running. With Daylight Savings Time, I had limited hours that I could run outside and I had no access to a treadmill. I tried for part of November to run after sunset, but this led to a few too many trips and one not so pretty fall and that was the end of running in the dark. So that brought the change in how often I was running. There are plenty of books on training concepts. One I had heard about was the book “Run Less, Run Faster” by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss. Based on the book, the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training created a calculator that I used to develop my training plan for my first spring marathon. Using this, I went from running 5 days a week to only 3 days, which of course changed my usual “Track Tuesdays” to longer speed workouts. With this plan, indeed I would be running less (often), but running longer distances on the days when I would be running, which presented a challenge because until this training period, I wasn’t able to consistently run those distances comfortably. Then winter hit. On the days that I wasn’t snowed in, or when the temperatures were above 0 degrees, I soon came upon the dilemma of snow, ice, sleet. My runs no longer were about time but just about getting out there and getting the mileage in when the weather would allow. Going into the first spring marathon, I had no run a single speed workout and I think it showed.
  • Going into my second spring marathon, I only had 6 weeks to train, which brought in Hal Higdon’s Multiple Marathon Plan. With the weather improving, now I needed to decide what needed to be added. The obvious first addition was speed. I decided not to do traditional speed workouts but to incorporate more tempo and threshold runs into my training. Those two pieces were always my weaknesses before and types of runs I tried to avoid. And it was obvious if you’ve seen my race results: mile 1 is always my fastest, I’m holding a nice speed for the majority of the race and then it tapers off a cliff. So I’ve been working on holding MGP for medium distance runs, and on long runs holding a comfortable pace at the start and finishing stronger.
  • But what needed to be fixed? Well, my pacing did. Adding in the above two pieces would help, but I needed to focus on my pacing the other days as well. Yes, both of these two pieces have been part of my training puzzle for a while, and no matter how many times you see an MGP run on your training schedule, until you put the effort into completely that run as prescribed, you won’t see results. In previous training periods it was often a struggle just to get the runs in and do the prescribed mileage, so that was always my focus. Now that that battle has been won, it’s on to the next challenge. Most of my previous training runs have been within my prescribed goal pace, but if you ever saw my mile splits, oh my, the paces were all over the place! I needed to become more consistent with running a steady pace for my entire run.

Overall, this training period was unlike any other I had experienced before. But each training period presents its own challenges to overcome, and different end goals to reach. Last year when I was training for Columbus, my training goal was just to successfully complete a training plan, something that I had struggled with for the previous two marathons (and quite a few halfs). With the fall marathon season over 4 months away, I haven’t yet finalized my race or my goal; however, I am making some considerations for my next marathon training period.

  • I’m going to change back to my normal training plan, which is utilizing runcoach. For both my next goal half marathon, Rock n Roll Chicago, as well as whatever ends up being my fall marathon.
  • I know I will need to add more structured Intervals during my training, and most likely at least one of those will be implementing Yasso 800s. For those of you unfamilar with Yasso 800s, about 2 months before your race, you do 4 x 800s at your marathon goal pace, with equal amounts of rest. Then each week I would add one more 800, until about 2.5 weeks out I would do a total of 10 x 800s. An example is if my marathon goal pace was 3:35, then I would run each 800 in 3:35 and take 3:35 rest in between attempts.
  • Last, I’ll continue to work on fixing my pacing. How? I’m not so sure, but I’ll be relying strongly on my workouts and be striving to hit my targeted pace each run. I often aim to hit a pre-planned pace but once I start running I all too often throw caution to the wind and run based on feel. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but everything has a time and a place, and sometimes certain paces just aren’t meant to be run during certain workouts.

So what’s next? I have 3 Half Marathons lined up in July, August and September, before the yet-to-be-determined Fall Marathon!

Don’t forget to check out my GCM Training Roll-up here and my GCM Race Recap here.

Question: How to do you train for your races?



Glass City Marathon: Training Roll-up

Since I only had 6 weeks between my Spring Marathons, I utilized Hal Higdon’s 6 Week Multiple Marathon Training Plan, which can be found here. I still utilized runcoach to track my training. In previous training periods, my training weeks have always been Sunday thru Saturday, but Hal Higdon’s program was for a Monday thru Sunday training week. With GCM on a Sunday, that made sense to me. I did notice, however, that sometimes this presented the potential to cause confusion. For example, in the second week of taper, I say that I’m not running anything over a 10 mile run, yet on Sunday I ran 12 miles, because that Sunday was technically part of the previous week of training. Since I already planned on summarizing this entire training period, I thought this would be the best time to address it and re-present my weekly roll-ups they way that they should have been originally displayed.

GCM: Week One
Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: 3.18 mile Run.
Wednesday: Rest.
Thursday: 2 mile Run.
Friday: 2 mile Run.
Saturday: Rest.
Sunday: 6 mile Run.
Weekly Totals: 13.18 miles (2 hours 1 min)

GCM: Week Two
Monday: 2 mile Run.
Tuesday: Rest.
Wednesday: 5 mile Run and CrossFit.
Thursday: Rest.
Friday: 3 mile Run.
Saturday: 6 mile Run.
Sunday: 12.15 mile Run.
Weekly Totals: 28.19 miles (4 hours 23 mins)

GCM: Week Three
Monday: CrossFit.
Tuesday: 4.15 mile Run.
Wednesday: 6.04 mile Run and CrossFit.
Thursday: CrossFit.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 6 mile Run.
Sunday: 14.03 mile Run.
Weekly Totals: 30.26 miles (4 hours 48 mins)

GCM: Week Four
Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: 5.03 mile Run.
Wednesday: 6 mile Run.
Thursday: Rest.
Friday: 5.1 mile Run.
Saturday: 4.0 mile Run.
Sunday: 12.57 mile Run.
Weekly Totals: 32.23 miles (4 hours 58 mins)

GCM: Week Five
Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: 4.0 mile Run.
Wednesday: 6.0 mile Run.
Thursday: 4.0 mile Run.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 3.15 mile Run.
Sunday: 10.0 mile Run.
Weekly Totals: 27.17 miles (4 hours 17 mins)

GCM: Week Six
Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: 2.0 mile Run.
Wednesday: 3.1 mile Run.
Thursday: Rest.
Friday: 2.0 mile shake-out Run.
Saturday: Rest.
Sunday: RACE Day 26.2 miles!
Weekly Totals: 33.35 miles (5 hours 12 mins)

See the original weekly workout recaps here. And see my GCM Recap here.

Hopefully this cleared up any confusion, I know it did for me!



Glass City Marathon: Week Six

This is Race Week! Finally it’s here! Training this week is very relaxed. My total mileage is going to be no more than my longest training run, and my pace is going to be very conservative. This is the week where if I feel my pace is too fast, I’ll actually stop and walk.

Sunday: Ran 10 miles. My last long run. [Training Plan = 10 miles]

Monday: Rest. [Training Plan = Rest]

Tuesday: Ran 2 miles. Slightly heavy winds, but warm and beautiful. My legs felt fresh. [Training Plan = 2 miles]

Wednesday: Ran 3 miles. Legs didn’t feel as fresh yesterday, but when music free. [Training Plan = 3  miles]

Thursday: Rest. [Training Plan = Rest]

Friday: Ran 2 miles. Most advice is to rest 2 days out and then run a shake out run the day before. But sometimes I feel like the day-before plan is just to exhausting, so I plan on a shakeout run 2 days before, followed by a GREAT night’s sleep. [Training Plan = 2 miles]

Saturday: Rest. Spent the day in class but snuck out at lunch to the Expo for packet pick-up. [Training Plan = Rest]

Weekly Totals:

  • 2 hours 38 mins
  • 17.05 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.

If you haven’t already checked out my Race Day Preparation blogs, you can find them here.


Glass City Marathon: Week Five

The second week of taper and I’m 2 weeks out from GCM. This week my total mileage should be 50-60% of GCM Training Week Three, which was my Peak Week. My short runs are going to be about 4-6 miles and my longest run is going to be about 10 miles.

Sunday: Ran 12.07 miles. The humidity was strong, but my last “long” run is complete. [Training Plan = 12 miles]

Monday: Rest. And a very pleasant hour long deep tissue massage. [Training Plan = Rest]

Tuesday: Ran 4 miles. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…WHAT?!? On Sunday it was 70+ and sunny, on Monday it was 60ish and rainy, but on Tuesday it’s barely above freezing with snow on the ground…So much for April showers… [Training Plan = 4 miles]

Wednesday: CrossFit & Ran 6 miles. I made my return to CrossFit for some ring-dips, some heavy KB swings, double-unders, pull-ups, and KB push presses. My body was in a bit of shock because I feel like I definitely lost some strength and coordination. But I’m reminding myself that in 10 days, I’ll be back for good. Following my discouraging WOD, I ran 6 miles to get caught by two different trains, forcing me to do some extra loops and making my 6 mile finish about a half mile from my car. BTW 45 degrees feels very chilly after running 6 miles! [Training Plan = 6 miles]

Thursday: Ran 4 miles. Back to beautiful 60 degree and sunny weather! [Training Plan = 4 miles]

Friday: CrossFit. Pull-ups and Handstands; Wall Balls, S2O and Box Jumps. [Training Plan = Rest]

Saturday: Ran 5k. Was supposed to be 5 miles but it was cold with an icy wind and my legs refuses to warm up so in the spirit of the taper I listened to my body and called it. [Training Plan = 5 miles]

Weekly Totals:

  • 4 hours 38 mins
  • 29.24 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.

If you haven’t already checked out my Race Day Preparation blogs, you can find the them here.


Glass City Marathon: Week Three

This week is Peak Week, which means this is week 4 out from GCM. Although this is not exactly a model peak considering my longest run is so short, I only had 6 weeks between marathons. Although I am a dedicated runcoach runner, for this brief 6 weeks I’m using Hal Higdon’s 6 Week Multiple Marathon Training Plan, which can be found here.

Sunday: Run. The weather was 35 degrees and sunny. I picked a straight out and back trail for today’s run to change things up. The scenery was beautiful. I tried to really work on pacing myself, and just enjoying the run, all 12 miles of it. My pace was a little bit slower than I would’ve liked but considering that it’s two weeks since I ran a marathon, I’m happy with it. [Training Plan = 4-5 miles]

Monday: CrossFit. Back Squats, 400m Sprints, and Double Unders…oh my! I’ve had an on again off again relationship with DUs, but today after almost 3 weeks away, I had much more success with them! A pretty solid return to the box. [Training Plan = Rest]

Tuesday: Run. 4.15 miles in 52 degree sunny (but windy) weather. [Training Plan = 4 miles]

Wednesday: CrossFit and Run. Box Jumps, Snatches, and Overhead Squats…if I wasn’t feeling very flexible before, I felt it after! Then it was off for a 6 mile run in 52 Degrees. [Training Plan = 6  miles]

Thursday: CrossFit. Front Squats? While the Back Squats are great for your rear, Front Squats are great for your front! And by front I mean it’s great for getting that definition in your quads. Plus a little Kettlebell Swings and Wall Balls, and oh yeah 200m rows every 3 minutes! My 1RM for Front Squats is a bit rusty, but let’s just say I did 5 reps 10lbs heavier yesterday… Unfortunately after CrossFit, it was 34 Degrees and pouring rain, and although I desperately wanted to run, I knew it wasn’t the smartest idea, so I skipped the 4 miles. [Training Plan = 4 miles]

Friday: Rest. [Training Plan = Rest]

Saturday: Run. I was supposed to go on the Ed Dibble Training Run this morning, but between the non-ideal weather and feeling a bit under the weather, I decided to skip it. I waited until it warmed up in the afternoon and enjoyed a pleasant 6 mile run in 46 degrees and sunshine! [Training Plan = 6 miles]

Weekly Totals:

  • 4 hours 28 mins
  • 28 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.

If you haven’t already checked it out, here’s my preparations blog for 4 weeks out from race day. And if you’re looking ahead, check out my race day preparations for 3 weeks out here.


Glass City Marathon: Week Two

This week saw my return to CrossFit, as well as getting back onto the wagon for Marathon Training!

Sunday: Run. The weather was 34 degrees, windy, but sunny. I started off not wanting to run at all, but I had to skip Saturday’s run so I then considered cutting my run in half. I remembered that I love running this city when I’m in town and that GCM is only 5 weeks away. I’m so glad I forced myself to get out there. It was such a great way to start my week. 6 miles finishing down Nationwide Blvd. [Training Plan = Rest]

Monday: Run. I had planned on attending CrossFit today, but those heavy squats and box jumps made me pass; my legs just aren’t quite ready for that. So I ran 2 miles instead in 34 degree weather around the Woodlands Park neighborhood. [Training Plan = 2 miles]

Tuesday: Rest. No excuses. I went and saw Divergent with my mom instead 🙂 No regrets either about missing this run. But I was thrilled to see that there was still sunlight when I left the theater at 8pm, that means it’s spring again! [Training Plan = 2 miles]

Wednesday: CrossFit & Run. Went to CF did some strict shoulder presses, a few power snatches and power cleans, and a whole lotta burpees…then I ran 5 miles as if it wasn’t enough. [Training Plan = 2  miles]

Thursday: Rest. I currently take a class every other Thursday to work on finishing my masters, but yesterday I was debating on seeing if I could work in a 2 mile run to make up for Tuesday. Then I woke up today and remembered it has been a few months since I did CF and Running back-to-back (however, from July 2013 until November 2013, it was a daily occurrence), and I’m a tad bit sore today…so Rest it is! [Training Plan = Rest]

Friday: Run. 3 miles with headwinds of 25-30 mph and 45 degree weather. [Training Plan = 2 miles]

Saturday: Run. 6 miles that were cloudy, wet, and cold. And it was fabulous (no sarcasm, I promise!). [Training Plan = 4 miles]

Weekly Totals:

  • 3 hours 19 mins
  • 22 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.