Let’s be clear about this from the very first sentence: I am not an expert or a coach. I make my own training plans because I have (sort of) figured out what I like and what works for me, but most of what I do doesn’t really fall into the category of conventional running wisdom. This is the story of my very first training plan and you would be a damn fool to follow any of it!
Once upon a time, about five years ago, I started running. And pretty much as soon as I could run two consecutive miles, I decided to enter a race. Running just for fun and weight loss didn’t really float my boat; I wanted to get out there and compete! Without a finish line waiting for me, there was no real purpose in hitting the streets. Trust me, I had no illusions of being fast or even good at running, I’m just a really goal-driven girl.
I ran my first “mile” (okay, it was really only about a half-mile, but at the time – before I mapped things on USATF, before I had a Nike+ and waaaaaaay before I owned a Garmin – I thought it was a mile. It felt like ten miles, but that might have been the extra 30 pounds I was lugging around) on September 14, 2006. I launched immediately into “running” five days a week. I have to put it in quotes. I have to. Here’s the mental picture for you: I was wearing a pair of sweatpants from Walmart, a free T-shirt from the ASPCA, sneakers from Payless Shoe Source and trudging along on the sidewalks staring at my feet and wondering if I could literally die from running so hard. That deserves quote marks, you can’t deny it.
By early 2007, I had stepped things up a little, buying my first pair of running shoes and a few pieces of wicking clothing. I could run two miles (which, as it turned out, wasn’t really two miles at all, but whatever) a few days a week and I was thinking about stretching it out to three miles, but I wasn’t sure if I could spend that much time away from the house in the mornings (even Big Boy was still pretty little back then). In February, I started kicking around the idea of entering a race. IronHubs and I decided to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in May, but the ink had barely dried on the entry form before I wanted more. By late March I was up to 3- and 4-mile runs and IronHubs felt the lure of the race as keenly as I did, so we decided to go straight for the big time: The Bay to Breakers.
Did we have any idea at all what were doing? No. Not even a little bit. Did that stop me? Of course not! Apparently, it did not occur to me to find a training plan on the internet, which seems pretty silly in retrospect, but I don’t think we even subscribed to Runner’s World yet, so what did I know? In early April, I sat down at the computer and scratched out my very first training plan.
I was so excited about my plan, I blogged about it on Myspace (OMG, remember Myspace?? All I ever blogged about was running, go figure). I apparently still have a profile there, because I just now logged in for the first time in almost three years so that I could share with you my scintillating blog post from April 5, 2007:
Current mood: Determined
A few months ago, these crazy words crossed my lips: "I'm going to run the Bay to Breakers this year." Seemed like a good idea at the time, I was pretty serious but vague about it. In February, I mentioned to my mom and my sister (who I usually WALK the B-2-B with) that I'm thinking about running this year. They both took me at my word and started talking about it like a done deal.
So, now it's six weeks until the big day and I've realized that I better get my butt cracking if I'm really going to do this. I've been running regularly since last September and do about four miles most days, but the B-2-B is over seven miles and it has a big ass hill in the middle of mile 2 - yikes!
This is the part of the story where you get a little peek at exactly how anal I can be: I sat down at the computer last night and made up a calendar of the days between now and May 20th and figured out exactly which days I'll run and how many miles I'll go and which course I'll take (because I have to get some hill training in there, too).
This is starting to seem like sort of a big deal now. I'm really gonna do it!
Check me out, running 20 mile weeks back in the day. I don’t even do that now.
There are a few things that stand out to me about this training plan:
- All the distances are preceded by the “~” symbol, so I must have figured out by that point that my distances weren’t
even close to what I thoughtexact.
- Damn, I ran a lot! Mileage-wise and five-days-a-week-wise.
- This was before I knew what cross-training was – check out all those days that just say “off.”
- Or tapering. Seriously, I ran three days in a row before the race?
- It’s so cute that the week starts with Sunday. I made this plan in Publisher with a real calendar.
- There is no mention whatsoever of the Susan G. Komen race, which was May 12th that year. Thus beginning a long line of training plans that did not get followed in their entirety!
- As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind this plan. The dominant theme seems to be “Don’t run the same distance two days in a row.” Solid thinking.
- There also doesn’t seem to be a real goal for this race, other than finishing. I don’t remember aiming for a certain time, but –being me – I’m sure I had something in mind that didn’t make it onto paper.
- I totally remember hanging this plan on the refrigerator and feeling like a real runner. Crossing off the day’s workout still holds as much satisfaction for me today as it did back then.
- I don’t recall spending any time at all doing post-race analysis of the plan. I got to the finish line, so it must’ve been okay, right?
Coming soon: Part Two – Learning to Plan my Work and Work my Plan