Creating a Custom Training Plan from a Free Download

Running, Training Tips

Hey Guys! I figured on Tuesday’s I will try and provide some training tips. While to some these might seem like “common” ideas and knowledge to alot of new runners I know it can seem foreign. Before I hired a coach in 2015 (Lauren Floris) to create a custom plan for me in hope of Boston Qualifying I had no clue how a plan should be organized. However, after 2 Custom Plans and tons of research on the topic it became more second nature and now I am coaching my own athletes to new heights. I know some of you cannot afford coaching and so I figured I would give you a quick starter guide on how to create a plan from a generic free template.

Step 1: Find a Plan 

  • From the starts of my first marathon I have always gone to Hal Higdon as a means of finding GREAT starter plans from the 5K to Marathon Distance. He does include workouts in the intermediate/advanced plans if you are interested, but I am going to choose the Novice 1 Plan for this demonstation as I think this blog will be most helpful to new runners.
  • The Novice 1 Run Plan just lists out basic mileage for running with cross and rest day listed no real paces or guidelines. I am going to show you how to beef it up a little bit to make it more tailored to you. A running base is crucial to success and that involves alot of easy miles but I think adding in some strength/speed workouts can be valuable if kept at low percentage of the volume and gradually introduced.

Step 2: Break the 18 Week Plan down into Phases 

  • Weeks 1-4: Base Training
  • Weeks 5-8: Building Phase
  • Weeks 9-15: Core/Peak Training Phase
  • Weeks 16-18: Taper

Step 3: Define Each of the Phases and Define Their Purpose and Stimulus

  • Weeks 1-4: Base Training PhaseThis Phase is geared towards building a base for which your marathon success is laid. You can’t put a roof on a house until the groundwork is laid and the same goes with running. This phase is made of “boring” miles as most would say and is not “glamorous” on instagram. This time is spent at 1-2 min/mile slower than GMP (Goal Marathon Pace) and at a HR of less than 180-Age. Basically Zone 2 for Life 🙂
  • Weeks 5-8: Building PhaseThis Phase is where you start introducing a stimulus and then perfect it.
    • For the Novice 1 Plan I suggested adding a Tempo Run onto every Wednesday at GMP or GMP – 10 seconds. In weeks 5&6 it would look something like 1M Easy – 3T @ GMP – 1M Easy for 5M Total and in Weeks 7&8 you would build on that and make is 1E – 4T @ GMP – 1E for 6M Total. The gradual introduction and build allows you to gain confidence and skill at a pace you intend to hold for 26.2 Miles
  • Weeks 9-15: Core/Peak PhaseThis is the phase where training gets more intense and the work is really put in and the “gains” are really made in a training cycle.
    • For the Novice 1 Plan I suggested having 2 “quality” workouts per week – On Tuesdays I suggested Speed Work and Thursdays Tempo Work.
    • Examples of Speed Work:
      • Week 9&10: 3M – 1M Easy – 6×400 @ 10K Pace with 400R Jog – 1M Easy
      • Weeks 11-14: 4M – 1M Easy – 4×800 @ GM Time with 400R Jog – 1M Easy
        • For Example: If your GM Time is 3:30 each 800 should be at 3:30 or 7:00 min/mi Pace
      • Weeks 14&15: 5M – 1M Easy – 5 x 1M @ HMP with 1 Min Rest – 1M Easy
    • Examples of Tempo Work: Add a 0.5M to 1M warmup and cooldown to the miles listed. Alternate one week at GMP for Tempo and the other week a progression run starting at GMP and working down to HMP throughout the tempo.
  • Week 16-18: Taper PhaseThis is the hardest phase for runners. The Mileage cuts back and they feel they are “loosing fitness” but the key is to lessen the volume but keep the intensity.
    • For this phase I suggest adding in a tempo run to wednesday and if you are feeling peppy you can also add in tempo miles into your long run. All of the tempo efforts should be at GMP. The key at this phase of the training is to rest your body/legs but also teach them to remember the pace you want to run on race day.

Obviously this is a very generic idea but I hope it is helpful if you are searching for something that can help you without having to spend a ton of money. If you are intested in paces for workouts/easy runs you can find my blog post on that HERE and you can also check out my instastories on instagram :). If you are interested in Coaching you can find more information HERE or you can contact me below.

With Love and Training,

❤ Kindal