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Training with You in Mind

Those with running goals have probably felt conflicted about whether or not they need a coach to get to the finish line. In order to complete a big running goal there is an insane amount of information out there for a runner to rely on to get them soaring over the finish line. You can find free online training plans, many books with training plans depending on your experience, and for a small fee many coaches have pre-made training plans on their websites for purchase. But there is something missing from these plans. Even the most experienced runner or coach can create a training plan and post it online or publish it in a book and it won’t work for you. Why?

Because it doesn’t know you.

Stick with me…

These training plans don’t know you had back surgery. They don’t know that your body holds up when you run 10 minute miles, but falls apart when you start running any faster. There are so many things that online training plans don’t know about you.

It is worth the investment to hire a coach. A physical therapist. A personal trainer. Get a degree in Exercise Physiology. Something to get you safely across the finish line. But I get it, it isn’t always in your budget, and for many you just want to get out and run without over thinking it.

I do feel pretty strongly about investing in coaching for most people, however, my feelings grow stronger if…

  1. You have a chronic injury. Tendonitis, shin splints, runners knee, ect.

  2. You’ve had a major surgery. Back surgery, knee replacement, or foot surgery of some kind.

  3. You’re brand new to running.

If you are new to the sport and you’ve decided to take on a long distance event, I suggest you avoid Googling a training plan. You can run for general health or a couple times a week for fun without stressing a running coach (however, you also don’t need a big goal to work with a coach) but when you start dabbling in distance training, especially above the half marathon distance, I strongly recommend a professional.

Another poor move is to copy your friend. Kelcey, Sam and I all decided to run the same race together. I have a history of being against this kind of thing– but I made it clear to all of them up front that we would do our long run together, and that was it. Our training would need to be tailored to each of our needs! I have seen how running with friends can both injury someone and cause burn out. One friend runs faster than you and therefore you’re never running in the zone prescribed by your coach/training plan. Or you’re not feeling well recovered and your brain tells you to stay home, but you don’t want to let down your friend. These. Things. Happen!

To break it down and give you examples, I have summarized the needs of Kelcey, Sam, and myself. All working towards the same goal, but different ways of getting there.


Information to take into account:

-Back surgeries (plural!)

-Foot surgery

-Shorter running history, but incredibly diligent in her training

-Pushes herself. Sometimes an advantage, sometimes not :)

-Runs Monday-Friday on a treadmill

-Ran a 50k with me in November

-Enjoys running the most

Example of Kelcey’s training plan:

4 weeks out from race:








40 minute Zone 2 Run (easy pace, low heart rate)

1 hour strength training

Threshold Intervals (45 minute run with hard intervals)

​1 hour Run/Walk intervals with incline

Recovery Day/Stretching (Sleeping in!!)

Long Run (20 miles, run/walk style)*

​ Recovery Walk or Hike


Information to take into account:

-Unsure if he would run the 50k or 25k depending on his feet

-In 2020 Sam broke both heels and was in a wheelchair for 12 weeks after having surgery. He had to learn to walk all over again and still walks a little “funny” today. Months of PT required during his recovery. Last year going for a 10 mile hike was a huge victory, followed by his first post injury 5k in July… so the thought of running a 50k was a little out there for him.

-Limited running per week/requires more recovery time

-Enjoys running, hiking, cycling, and strength training

4 weeks out from race:

Example of Sam’s training plan:








Recovery Day Walk

45 minute Bike Intervals

45 minute Run/walk speed intervals

1 Hour Strength Training

1 Hour Bike Ride

20 mile Long Run*

Recovery Day

Brittney (Me!)

Information to take into account:

-Tendonitis in right foot

-Last year’s 50k training resulted in a knee injury. Through that training cycle I learned my knee’s threshold. Anything above 40 accumulative miles a week seemed to aggravate my knee to injury. This meant I needed to find a way to train with less overall volume.

-Ran a 50k in November

-Enjoys a balance of running and strength training

Example of Brittney’s training plan:

4 weeks out from race:








Recovery Day Walk

4 Mile Zone 2 Run + Upper body Strength Training

Run/Walk Speed Intervals (45 minutes)

Full Body Strength Training

6 Mile Zone 2 Run

20 Mile Long Run*

Lower Body Strength Training

* As mentioned in a previous blog post, we decided to do this 50k using the run/walk/run method, aka the Galloway method. We experimented early on with different interval lengths. We tried a 11 minute run/3 minute walk split. Then we tried an 11:30/2:30. And finally a 12/2 split. After all the experimenting we decided that we preferred the 11:30/2:30 split the best and proceeded to do our long runs this way.

Our longest run prior to race day was 22 miles. We had 2 taper weeks before the race, one long run was 10 miles without run/walk intervals, and one was 10 miles with run/walk intervals. We are all feeling really recovered. And now, antsy!

All of this to say, we are running together, and we have done a lot of training together. But our method to get to the event has been very different. We hope to finish together, but even that is too soon to tell! We will eat different foods and drink different flavored water. There are so many things that cannot be the same, even though we all want to finish together.

If you can’t hire a coach or don’t want to:

-Give yourself plenty of time to train. If you're a beginner and looking to run a marathon, allow yourself time to increase your weekly long run 10-15% at a time. That could mean 20-24 weeks of training. Don't forget to factor in extra weeks for recovery and life events (illness, vacation, bad weather)!

-Be prepared for setbacks and be willing to alter course. I know that registering for the event can motivate you to complete it, but it is also a good idea to wait before you pay for an expensive registration to ensure you have time for unexpected events that may arise.

-Train your weaknesses, but also train with your overall goal in mind. We weren't trying to break records and run fast; so I limited speed work! I used a lot of strength training in my program as a way to fatigue my legs outside of just running because just running leads me to overuse injuries every time. I have learned that just because I can't run as many miles in a week as most ultrarunners, that doesn't mean I can't be an ultrarunner. It just means I have to do it differently.

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