Hal Higdon…a GOD in the running world.
His training plans have been used by MILLIONS of people to run successful races.
So it only made sense when I began training for the Whistlestop Marathon that I would use Hal Higdon’s trustworthy, effective plans. If they worked for millions of others they should work for me right???
Maybe I should start by giving you a little history on my running career.
I started running about 5 years ago. I signed up for a 5K and ran/walked it. I was mad I couldn’t run the whole thing and was hooked and determined to run an entire 5K. Then I ran a 7K, then a 10 mile, then a haf marathon, then Ragnar. The list goes on and on.
I NEVER followed a training plan…ever! I would run 1-2 times a week at the most and always cross train with my home workouts. I just knew by X date I had to be able to run X miles. This was my training plan and it aways worked really well for me.
Let me be clear…I am NOT fast. I run about a 9:30 mile for shorter distances, 10-11 for longer distances. Speed isn’t my goal, finishing is! Perhaps if I followed a training plan I would be faster. But I always felt like reginmented plans took the fun out of running and I was successful with my current plan so why mess with it?
Now back to my marathon. I knew this was a huge undertaking. So I made the choice to follow Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan. I work in the schools so I had the summer off to dedicate to my training. I was SO optimistic about what was to come for me with this plan.
I completed week 1 and was slower than I wanted and walking more, but thought I am just getting started it will get better.
Week 2-not much better.
Week 3-still walking, still averaging 12 minute miles.
Week 4-walking, hating running, feeling weak.
How was this possible? I was running FOUR times per week. I was putting in the miles like everyone kept telling me to, but I felt weaker and more defeated than I had ever felt before.
I was SO frustrated and seriously doubting if I had what it took to run 26.2 miles.
Then…I got REALLY sick! I have exercise and cold induced asthma. When I get a resportaory virus it’s bad news for exercise of ANY type. So I had to take a 2 week break from my training plan. WHAT? I already felt awful and now I had to take weeks off?!? There was NO way I would be able to run 26.2 miles by October 15!
I ran Ragnar and struggled despite running more that summer than I had ever run before. It didn’t help that I was still battling my virus.
After Ragnar I did some SERIOUS reflecting. What I was doing wasn’t working. The 2 weeks off of my training plan gave me time to really reflect on how my long runs had been going. The answer was NOT well despite me trying to tell myself they were going well. Despite following Hal Higdon’s plan to the T I was NOT making the progress I wanted to make.
I used to be able to run a half marathon (no walking) and now I could barely make it 6 miles without needing to walk. I felt miserable and weak. Something HAD to change! How could Hal Higdon betray me?!?
So I did it. I broke up with Hal Higdon and the Novice 2 training plan I had so wanted to follow and make work! It was a scary decision but I knew I needed to do it.
I decided to go back to my home workouts that I had very little time to do with Hal Higdon’s training plan since I was running 4 days per week. I decided to cross train 4 days per week and run 1-2 days per week (basically the exact opposite of Hal Higdon). I would keep the long runs in my training plan.
WHY? Cross training increases my strength and endurance a in a way that running cannot do.
For the first 2 years of my running career I did not do much cross training and running was very hard for me. Then I started cross training more and not only did I get faster but I lost weight. Something I had been unable to do while running.
I felt AMAZING! I was running faster than I ever had and running FARTHER than I ever had and LOVING every minute of it!
I was 2 months out from my FIRST marathon and for the first time I really felt like I could do it. I could run 26.2 miles and live to tell about it. That’s an AMAZING feeling!
I am sitting here typing this FOUR days before my marathon. About the only feeling that will be MORE amazing is being able to say I did it!
So to all of you out there struggling with Hal Higdon-it’s OK to break up. It’s OK to not do what everyone else is doing. You gotta do what works for you.
To those of you doubting yourself let me tell you that is NORMAL! I seriously considered decreasing to a half marathon at least 10 times during training.
But the most important thing to remember…DON’T GIVE UP! It wil be hard. You will doubt yourself. But you can do it.
So tell me what training plan did you use for your first marathon?