And Now… The Training Plan… Oooh!

Libby completing her first trail race at the Grasslands Half Marathon on March 20, 2011.

First, a recap of the past week… my highest total mileage of the year was reached: 27.8 miles. I feel comfortably adapted to a 13 mile long run after the last handful of weekends. And Saturday I ran my first trail race, Grasslands Half Marathon. Here’s my race report as it was a hard race and I learned quite a lot in doing it!

And now, the cornerstone of every marathon training season, the training plan (insert dramatic music). I’ve attached my training plan here…

I’m an RRCA-certified running coach, but only recently so… like in the last month. I’ve developed training plans and programs for others over the years but now have a certification with my name. Before that distinction, but now especially with it, comes the disclaimer that this is a plan for myself – based on my physiological and mental situation as a runner. One size does not fit all.

With this being my first marathon, my plan has a slow increase in both total weekly mileage and the long run. I’ve made it long enough of a schedule to include stepback weeks in later parts of the plan. In other words, when I climb to a newest longest long run, I’ll back off the next week to a shorter long run to allow some recovery.

This plan includes 1-2 rest days a week. This plan is focused on running miles because I’m a mom of two children, one of which is an infant. While cross-training is always ideal, I’ll work in some strength training, i.e. squats, lunges, and balance-and-reach exercises where I can.

My longest long run before race day will be 20 miles. Some plans go to 18 miles, some to 20, and some take you to a training run of the full 26.2 mile distance. For my physiology, I feel doing more than 20 would do more harm to my body than good, and less than 20 would not make me comfortable mentally for tackling 26.2.  I will actually be doing two 20-mile runs in this training plan. Part of this design is because again, I’m a mom.  My time is not always my own. Sometimes life gets in the way. If all goes well, the second 20-miler will be a mental milestone of preparation more than physiological, establishing confidence as I’m still nervous of the 26.2 mile distance. If life happens, I get sick, or one of my kids get sick, and the plan gets delayed, I’m not completely off track. I will use that week then as my sole 20-mile long run and still be prepared for race day!

Note everything is subject to change. And while it’s important to mix up your hard days and easy days through the week, the order I follow may not end up being what’s written in the schedule. Another result of just being a mom – you make due with the time you have.

So I want to know, what’s your training plan look like? Give me your blog link, talk it out, and I think it will be interesting to do a roundup discussion of everyone’s plans!

Meanwhile, I have a half marathon (Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon) and 27.1 miles this week to accomplish. Keep up with me over the week – I hope my training keeps you motivated, but in turn your training will keep me motivated as well!


Libby Jones has been running for 5 years, is a self-described “serial half-marathoner”, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is also an active part of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community.  She is the Founder and Race Director of the New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Allen, Texas; the Executive Race Director for Heels and Hills, a non-profit geared towards getting women fit and active; the North Texas State Representative for the Road Runners Club of America; past Dallas Running Club President & 2008 RRCA Scott Hamilton National Outstanding Club President Award Winner; and an RRCA-certified running coach. She’s also a wife to Steve and a mother to Marissa (3 yrs) and Sophie (3 1/2 months).  Read her blog “The Active Joe” and follow her on Twitter @libbyruns