One of the questions we are asked the most by runners, both new and experienced, is which training plan is the best—either for a first 5K, a PR at a half, a first marathon or for experienced runners looking to hone their craft. Anyone that has been a member of NBR for a while will be very familiar with this debate on our Google Group twice a year as the spring and fall (or autumn to us Brits) marathon training seasons approach.
The truth of it is that no one plan is perfect for everyone, and that if you have seen success with a plan then that may be the right one for you. We also have many coaches in NBR who would be happy to talk with you about specific goals and can offer recommendations, thoughts, and perhaps even personal coaching if that is something you wish to pursue.
What many of our members do not realize however, is that the foundation for a plan—for most any race distance longer than the mile—exists within our normal weekly schedule.
When examining almost any plan, from Pfitzinger to Jack Daniels to Hansons, there are a few key components that make up the base of all of them:
These are the runs that are done at a conversational pace, often a minute or more slower than a goal marathon pace (MP) and slower still than a goal 10K or half marathon pace. These can be very beneficial to run with a group as it helps keep you honest, sticking to a pace and resisting the urge to speed up if things feel too easy.
The foundation of any plan, these are typically done at an easy pace also, but may incorporate MP (marathon pace) or HMP (half marathon pace) in the later miles as a goal race approaches. These are about building endurance and allowing your body to learn what sustained effort feels like.
Some form of repetitive hard effort for shorter durations, or with periods of complete rest between repeats. These are all about working on form, pushing yourself into an anaerobic territory and learning your limits. The rest periods are to make sure you can recover before another hard effort. These repetitions vary but some form of this is critical to achieving a goal race time or distance.
Here are a few ways you can use the NBR training calendar depending on your goals. Of course, this can be amended however needed. For the full calendar of runs look here—and be sure to join the Google Group to get emails with exact mileage and routes for each workout and see some of our newer (Just Central) or up-and-coming unofficial (DNA, LIC, Just East) sessions!
Couch to 5K
Monday Morning Easy Run at 6:45 am
Wednesday Beginner run at 7:00 pm
Either of these runs, and eventually both, are a great starting point. No pace is left behind and they are highly social runs. Remember, you do not have to finish the whole run if you aren’t there yet, and you could leverage a run/walk strategy to head home (an early version of interval training).
Saturday As these runs become more comfortable, the Saturday Bridge Run at 9:00 am could be a great addition, and is a good opportunity to meet a lot of your fellow runners.
The form run in Prospect Park on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm can be a strong addition to this after you finish your first 5K.
Half Marathon Morning South Runner
Monday Cross train (strength training, cycling or swimming) or join Monday Night Plyo at 6:30 pm
Tuesday Tuesday AM Tempo (Prospect Park) at 6:30 am
Wednesday Just South Road Run (Prospect Park) at 6:30 am
Thursday or Friday Put in some easy pace miles depending on your overall volume needs. Take one of these days off
Saturday or Sunday Narwhals or Sunday Funday Long Run (times for both vary based on the season). As these runs get closer to certain marathons the mileage might be more than you need. Feel free to join and run only the distance you need!
Marathon Evening North Runner
Tuesday Tuesday Night Tempo at 7:30 pm (or run easy, and join Thursday Night Track)
Wednesday Wednesday Night Road Run at 7:30 pm
Thursday Thursday Night Track (7:10 pm for warmups and drills; 7:30 pm workout). Or run easy if you ran Tuesday Night Tempo.
Friday Day off!
Saturday or Sunday Narwhals or Sunday Funday Long Run (times for both vary based on the season). Either is great for a weekend long run. Try a shorter, easy run on the alternate day. If you run the Sunday long run, the Saturday Bridge Run at 9:00 am is a great social NBR run to get some easy miles in with teammates!