Thursday, June 9, 2011

He Said, She Said....the training plan debate

Last night while I was dying during enjoying my weekly LUNA chix community run, and trying to keep up a good pace while still holding a conversation, a fantastic topic came up: comparing your training plan to someone elses' plan.  Running with Julia, we were talking about how it is tough not to look at someone else's training workouts and NOT compare them to your own...even if they are training for an Iron Man, and you are training for a sprint tri or marathon.

This intrigued me, not only because I love competitive type topics, but because I have a tendency to fall into this training pitfall myself.  It is totally human to look at what someone else is doing well and say to yourself that you can do that, or you should be doing that...

As I am looking to finalize my first try at a marathon training plan - I have found myself constantly questioning friends (and even some strangers) about their plans and what they think I need to do and what worked for them. It is good to look for advice, but as I continually try to stress, everybody is different - and what worked for him or her, won't necessarily work for you.
It's like apples and oranges, yes they are similar shapes, but very different fruit Source
While I was thinking of how I wanted to write this, I was reading a great piece from on "Summer Training Tips for Your Fall Marathon".  Well this clearly caught my eye, because I am going to be training through the heat of summer for my first marathon, this fall!  The second paragraph read my mind...
"we all know of friends who report to have lucked out and had a good marathon finish time. But a good marathon is like making a great dessert; it takes the right ingredients, proper preparation, and total precision in the kitchen." 
I am that girl that asks 21 x 200 questions to anyone and everyone about what worked for them in their marathon, how fast they ran (which leads me to believe I should be able to get sub-3 hours on my first marathon because one of Tripp's insane runner friends can run 2:44).  I think the ending of the quote is perfect advice, because well I love dessert, making and eating it, and any type of kitchen references in regards to my workout plan - ok it is because it is SO TRUE! To have a good race, be it marathon, iron man, cycling or swim (I don't branch out much), you need to put in the proper prep for YOU.
Source has numerous workouts and training plans, but they also understand the uniqueness of their readers and their readers needs, they emphasize the individualism in training, and provide tools to build training from, not live by.
"Runners don't need random, isolated workouts; we need individualized, realistic training plans.Amby Burfoot
The dangers of comparing yourself to others can have a lot of detrimental effects on your body, training effort and race (which you undoubtly were psyched to race and paid some dough for).  Constantly comparing your workouts and judging against other's efforts can result in:

  • Injury from over-training or pushing harder than your body can handle
  • Lowered self-esteem and confidence, due to constantly putting yourself down when your times or distances aren't as great as the person next to you
  • A bad race, due to inadequate training or poor pacing
  • Lack of enjoyment from workouts - they become a chore, a dreaded chore

There will ALWAYS be someone, no matter if you are Joe Schmo or Kara Goucher, out there better than you, it is a tough reality, but reality none the less. But what you need to realize is that in this case, you are your own worst enemy....

  • Instead of looking at someone else's training plan, make your own - you can grab ideas and some workouts, but don't force yourself to make their times, and don't hold yourself back from doing better than their times, if it suits YOU
  • Instead of comparing your workout today with the person on the treadmill next to you (guilty as charged) compare yourself to your workout yesterday or the same time last week...but use yourself, because no one else performs on the same level as YOU
Note to self: I am going to make a conscious decision to formulate my training plan to me and what activities I enjoy and the paces I know my body can handle and the number of rest days I know my body needs (although I guess I won't give in to the 5 rest days I really want to take :) )
Happiness and satisfaction come when you are true to yourself and accomplish your goals, not someone else's.
I always am looking at the treadmill next to me, and thinking if they are going 7.8, why am I struggling at 7.2? Or if they are so skinny and eating a salad, maybe I should be eating a salad and I will be that skinny. NO MORE...


Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others around you, be it training or eating or dressing?

All the time, it is a really bad habit I need to break out of steps

Do you create your own workout plans, or copy a friend's or someone online? If you do, do you follow it to the tee?

I am still working on mine, but it will be a mix of what I see online (more for inspiration, not comparison) and it will incorporate cross-training I know I like and that I will make an effort to do and do well...


  1. LOVE this post! I have the same bad habit...I might be doing great for *me*, but then lots of times I'll look at what others are doing...aannnd, that's never good to compare myself with them!

  2. Great post! its definitely hard not to look at what others are doing and compare! I also love the desert & kitchen applicable :D Happy Training! See you for some long runs!


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