Training Plan Whore

I’m a training plan whore – I love writing training plans! No seriously I really love it! Once I know I’ve signed up to an event, my palms get sweaty at the mere thought that I will soon be able to start designing my training plan. Why o why would you love that I hear you say? I’m not sure, maybe I’m a planning nerd, maybe its motivating for me, if I set it out I know I’m going to do it or maybe it just makes whatever madcap dream I now have feel realisable. Whatever it is, it feels like the starting point of a new adventure to me.

I’ve written quite a few plans now and would consider myself reasonably good at it 😆. I will generally start by looking online or in books for ready made plans and then change it to suit me, my strengths and weaknesses, my available time and finally build in lots of buffer weeks* to allow for injury/getting ill/holidays. It’s also essential to be mindful it has to be as flexible as a Yogi in a Ashtanga class, as you will never be able to stick to it religiously all of the time and it would be like watching paint dry to do so. Mind you being a spreadsheet nerd, flexing it about is half the fun for me 😆.

*Buffer Weeks: If the set training plan is 20 weeks I’ll make mine 24 weeks. I generally add 4 weeks but might add more if the training plan is longer. I insert buffer weeks at intervals or keep them spare on the side (as you wish). If you don’t need to use them then just do week 5 (for example) twice. If you are poorly and cant do anything for a week but weep under your duvet about missing your training then hey presto use a buffer week or two, do some easy training in the second week and then go back to your training plan thereafter. In this way you are not going back to something that has moved on too much from before and thus you don’t risk making yourself ill again by getting back into it too soon. So thats my buffer theory, adopt it or not as you will, but its a useful tool option in the planners box.

So this last year I was working my way through Lorna’s Ironman plan which was loosely based on the Fink competitive plan as a starting point but I switched it up to include more strength work, more cycling and less swimming as this meant I would spend more time working on my weakest areas. There is simply no need for me to swim for 3 hours a week. The marginal gain of 10 minutes on the swim isn’t worth it. When it comes to the bike, however, additional TITS and I’ll cut my Ironman bike ride by 30-45 minutes, possibly more.

I’ve also learnt that I can make a big step up in my swimming/cycling mileage without running the risk of ending up on someone’s physio table whining about aches and pains. Running, however, is SO different for me. If I miss a run or increase my running by more than 5-10% volume per week my Achilles, hip, back or some other new part of me with a long name I never heard of before will say hey ‘what the hell are you doing?’ and stop me in my tracks.

I realise not everyone is like this (my husband can run 10 miles in one week, 20 in the next with nothing more than tired legs – not an injury in sight) and I envy that but for me I stick to this rule like a fruit fly in honey. Experience has taught me if I ignore this and go oh I’ll be fine I’ll just do this extra 5 miles; I’ll end up bathing my feet in ice, booking in for a massage and moaning yet again that I didn’t listen to my own advice 😝.

The odd thing is missing running and going back to it suddenly can be just as detrimental to me as doing too much. It’s as if my feet/ankles say “hey I thought you’d stopped this prancing uphills lark? You are not in fact the hoppity skippity mountain goat you’d like to think you are, chill your boots please.”

I’m hoping in the future to increase my running days to 4/5 days week as not only will this be the minimal requirement for Ultra training (we can’t all just slide in on a shrimp sandwich – Swedish saying for having things given to you without working for them) but I believe it may also help reduce injury for me. Ironically I believe that more constant motion will make my body adapt and be less ‘shocked’ or seen another way spread the heavy weekly mileage over more days. This is the theory I’ll let you know how it pans out 🤔. Ice buckets at the ready…

Since I’ve now decided that next year will be the year of Ultras but I still want to do the Olympic triathlon I signed up to; I will need to come up with a new plan that focuses on trail running and building up my running miles. However, I will need to balance this with the need to don my wetsuit and go Buoy dodging occasionally as well as keep up my cycling without the risk of burnout. This may be a tricky balance but I look forward to the challenge of planning it. I am giddy with excitement already, bring me my spreadsheet, a mug of tea and some chocolate digestives; I’m ready…. 😁👏.

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