When Should You Change Your Training Plan?

Whether you run marathons, half marathons, or 5ks, training is essential if you want to do well. But what do you do when you continuously train and your results are still the same?

That’s what was happening to me. I trained for marathon after marathon but was not running the times I had hoped to run. Yes, during some of those training cycles I was dealing with injuries, but I wasn’t hurt during every training cycle. So I started to think about what could be the cause for my stagnant progress.

When I thought about it, I realized I have been using the same plan for years. It’s not that it was a bad plan. It was actually a good plan, one that worked well for quite some time. However, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting the results to be different. I had outgrown my training plan and I needed a change. I needed a plan that fit the runner I am now, not the runner I was 5 years ago.

So when my good friend Katie offered to make me a training plan for the Chicago Marathon I gladly accepted. The new plan was different from my previous plan in a few ways:
1. Longer intervals during speed work (800s-mile repeats).
2. A greater number of 20/20+ mile long runs, while including more marathon pace miles during those long runs. Running 20 miles/20+ miles is important because the body gets a chance to see what it feels like to be running for such a long period of time. It’s important to run at least one of your training runs over 20 miles because many people experience “hitting the wall” at that point during a race.
3. More longer distance tempo runs
4. Higher weekly mileage.

My body responded well to my new training. I was fitter than I had been in a long time (arguably ever) and the results proved it. I ran the Chicago Marathon 3 weeks ago in 3:20:45, a 4 minute PR.  I hadn’t PRed in a marathon since The New York City Marathon in 2009, 5 years prior!

So how should YOU decide if it’s time to change up your training? Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
1. Are you injury free? If yes, then proceed.
2. Have you been using the same plan for a while without changing anything?
3. Is your goal realistic?
4. Are you unhappy with your results?
5. Do you feel discouraged?

If you answered yes to some or all questions, it might be time to explore other options. There are a ton of training plans out there so you’ll need to experiment and see which one works best for you!

Dani has a passion for running, teaching, and living a healthy lifestyle. She is a runner for the Central Park Track Club, a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and a pilates instructor at Power Pilates in Midtown East, Manhattan. Dani is also a Board Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). Check out her blog at www.danisturtz.com, twitter-@danisturtz and instagram- @danisturtz