Am I Smarter Than My Training Plan?

Am I, a seventeen year old girl with minimal running experience more educated (in terms of running) than Hal Higdon, designer of arguably the most popular half and full marathon training plans, columnist on Runner’s World and a casual 2:21 marathoner?

I don’t think so.

Even though it’s only the start of week two of my half marathon training, I’ve already largely ignored Hal’s plan. I skipped my run on Friday afternoon (it’s only three miles, right?), did a 6 mile run instead of 4 miles, and though I strength trained, did no cross training (ie. biking).

When I recapped my first week of half training I did it Saturday-Friday, but I’m going to start thinking in terms of a normal week, so Monday-Sunday. So my five mile run from week “one” of half training was actually on the Sunday before my plan started – does that make sense?

Yesterday I had an absolutely gorgeous run. I started off with a slow and easy mile (as in, I’m sort of hoping my Garmin was off type of slow) and then maintained a pretty even pace until I got hit with a burst of energy and some fantastic songs and finished another mile strong.


These were my splits:

Mile 1: 10:44

Mile 2: 8:17

Mile 3: 8:11

Mile 4: 8:14

Mile 5: 8:12

Mile 6: 7:53

Average pace of 8:34 min/mile. I honestly could have kept going! But I reigned myself in and thought logically. Yes, I could probably crank out 1-2 more miles and feel like an absolute badass for the rest of the day. But then what? Would I skip my run on Monday and possibly Tuesday? Likely. I might want to run on Wednesday and/or Thursday, but my schedule doesn’t allow that. I could run on Friday, but considering how hectic my weeks have been lately, I usually just want to pass out the moment I get home. And unless I want to have zero free time on Saturday (I work most of the day) a run isn’t happening then, either. So then BOOM, there you have a week with ONE run, all because I felt I was smarter than my training plan.

I feel okay with the fact that I did six miles yesterday, because my general base is about five miles and it doesn’t make sense to go down one for my “long” run. I will keep my long run at six miles until the plan tells me to increase. Happy running base + happy knees = successful half marathon!

I think it’s hard to stick to a plan when so many people in the blogworld say things like “I was only supposed to run three miles today but I felt great so I pulled off a ten-miler!” or “Today was my rest day but I was just so energetic so I ellipticalled for 90 minutes!”


You guys know what I’m talking about. Those people that always seem to feel “energetic”, that rarely take rest days (I’m sorry, cross-training and “active rest” are NOT rest days!) and basically exercise, or say that they exercise, 938234x per week at a high intensity.

It’s one thing to shuffle a long run for scheduling purposes or deciding to make your easy run a long run for the week, but adding in tons of extra intensity without changing something else is just asking for an injury in my opinion.

I’m totally new to the magical land of formal training plans so please feel free to tell me if I’m totally off-base. But my experience with my knee injuries and the theme of over-exercising that is so common on blogs is what makes me feel this way.

If you have a training plan, follow it. If you’re exercising for you, listen to both your mind and your body. End.

Any (similar or different) thoughts/experiences on the matter? 


4 thoughts on “Am I Smarter Than My Training Plan?

  1. Emma I totally agree that some bloggers over exercise. When I come across a blog like that, I never ever bookmark it to read again. I can’t. It is SO unhealthy. As for your training plan, you know your body. Sure, Hal Higdon knows what he is talking about, but he wrote that plan for the masses, not YOU. If you know your body and thoughtfully tweak your program, there is nothing wrong with that.

    • I might not have been clear enough in this post – in all that I’ve posted about my half marathon, I have always been saying that I will listen to myself and prevent injuries. I’m mostly referring to my brain here – it thinks it can do more than it actually can, and then my body has to deal with the consequences. Thank you though!

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