I’m a man with a plan.
You don’t accomplish big goals by winging it. Improvisation, flexibility, and instinct all have their place in the day-to-day realities, but to make it to the end requires a plan. I have a plan.
First, we break the goal down. 2017 miles in one year comes out to around 5.5 miles a day, or 38.5 miles for a 7 day week. Let’s try to see what a typical week can look like, and then we can use that template as a starting place to train for specific races as we slot them in. Races will generate excitement, act as milestones, and give me a chance to run with others and celebrate.
A minimum commitment
When researching how to plan a running goal like this, I asked the folks over at the Darebee.com Hive (their forums) and a gentleman from Germany, .robert, chimed in with some great advice. He says:
“Set yourself a weekly distance minimum. It should be not too long. You should be able to reach this even in the most stressful weeks. It should be the absolute minimum, but also high enough that it helps you reach your goals. I would say around 30k, so you will have already the half of your goal if you only run the minimal distance each week.”
That’s sounds like a great place to start a plan. 30 kilometers comes out to about 18.6 miles a week. Let’s call it 18.5 to make math easier. So we’ll set that as our bare minimum. Making the commitment to hit that EVERY WEEK.
Remember your surroundings
Next, let’s look as some considerations so we know how to hit that. I have one or two days off most weeks, and I have some scheduling flexibility with my work. There is also some inflexibility, in that there are certain tasks that are time-locked and require or greatly benefit from my presence. Looking at that, my best regular window for runs are in the mornings, before work becomes a factor. I also can leave early on certain days and have noon or later events I run on others. This opens up the occasional later run.
My favorite local running spot is Wildwood Metropark. It’s located close to home, and the Metroparks of Toledo are amazingly well-kept and developed. They open at 7am and close at sunset. I can also do street running at any time, but I prefer to be away from active roads and all those hazards whenever possible.
Allowing for time to set-up devices and cool down after a run, we can calculate a rough time of 10 minutes for every mile I run. That means a 6-mile run should take me about an hour from the time I arrive at the park to the time I am leaving. That seems like a good place to start filling in what a week might look like. Let’s plan on Monday and Wednesday morning each being a 6-mile run.
|7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run|
That’s looking good already. In two scheduled runs, two hours each week, I’m 2/3rds of the way to the minimum. But, I am going to need to push a lot higher than 18 each week to make it to 2017.
I typically work a late shift on Fridays, which makes that an ideal day for a weekly long-run if I don’t have a race that week. Most races are on Saturday, and my work schedule can leave some Saturdays loaded and others empty. So, Friday it is, and race weeks will need some adjustment as we approach them.
How long should the default long-run aim at? My longest run to-date is a three hour training run, and anything above that gets into race territory and will require a special rest schedule to follow it. I plan to do at least one marathon this year, so there will be opportunities to give it my all.
Since I am very comfortable these days doing one-hour standard runs, let’s double that. Equating to an estimated 12 miles, we can add that to Friday in the typical schedule.
|7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||8a – 10a: 12-mile Long Run|
Not bad. Now, to hit my mark, I need to make 38.5 miles per week. But here .robert had some more advice we should consider:
“Expect the unexpected. Try to reach the goal in 11 months. You will need these 4 extra weeks because of sickness, etc.”
Alright, then let’s revisit the math. 2017 divided by 48 weeks, rather than 52, brings us to 42 miles per week. That’s not quite double what we have already…
Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything
One of my pleasures last summer was a Wednesday afternoon run between work when I could get out early and a regular evening social meeting with some friends. Let’s cut it a little short so I have time to deal with traffic and clean up to be where I need. 40 minute run will give me 4 miles for a total of 10 on Wednesdays.
Before we update the typical week plan, there are four empty days. I’ll likely want at least one day off per week, but I can slot another 6 mile day in before work on Sunday pretty easy since it is short in the afternoon. I could even move it to the evening of Sunday if needed. Adding those makes it look like this.
|7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run
5p – 6p: 4-mile Evening Run
|8a – 10a: 12-mile Long Run|
Still about 8 miles shy of the 42 miles weeks needed to do the 2017 in 11 months. To address that, we can take in one more run of a more medium length on Tuesday. That’s a day off for me frequently, so it’s a good fit for something that takes a bit more time and I can start a little later, sleeping in an hour. Let’s make it 90 minutes for another 9 miles.
|7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run||8a – 9:30a: 9-mile Run||7a – 8a: 6-mile Morning Run
5p – 6p: 4-mile Evening Run
|8a – 10a: 12-mile Long Run|
That hits the mark and over shoots by 1 mile! Now, with this template week, we can modify up or down to accommodate the bumpy flow of life. When I am bubbling over with energy, I can add in a Saturday run. If I find that I adapt to this schedule really well, I could add quick 3-mile runs to one or both blank days. Perhaps I’m not feeling well, I can chop out a day or trim it back. Finally, I can set about designing programs of increase and tapers for my biggest races.
I’ll talk about some of the races I’m already signing up for and eyeballing soon. Right now, I have my eye on Sunday morning, January 1st. I’ve got a long night at work for New Year’s Eve, but feel real excited to get out and log that first run! If you live in the Toledo, OH area, you can join me, to help ring in the new year on our feet. You can checkout the Facebook Event I made and tell me what kind of donuts to bring.