7 Questions to Help Choose Your Training Plan

Well, I made the leap. Today I'm linking up with the #fitfam at the Fit Dish link-up and I've got some news to share!

After much prayer and contemplation, I signed up for a September half marathon which will be my first long-distance race after having our Baby #2. I like to sign up early because the race fee is significantly cheaper, it gives me motivation to make healthy choices while pregnant/postpartum and I have time to make babysitter arrangements (Thanks, Grandma!).

The week that I found out I was pregnant again, I had just ran the Wild Hog Half Marathon and I'm excited to return again this year! The race was awesome, the course is flat and it's super close to home for us.

Since I am now committed to a fall 13.1, that means it's time to think of a plan.

When choosing a full or half marathon training plan, I usually use a free training plan and modify it to fit me personally. For this race, I plan to use a modified version of Hal Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon Plan which has worked great for my past two half's.

Whatever type of plan you use, it is important to use a training plan that fits your lifestyle, time availability and your race goals. Here are the questions I ask myself when working on a half or full marathon training plan:

1. How many days do I plan to run?

- I'm planning to run 4 to 5 days a week. It all depends on how much of a sleeper our Baby #2 is and how we adapt as a family of four. Training plan flexibility is key for me!

2. How many days will I strength train or cross train?

- Planning for at least 2 days of strength training. My marathon training in the past has lacked strength training in the past and I know this will help to decrease burn out and keep me injury-free.

3. What will the weather be like in training?

- Training over the summer and early fall. No more excessive clothes-layering and Yaktrax-wearing!

4. Where will I be training?

- Mostly early morning runs outdoors for key workouts. I will likely be out with the double jogger for "easy" run days when Baby #2 is old enough to ride along. The treadmill is always there as a backup and my only option for hill training workouts (Thank God for treadmills!).

5. What will be my starting fitness level?

- My fitness level will rely on how the third trimester of this pregnancy goes. We can assume that I will be running low on sleep and very hungry from adjusting to breastfeeding again! As long as my midwife gives me the OK, I will continue running and strength training regularly through the pregnancy. That helped immensely with my first pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

6. How many weeks do I plan to train?

- 12 weeks of "official" training. After Baby arrives, I am going to take my time to recover and gradually run/walk my way into training again.

7. What is my goal for this race - time goal or other?

- I don't want to have a set time goal for this race because there are so many unknowns in postpartum recovery and while adjusting to the toddler + newborn life. Ideally, I would like to finish under 2 hours but but my focus is to take it one run at a time. My main goal: HAVE FUN!

I'm curious to see how running with a double-jogger will go this year! Single- or double-jogger, I do think that running with a jogging stroller counts as a cardio workout and strength training :)

Specific Training Plan Components

Hal Higdon includes the below specific workouts in his training plans. For more detailed definitions, visit his website here. If you are unsure of your appropriate training paces, calculate them using the McMillan Pace Calculator.

  • Easy Run - Run at a comfortable, conversational pace. 
  • Hill - Run interval on a hill of 200 to 400 meters in length with a jogging or walking break of equal distance between each repeat. Hill train to strengthen quads and build speed.
  • Speedwork - Train fast to race rast! Start with 400-meter repeats and increase to 800- and 1600-meter repeats in the later weeks of training. Walk or jog between repeats.
  • Tempo Runs - A continuous run with a build-up to your 10k pace. 
  • Pace - Race pace workout.
  • Long Runs - Run at a comfortable pace and don't get hung up on the miles covered or your speed. Focus on spending time on your feet. 
  • Long Run 3/1 - Run the first three-quarters of the distance at a comfortable pace and excellerate to near-race pace in the last one-quarter of the workout. 

How do you choose your training plan?
What is your favorite type of workout to do?

Linking up with Fitness Friday and the Fit Dish. #dishthefit


  1. Go get 'em AMY! You look like a running stud, and such great tips!!! This is a great resource that I will be using. I have used a double jogger, and the first two weeks for me were tough, and I had to keep ignoring my pace, because it was discouraging, but after that, I developed some awesome muscles, and it wasn't so bad. Great job setting yourself up for success! Take care!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I definitely need to keep up the strength training in preparation for pushing a double jogger! Ignoring the pace will be very important for me. Even learning to run with a single jogger was an adjustment! I look forward to having double-jogger mom muscles some day :)

  2. I choose my plan exactly how you suggest. I wish I would have had this list when I started running. Oh, the rookie runner mistakes are laughable :)

    1. I wish I would have had this list back when I was training for my first marathon, too! Each race I seem to find a new kind of running mistake to make :) Live and learn, I guess!

  3. Congrats on baby #2! I haven't actually used a training plan before and am considering training for my first half in the near future, so I'll keep these in mind! Thanks!

    1. Thank you! The Hal Higdon plans are my favorite because of his clear explanations of each type of run... and the free part, too :)

  4. Awesome! You are such a running rockstar for figuring out a plan to far in advance. Congrats on the 2nd baby. What an exciting time.


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