my no plan training plan

Every race I’ve trained for in the past, I’ve mapped out a training plan far in advance.  I like direction in pretty much everything I do, so I tend to use pre-written training plans, usually a Hal Higdon plan.  I absolutely love knowing exactly what workout I’m doing every day for the duration of my plan.  It keeps my stress levels down and I ultimately know that I’ll be completely prepared for my race in the end.

However, this year I wanted to try something different.  I tend to get bored very easily.  For example, I sang my praises for New Rules of Lifting for Women last week.  Yet, this week, I was craving something different and incorporated a few CrossFit workouts instead of the NROLFW plan.  I need a bit of variety in my life to keep me motivated.

As I train for the half marathon in April, I’ve decided to follow a “no plan” training plan.  Instead of mapping out my workouts for the next 4 months, I am going to be planning my workouts on a weekly basis, allowing much more flexibility in my plan – something that seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life these days.

There are 3 workouts that I must include each week because I feel they are the most important workouts if I want to achieve my training goals of increasing my speed + endurance.  Each week must include 1 speed workout (intervals, repeats, hills, etc.), 1 tempo run, and 1 long run.  Three workouts minimum each week.  By only including 3 essential workouts, I take a lot of stress off myself with my training.  Since I am much busier with work + being a mama, I know that it’s going to be a little bit harder to train like I used to.  If my schedule permits, I’ll still run 5 days a week, adding in 2 easy runs ranging from 3 to 5 miles, but I know that this won’t always be possible.  As long as I get those 3 essential runs in, I will be happy.

Here’s an example of what my week might look like:









easy run

speed workout

easy run + lift


long run

tempo run


I’m excited to have a bit more variety in my workouts and to really plan my workouts to be what I like to do, instead of a cookie cutter plan that might not be the best for me.  While my goal is not to PR in April, I hope that I will at least get my speeds to where they used to be and hope to PR in the fall.

Do you use pre-written training plans like Hal Higdon or Runner’s World?  Have you ever made your own training plan?

And can you help me stay motivated to do NROLFW?  Right now, it’s just way too easy for my liking, but hopefully I’ll get passed that!


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  • I am training for my first half marathon right now, so I’ve created a plan for myself. I’ve only planned 3 days of running for myself each week, and 1 day of cross training, which could be anything I feel like doing. The other days are either rest, yoga/pilates, or a light walk.
    Caroline recently posted..Half Marathon Week 1 Training Recap

  • Have you heard of the FIRST training plan from the Runner’s World book “Run Less, Run Faster?” It sounds very similar. It focuses on quality of miles over quantity of miles, and includes 3 key runs a week (speedwork, tempo, and long run) with 2 days of cross-training in between (or easy running if you prefer). You can read more info about it here:

    I have used this plan twice when training for a marathon. It helped me take over 8 minutes off my PR. They also have half marathon plans too. I loved it because my legs never felt burned out and they always felt fresh, so I’d be prepared to put all my effort into each of the key runs. I would definitely recommend checking out the book!
    Katie recently posted..Getting Faster

  • Love it! I have done plans like that where I just know the basic workout format and it does work!
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..An Interval Workout Gold Mine

  • Those workouts are definitely the crux of a good plan, as I’m sure you know. Let me know if you want a running plan with weekly coaching and injury advice, maybe it would help with the boredom and I can adjust weekly with your schedule. You can fill out questionnaire form right on my website under “Running.” Ironically, I’m having to undertake the same 3-4 day training plan just to get caught up from the holidays, baby, business etc..I’m hopeful it will only be for a few months but at least the legs will feel good for the workouts.

  • In college I was under my coach’s plan, but now I am loving knowing what I need each week but getting to choose my workout on a day to day basis!

  • Amy

    I recently read an article by Jeff Galloway that suggested fewer training runs per week, so I think your plan sounds like a good one. I worry about overuse injuries, so three runs per week using your plan gets you what you need without sacrificing training goals.
    Amy recently posted..Snow Day & Ice Cleats

  • i trained for the chicago marathon using a similar plan (only 3 days of running) and i never got hurt during training! i definitely think this is a good way to go!

    …and once you get into longer runs, if you want a buddy let me know!!! i’m sick of running by myself!
    natalie (the sweets life) recently posted..Chocolate Liqueur Ice Cream

    • Kristen

      Yes, definitely! I’m doing 6 this weekend, so I’m getting closer to a little longer runs!