"Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn't going to get the job done."
When it comes down to it, picking a training plan really does not matter.
As long as it fits into your schedule and gets you running, you will likely reap great fitness gains.
Most new athletes can improve their running times and distances with any decent plan. The majority of them are fairly similar. They all help guide the athlete to faster and longer running.
In a recent New York Times blog post, a runner recounted her training for the New Jersey Marathon. During the build up to this event, she followed the relatively unknown Hansons Marathon Method.
What makes the philosophy Keith and Kevin Hanson coach by so unique is they generally do not prescribe a run longer than 16 miles for the marathon. This is in stark contrast to the 18-23 mile long runs that are suggested by the majority of coaches and books.
While this may come as a shock to many runners, athletes that do run by the Hansons methodology practice two things better then many other runners on different plans.
This is more consistent running and more time at or near race pace throughout the weeks and months leading up to an event.
What the Hansons lack in a single long run, they make up for it in a midweek medium distance tempo run. Their training plans also generally include 6 days of running per week.
While you do not have to follow the Hansons method, there are pieces you can take from it and apply it to your own training:
Run as many days per week as you can
We become best at what we repeatedly do. Running as often as possible, even a small amount during recovery days, will benefit you in the long term.
Perform your runs at a level that does not hinder the following training days
Proper pacing is crucial. Proper pacing of hard runs so you do not fatigue the body to a level that forces you to take excess time off. Proper pacing of easy runs to allow for recovery.
More miles at goal race pace
This is something that many athletes lack in their running, time at goal race pace. The Hanson training plan includes race pace miles during a midweek tempo run and often during the long run. Let us not forget the speed and interval sessions as well.
Few easy or off days prior to long or tempo runs
The reasoning behind this is to go into some of the key sessions with a bit of accumulated fatigue. Not enough that will negatively influence the run, but enough that it may make you work a bit harder. The belief here is this will help the athlete prepare themselves for the last 10k of the marathon, which is notoriously more difficult than the first 20 miles.
If you have a race on the horizon, is it often a wise idea to select a prewritten plan to help guide you towards the race. Remember to always write it in pencil and to find one that is the most appropriate to your schedule, your fitness level, and your goals.