8 Questions about Your Training Program

Collin Trent wrapping up a marathon PR with the Capitol building in view.

Collin Trent wrapping up a marathon PR with the Capitol building in view.

It’s January and the hardcore runners and resolution runners alike are planning their goals for the new year.  Most are preparing to follow some form of training program or join a group either virtual or live.  The following are 8 questions to ask if you find yourself in this situation.  Your answers will be very telling about your likelihood of success.

Is the starting level appropriate for your current fitness?  Your body could not care less about your goals.  It cares that you stress and rest it properly.  If you are over optimistic about what you can handle at the start of training your body has a number of ways to let you know.  When in doubt do less in the beginning and let your body tell you that it is ready for more.

Is there built in flexibility if you progress faster or slower than expected?  There may be points you need to back off and allow full adaptation and others where you can go full speed ahead longer than planned.  It is hard to tell weeks, let alone months in advance how you will be responding to the training.  Being able to adjust at the time is a great feature.

Do all of the components have gradual progression?  Mileage, long runs, quality workouts, and supplemental training all have to be gradual for full adaptation but must be progressive for improvement to continue.  A good test is to look day to day and week to week and nothing looks to intimidating.  However, if you jump ahead a few weeks or months it should look very challenging.

Does the program fit your life?  Motivation is the thing that gets us started, but if it does not fit your life you will struggle to develop the habits to make it work long term.

If you are not sure about the last answer have you identified the hurdles you need to get over or around?  Life will get in the way from time to time but any ongoing conflicts with preparing to meet your goal must be adequately addressed to best ensure success.

Why are you doing this?  This might have all started as a dare or a bet but at some point you will need to take ownership of the goal and do it for yourself.  Find the sometimes not so obvious reasons why this challenge appeals to you and use those to stay on track when it gets tough.

Who is your support team?  It can be so easy to quit even after significant investment of time and energy if nobody knows or cares about what you are trying to do.  A friend, training partner, or significant other that knows how important this is to you can help keep your head in the game when you are struggling.

Who is your coach or mentor?  There are so many running lessons that can be learned the hard way.  But why learn that way when those that have gone before you can help you identify the warning signs and faulty thinking that led them to make the same mistakes.  If you are new to this you don’t know what you don’t know.  If you have done this before the voice of reason can stop you from making the same mistake twice.  Find somebody either smarter or more objective or both.

If you can pass this 8 question test your chances are looking great you will be rewarded for you effort at the end of the road.  Run smart & run hard!