Totally Overthinking My Half Marathon Training

half marathon

I’m a rule follower. It started a long time ago. I still remember getting in trouble in 3rd grade and having to take a time out on the wall during recess. It was maybe the only time I ever really got in trouble in my elementary school years, and the funny thing is that I’m pretty sure it was because I was upset over not doing well on my multiplication tables. Perfectionist much? Yeah, that’s me.

I’ve lightened up quite a bit over the years, and if you don’t believe me come look at my cluttered office desk, piles of laundry that need folding and the thank yous I still need to write for my son’s birthday, which was back in February. But with certain things, like my half marathon training, I think I’ve gone off the deep end in trying to do the Perfect Job Training.

It started with looking up various training plans. Then I got to reading various articles on training and realized that there are so many schools of thought when it comes to training. Some experts want you to focus primarily on running. The next expert touts the importance of cross-training. The next will say cross-training is great, but don’t do too much of it. Some say cross-training will help you gain overall strength and endurance and prevent overuse injuries from only running. The next says that too much cross-training adds to your overall load and may cause injury if you’re not careful. One pro will talk about the importance of foam-rolling and stretching. The next trainer you talk to says he hasn’t stretched or foam-rolled in months and he’s never felt or performed better. When I read one article that said cycling was great cross-training for runners followed by another that said you should really try to cycle on a running day…well, I finally had to put my phone away and go to bed. It was late anyway.

Besides all of the contradictions, if you’re running and cross-training and stretching and foam rolling AND resting — my goodness, how do you fit it all in? I had to print out a calendar just so I could try to plan my workouts better and so I could customize my plan, which is going to be a jumbled combination of everything I know, seeing what training plans fit with my schedule, being flexible because with three kids life comes up, using training as motivation to rock my workouts, chatting with Coach Kristen when things get serious, and mostly, having fun with it. It’s not like I’m going to run the perfect race in October, so why fool around with perfection now? Progress, not perfection we say. And I’m definitely making progress.

Do you ever get confused by all of the contradictory training plans out there or do you find one and put on blinders to the rest? It’s probably weird that I’m doing so much reading about this… —Erin

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  1. I am SO there with you on this one. My husband calls me the “good kid” in the family; exactly what you’re describing, a perfectionist rule-follower who cried when I got Bs in school (I know…). I’m training for my third race ever (a marathon) right now, and still have the same issue.
    There is SO much conflicting information that I’m always scared I’m going to do the wrong thing and screw up my whole training regime. Rationally I know this won’t happen, but I can’t help but worry: what is the RIGHT way to train??
    So of course I constantly call my father and sister who are both great runners with lots of experience with nit-picky questions about how to train, and they both always have the same response: “Well, I do it this way, but listen to your body, that may or may not work for you. Try x approach out and see if it works for you.”
    …a tough pill for the chronic rule-follower to swallow, to be sure, but I will say this: I ran one half marathon following a training plan to a T, so scared to deviate from a set list of training runs/workouts, and it turned out fine. And then a few months later I ran another half marathon, this one much harder, and this time around, life kind of got in the way of training, keeping me from really following any set training plan. It drove me nuts, made me sick with worry that I wouldn’t finish or I’d have a bad race because I hadn’t gotten in this or that run on this or that day, but you know what? It also turned out 100% fine.

  2. That is such a great comment! You’re totally right. We drive ourselves crazy and then it doesn’t end up mattering all that much. But it gives us something to do in the meantime. haha!

  3. I’ve used the same half marathon training plan since 2012. Like you there are so many training suggestions out there that it was overwhelming. I’ve modified the training plan I’m using depending on what’s going on or how I physically feel. There are time I’ll ride the cycle bike rather than run. There time I lift more. At the end, I did what worked for me. I ran my fourth half on May 21 and for the first time, I’m considering a run walk training for my next half in the fall.