Crazy Train


A week ago, I mentioned that I hadn’t settled on a training plan for the Boston Marathon yet. Well, now I have. Drumroll, please:

I’m not using one.

Whoever is with Colby as she reads this better get her smelling salts and a cocktail – STAT – because I’m pretty sure she just fainted.

I am as By The Book as they come. You give me a plan and I will follow it to a T, and no, I never round up. As if you had to ask.

Which is why I’m ditching the idea of a formal training plan altogether.

For my first marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon – I followed Marathon Rookie’s Beginner Marathon Training Plan religiously. My first marathon training came at a brief period in my life when I kinda had too much time on my hands. All 3 kids had started full school days and work was slow. I liked having something (Beginner Marathon Training Plan) to obsess over and provide a schedule for my days and weeks.

By the time training for last year’s Philly Marathon rolled around, I was in a much different place. I had started working more and my kids had become really busy with their own sports. Between my job as a lawyer and my job as head chauffeur (not to mention COO) of The Family, I did not have time to find a new training plan to obsess over. Instead, I dusted off Beginner Marathon Training Plan, added a few miles to each of the long runs because I was already runner longer than the schedule provided, and ran with it {see what I did there!}. I was a little nervous that I wasn’t stepping up my game enough – I still stuck to the plan’s weekday runs, which were pretty short for where I was – but, alas, that was all my schedule permitted.

And in the end, it didn’t matter. I had a massive allergic reaction the afternoon before the race, made a game time decision to race anyway, and finished. It wasn’t pretty, but my issues were not due to lack of training, and I finished at just under 4:02 despite the lingering effects of Benadryl, recovering from a brush with anaphylaxis and 4 separate porta-potty stops during the last half. I dare say my training served me pretty well.

On Saturday night, we went to a birthday party for our dear friend Diva Cindi  and one of Diva Cindi’s friends asked me about training plans. She had read my post about taking 3 unscheduled days off and took note of the fact that I mentioned that I am a schedule freak. She had also met me once before, so probably already knew that. Diva Cindi’s Friend asked what plan I was thinking of for Boston, since she is considering running her first marathon this year. I told her that I would recommend the beginner plan at Marathon Rookie for her, but that I was not yet decided on what I would use for myself. And it got me thinking….

And I realized I don’t want a plan. I’m busy. I have a lot of schedules to manage. I have too many “plans” as it is. I doubt I would be able to stick to a plan religiously and that would make me nuts. I guess I’m too much of a planner to use a plan if I can’t use it perfectly. Does that make sense in a weird & twisted way?

Plus, I’m crazy-excited for Boston. I don’t want to set myself up for stress and feelings of failure as I train for it. So, for probably the first time in 45 years, I’m gonna wing it. (YES,COLBY! YOU READ THAT RIGHT!) I will keep holy The Long Run and I will run and rest as needed during the week. But I want the next few months to be more about my love of distance running and excitement for the race than a slavish adherence to a plan.

We’ll see how it goes. Come April 20, I could finish strong or collapse upon myself like a dying star. Whatever happens in the race itself, though, I’m pretty sure that the months leading up to Boston will be a lot more fun for me now that I have made my plan to ditch the plan.

Note – just remembered the one other time I have “winged it” – I moved to NYC after college with an awesome roommate, a reasonably priced apartment, but no job. One of the best decisions I ever made. 😉 So this is the second time I have winged it. I’m practically a hippie.

Are you “by the book” or “by the seat of your pants?” Love a Plan or hate a plan? Ever trained for a marathon without a formal plan (feel free to tell me you did and came in first)?


35 thoughts on “Crazy Train

    • I am so “by the plan,” it is scary. As in, I think I have actually scared people. Particularly on the PTA. It may be why they don’t call me anymore for help. On one committee, I was told that I was too organized and took care of things too quickly. #truth.
      Thanks for including your link! Off to check it out.

  1. Sorry. I just came to….

    HOLY SHIT. {Faints again.}

    I am so goddamn proud of you. GODDAMN PROUD. But if you start wearing that bullshit patchouli I’m pulling your BFF card. I mean it.


    • Poodle, I should have warned you when we spoke this morning. My bad. As for the rest of your comment – what is this “patchouli” of which you write? I don’t think they carry it at my preferred shopping locations. If they do, it certainly is not stocked by the black cashmere cardigans and pearls, or I think I would have seen it.
      Fear not, my friend. It’s not a slippery slope. Your BFF is not going anywhere.

      xo June Cleaver

  2. I’m kinda a seat of the pants guy. Even when I have a plan I have a hard time following it. Life gets in the way. I do my best and try to avoid injury.
    Enjoy your training and Boston!

    • I love seat of the pants people. I mean, I love watching you and observing from the sidelines. I just don’t think I have it in me ever to be one. Hard to undo 45 years of Type A craziness. Sigh.

  3. I need a plan because my tendency is to not treat myself well and overdo, so having a coach and a plan keeps me from doing myself harm. I figure they know better than me (although I still have to fight the urge to tack on faster, more ore more miles, screw the rest days!).

    I think you know yourself best, and that perhaps running for the joy of running is what you need to do. If (when!!!) I get to run Boston, my number one goal for that race will be to enjoy the heck out of it, not try to PR. It sounds like that’s where you are, and having a fun training cycle that’s less about the schedule and more about the fun is your best path there 🙂

    Plus running in the northeast in winter sucks, nevermind piling on pressure.

    • A coach – now, that’s cool! I am a sicko who likes running in the NE in winter except for ice.
      No screwing of the rest days, Judith!!! Keep them sacred! I’m glad you have a coach to hold you back.
      My tendency would be to do too much, as well – I’m not afraid of doing too little. Fortunately, I don’t think my schedule will let me overtrain too much. I’m hopeful that my non-schedule will be the right schedule for my busy schedule and I end up happy and in the right place come raceday…

  4. I am very much a plan follower, but it doesn’t have to be a very formal plan, just some sort of target mileage per day/week. Once I have it mapped out, I know I will follow through. Without a plan I am more willing to take extra rest days or be “too busy” to run. With a plan, I get it done.

    • That’s the right kind of plan follower to be. Not getting too caught up in the details of the plan while keeping to the big picture of the plan. That’s how I hope to handle plans when I grow up.

  5. I really struggle with plans. I resent having fixed appointments in my schedule that eat up my time for other things and usually end up skipping things out of spite. I usually make a training plan and then complete about 75% of the runs, but usually end up doing ok anyway.

  6. Seat of my pants, all the way – always gave been. I do stats but that’s about where it all ends. I figure whatever I want to do, if I train and become comfortable doing more than race day, I should be good. Hasn’t failed me yet. Good luck.

  7. OMG you will rock that race because you know what it takes to prepare for a marathon and of course you’ll do that, and the vibe is the BEST so even if you’re not up for a PR, it’s awesome and will be fun and a great race!!!!!! Great decision.

    • Thank you! Not planning on a PR, just psyched to run it! Grew up within walking distance of Heartbreak Hill. Went to BC. So many memories of watching this race…and now I’m running it!

  8. I’m a total by the book geek- I love having a plan & crossing off each workout after I finish it. But you know your body & lifestyle, so if this works for you, that’s awesome 🙂 I hope it brings good things for you come Marathon Monday!

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