How to Make a Training Schedule for Running That Fits You


Some of my many running books.

How I made my schedule in the past:

1. Buy many running books looking for magic tips on how to run.

2. Put running books on shelf in library dedicated to running books.

3. Dust off books (trying to figure out who you lent the missing ones to).

4. Ask your running friends what schedule they are using.

5. Use whichever running friends’ schedule sounds easiest…

So, my approach has kind of worked in the past, but I’m hoping to do a better job this year. I’d like to get a PB in a half marathon this fall. So, I dusted off my running books again. I figured out where the missing one is (it’s okay Tab – I don’t need that one). Then I started looking at the training programs and comparing them to what has worked for me in the past.

I’ve tried running 5-6 days a week, like the programs in the book “Running” by Jim Stanton, and although I got good results as far as time, I ended up with injuries and I wore myself out. Mainly I think this is because I am now an over 40 runner.  What I did like about it was that it was very structured, and I need that or I slack off. Last year I tried programs from the Runner’s World “Run Less Run Faster ” book. I liked this program because you do 3 key runs a week, which is great for my old lady body. The speedwork workouts were really effective, but if there was any workout I would ever skip, it would be that one because, well, they are hard. I was also supposed to do cross training two other days, but I’m not a swimmer, or a biker, or a rower, so I kind of failed at that part of it. I think it is a very effective program – and a couple of my friends use it and really like it, however, I think I need something a little different.

So, what’s my plan for this year?

Well, I purchased a book in the last couple of years called “Run Faster, From the 5k to the Marathon” – how to be your own best coach. It talks about “adaptive running” and finding out what works for you.  After looking into it again, frankly, I decided I needed to stop being lazy and take the time to do a specific plan that works for me.

The book has many training plans, most that include 6 days a week of running, and it has a large section dedicated to schedules to get your Boston Marathon qualifying time. Near the back of the book, however, I found a chapter on “Adaptive Running for Youth and Masters Runners”.  There was a 10k training schedule that had 3 runs a week, a day of cross training (I can perhaps hike, bike or do a fun trail run) 3 days of core work and a day off. I combined this schedule with their Intermediate level Half Marathon training schedule by swapping out the long runs in the 10k training for the long runs in the Half Marathon training. I also decided to add a session of Yoga on two of the Core workout days. I already have my favorite yoga video picked out:

Now I just need a core strengthening workout…


A sample page of my training schedule.

The 3 main reasons why I think this plan will work for me are:

  1. The 3 key runs are incorporated, but they are varied. There are long runs, progression runs, anaerobic hill intervals, ladder workouts, threshold runs, speed intervals, fartlek  and specific-endurance intervals.  Having variety in my workouts makes me dread them less. If I can’t anticipate the pain, it doesn’t feel as bad. 🙂
  2. I have a detailed plan with all my workouts penciled in every day. Having my core workouts and yoga planned along with my runs makes it more likely that they’ll get done. That’s just how I am, I love checking things off… I NEED to check things off…
  3. The idea of “adaptive running” includes knowing when you should switch out one workout for another. If you wake up feeling terrible, then your long run or speedwork won’t be very productive. Alternatively, waking up in the mood for a big workout and only doing a core session isn’t productive either. This training method encourages you to be comfortable with rearranging your runs when necessary as long as you get it all in. This is good for me, because I normally end up feeling like I failed if I don’t do things when my plan says to do them.

The bottom line is, there are many great books out there and many great training plans. I would recommend all 3 of the books I mentioned above. But, by taking into consideration your personality, your past experience and your abilities, you can – with a little work – devise a plan that is perfect for you and find your true running potential.

You can figure out how to be your own coach and, perhaps, run faster than you ever thought possible! (that’s the plan anyways 🙂 )

SO… what training schedules or tips have you benefited from. And does anyone know of a good YouTube video for core strengthening they can recommend?




My week of running – including the Mississauga Half Marathon and a sea of Trilliums

I had an adventurous week in running which started with the Mississauga Half Marathon at 7:30am Sunday morning. I’d been dreading this half all month. I ended up getting sick at the beginning of April with the cold/flu that has been going around, and that I had managed to avoid up until then. My coughing had almost subsided, but I still had a lot of chest congestion and a couple of weeks before the race I barely managed to finish a 13k. Anyway – I was quite worried how it would turn out.


I’m the one in the pink socks – in case anyone was worried… 😉

Well, it ended up turning out pretty well. I decided to run with a friend who was getting over his own illness and that took the pressure off. Even if it was a terrible run, it wouldn’t be as bad because I had a running buddy with me. We ended up helping each other through (he pushed me faster through the first 17k and I got him through the last 4k) and finishing just under 2 hours (1:59:40), considerably better than we thought we’d do.


Beautiful morning for a race – the empty start line early in the morning.


The day was beautiful. It wasn’t too cold to start and the sun didn’t come out until just before we finished.


Off to a happy start.


This Mississauga Half might be my favorite Half Marathon. It is large, but not too crowded, well supported and well organized. I love starting in Mississaga and ending in Port Credit. The running Expo before the race is amazing too. Lots of freebies and an amazing goodie bag. I wish I had remembered to take a picture.



After the race, grabbing my swag and filling my face.


I highly recommend it.

I wanted to get right back at it and use the excitement of the race to kick start my summer runs, so I ran a slow 3.5k on Monday, and a slow 8.5k (with 10 walking breaks – eek) on Wednesday. On Thursday I had a “back to normal” 5k that included this beautiful sea of Trilliums.


Trilliums as far as the eye can see!

I’ve learned from my last 2 races that I have been taking it easy on myself. I’ve proved to myself that I have the ability push harder in a race than I thought I could. I also know I can push harder in training – at least the speedwork part. So, I’ve set a goal for next year’s Mississauga Half of 1:45…

What are your favorite training programs? Any special workouts that you’ve found increased your speed?

Have a great weekend everyone! I hope you have a fun running weekend. If all goes well, I may just get a cottage run in on Saturday. (squeal)



Mandy’s Dream Races

I think every runner has a to-do list of races.  I keep a list of races that I am planning on running in the next year taped to my desk.  It gives me something to look forward to when I’m bored and stuck inside at work.  But tucked away in the back of my mind, I also keep a list of my dream races.  They are the races that, above all other races, I’d love to run!

Some of them are local, realistic goals, and others are far away and will probably never happen.  But each one is special to me.  Here they are:

1. Around the Bay Road Race

Around the Bay is a race with a lot of history.  It is the oldest road race in North America, first run in 1894.  That’s pretty cool, and for that reason alone, it’s on my list.  But on top of that, it’s only an hour away from home in Hamilton, Ontario!

Jackie and a few friends ran this race last spring.  It was a hard route, but they loved it.  The longest I’ve ran is a half-marathon.  So, although it scares me, I think this race may be in the not-so-distant future.

Image via Around the Bay

Image via Around the Bay

2. Waterloo Marathon

This is a small, local marathon that is held every spring.  The route is very scenic.  It winds through country roads, and even includes the famous covered bridge in West Montrose.  I think it’s important to support local races, so I would love if this was my first marathon.

3. Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa is a beautiful city, and this race takes you through some of its prettiest spots.  Running this one would make for a fun weekend away in the capital, but wouldn’t require too much planning or expense.

Image via Ottawa Tourism

Image via Ottawa Tourism

4. ENDURrun International

This is another local event, but it is CRAZY!  They call it the Tour de France of running events. It is a week long series of races in the heat of summer.  It includes a half-marathon, 15km time trial, 30km trail run, 16km hill run, 25.6km alpine run, 10km time trial, and then finishes off, just for the heck of it, with a marathon.  It’s pretty impressive that our relatively small community hosts such an epic event.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever have it in me to complete this race, but it’s fun to think about!  (You can also enter as a team, with one person tackling each race.  That might be a good place to start.)

Image via ENDURrun

Image via ENDURrun

5. Subaru Triathalon Series Milton Try-A-Tri

I think it would be amazing to complete a triathlon.  However, I can barely swim. If I could get past doggy-paddling, I would love to “Try-a-tri.”  It’s a mini triathlon, consisting of a 375m swim, 10k bike ride, and 2.5km run.  I think this race would take me far out of my comfort zone, but is still achievable.

6. Appalachians Ragnar Trail Relay

Running and camping with a bunch of friends!  How can you beat that? I don’t think it’s possible.  🙂

Image via Ragnar Trail Relays

Image via Ragnar Trail Relays

7. SeaWheeze Half-Marathon

This half-marathon is put on by Lululemon in Vancouver, BC.  Every picture I’ve seen from this race shows a sea of colourful Lulu-wearing runners.  I think it would be a fun, festive atmosphere, and I’ve always wanted to visit Vancouver.

Image via SeaWheeze

Image via SeaWheeze

8. Nike Women’s Marathon San Francisco

This race is up there on my list.  San Francisco is my favourite city that I’ve traveled to, and I’d love to visit again.  I can’t imagine all the beautiful sights you’d see running 42.2k through that city!  At the end of this race, firemen hand out the medals, which are Tiffany & Co necklaces.  I like the thought of being able to wear your medal everyday without getting strange looks.

9. Klondike Trail Road Relay

Jackie told me about this relay.  It starts in Alaska and crosses into the Yukon.  As you can probably imagine, it has some serious elevation.  It would be an amazing experience, but the logistics of finding a team of runners crazy enough to travel that far to run up a mountain are nearly impossible!  This race will probably remain a dream.

10. Big Sur International Marathon

I’ve listed the previous races in no particular order, but my holy grail of all races is definitely the Big Sur International Marathon.  I’ve driven the Highway One coast line twice, and the beauty of that road is unbelievable.  It has a special place in my heart.  I imagine running that route would be life changing, and I hope I get the chance one day!

Image by Doug Steakley via

Image by Doug Steakley via