Training Plans and Goals

Happy Thursday everyone! Today's my last day of work for the year, so I'm excited for today to be over and to relax for the next week.

Last week I talked about my races for the first half of 2017, and today I'm going to be sharing my planning.  As I mentioned, I'll be running 3 races in preparation for a full marathon in April.  This will help me break down the long 20 weeks of training and also test my fitness along the way!  I picked out two plans to follow and made a few changes to them.  Here are some thoughts on each, along with the changes I'll be making:

Training Phase I

Right now, I'm following Kara Goucher's half marathon training plan, with a few modifications:  I'm making my long runs a bit longer and switching a rest day to Thursday (instead of Friday).  Other than that, I'm really liking this plan and think it's doing a great job of building a strong base.

The mileage comes in right at my comfort zone (25-30s) and the "workouts" are different each week.  Speed workouts are always my favorite runs of the week, and I love how challenging Kara's are.  Every week it's a different workout that's difficult but doable, and also makes me feel strong and confident.  Most of the workouts are designed to work on getting comfortable at race pace, so I think these will really help me!

I also like the fact that core workouts are built in to this plan.  Every time that I start a new training plan, I have goals to make core exercises a priority but never follow through.  Since it's written down in this plan, I feel like I have to do it, and it's already making me feel stronger!  The moves aren't difficult but definitely work all of my muscles that I need to run.

Training Phase II

Eventually, I'm going to switch over to the Women's Running Break 4 Hour Marathon Plan (what a name)!  The mileage is really similar to Kara Goucher's plan, so it won't be much of an adjustment.  The long runs will get longer, and the mid-week runs will also get a little longer as well.  I will also adjust this so that my rest days are on Thursday and Saturday, which seem to work well for my body!

Since I really like the speed workouts in Kara Goucher's plan, I'm going to keep doing those even when I switch to the marathon plan.  I might eventually switch over, but for now that's what I'm planning on doing, but add on more mileage in each workout to make it more full-marathon-appropriate.

Cross Training

Besides core work, I'm also going to continue to do yoga.  Right now I'm doing it every day for the 30 Day Yoga Challenge.  After that's over, I want to continue to do yoga at least five days a week.  The videos that I'm doing are usually on the shorter side (30 minutes or less) and are more focused on stretching than doing anything really strenuous.  This has been helping me out SO much with recovery and flexibility, so I want to keep it up!

Another big change that I'm making is no more alcohol during the week.  I usually have a beer or glass of wine with dinner, but I realized it was just making me feel like crap and isn't worth it at all.  I decided to eliminate it during the week and might even stop completely!  Of course, if something comes up and I have a happy hour after work or go out with friends I'll have a drink or two, but otherwise I'm going to up my water game and treat my body better.


To be honest, I didn't want to share my "real" goals on here because they kind of scare me.  They're super ambitious and I'm afraid that everyone's going to laugh at me or tell me I'm being unrealistic.  I know that there's a pretty good chance that I won't get my "A" goal this year, or maybe ever!  That's fine with me.

I was listening to Lindsey Hein's podcast where she interviewed Shalane Flanagan, and Shalane said "If you're achieving all of your goals, you're probably not setting a high enough standard for yourself."  I loved that, because it's so true.  Who cares if you don't reach all of your goals?  We should all have those scary goals that seem impossible, because it forces us to challenge ourselves and push towards being better.  Even if I don't make my goal this year, or next year, or the year after- I'm on the right path and working towards something I care about.

After all that rambling- here are my goals for the year/my life!
  • Break 1:45 in the half marathon - I think that my favorite distance is the half marathon.  Lately I've been training with my "goal pace" being 8:00, so I actually think that this one is do-able.  I'll be running a great course for the Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon, so I'll be interested to see how I do there!

  • Qualify for Boston - This is the scary one!  I haven't done a full marathon in such a long time, and my current PR is 4:38:12 after a less than ideal training schedule during my final semester at college.  For my age group, I'll have to take over an hour off that time just to qualify (and probably an hour and fifteen minutes to actually register).  That sounds just about impossible to me right now, but I know that if I put a lot of effort, dedication, and time in I'll be able to do it.  My first step to getting there is breaking four hours, which I hope to do this year.  Will I achieve my dream of BQ?  Maybe, maybe not.  But why not try?

  • Do a handstand in yoga - Now that I'm practicing yoga regularly, I'm challenging myself to try out new poses and getting stronger and stronger.  I've always dreamed about being able to do a handstand, so I figured I should throw this in with my other goals.  

There you have it!  My training plans and my goals.  As we get closer to race time, I'll go into more specifics about realistic goals and break down my A, B, and C goals.  For now, these three are what I'm dreaming and thinking about and hope to achieve one day.

What are your scary goals?
Do you like to set realistic goals instead of "dream" goals?


  1. I love your goals!! For me, I'm still chasing a sub-2 half, and like you, really would love to qualify for Boston. I haven't told my coach this yet but....I want to do it in the fall of 2018. Eek! The thing with big scary goals is that they give you something to work toward! I just like to break them into smaller milestones.

    For RnR DC, I'd love to break 2 hours, but my current PR is 2:10, so I'm going for 2:05 or under. I technically hit a PR in the back half of my marathon last month...Bit I don't count that ;). I'd like to get close to 4 hours this fall at the marathon. Progress towards my goals!!!

  2. GO AND GETTTTT ITTTTTTT! You have solid plans, smart goals, and that tremendous work ethic. Now, I hope that the winter cooperates with you :D

  3. I like that you threw in a non-running goal to work towards this year. I had a yoga goal of getting my palms flat on the floor in forward fold, which was something I could easily do when I was younger--but in November I discovered that I couldn't even touch the floor. After 5-6 weeks of semi-regular practice, I managed it last night. Now I'm trying to figure out what my next yoga goal will be (I don't think I'm ready for handstands yet!).

  4. So happy you are liking Kara's plan so far! I absolutely loved it when I used it and will most definitely be using it again. YAY for huge goals!!! Can't wait to see how 2017 plays out for ya!

  5. I try and follow the SMART goal formula, but lately my ambition to set goals hasn't been super high. Right now I feel like I have more dreams than goals, but for now I think that's okay. Hope your last day of work goes by quickly and you can enjoy your vacation!

  6. Thanks for the link to Kara's plan -- I am still deciding on my training plan for my next half.

    As I wrote about recently, while I'll train hard, I really try not to have time goals. I have an idea of where my fitness level is, and a time window I'll tell my husband, who is waiting for me, but so much goes into having a "good" time -- so much that is beyond our control -- it can really make you crazy.

    It's not that I think you shouldn't have time goals -- or aggressive ones, at that -- but you should have a lot of other goals, too. Especially for a marathon -- so much training goes into it and it can be so disappointing if you don't meet your goals.

    Good luck & happy holidays!

  7. I think it's great that plans are out there to help runners train! YAY for you for sharing your upcoming goals, even if they scare ya!

  8. I just read over the Kara Goucher plan and am seriously in LOVE with it. Especially those speed workouts. Those sound so much more geared to a HM than ones that have me doing lots of 400 M repeats. I had already sort of morphed a few plans, but thinking now I may base the guts of my plan around hers & go from there. Probably add in one more day of cross training versus running, but that's just a me thing.

    Also, my eventual HM goal is to run a sub-145 as well, before I turn 30. Which would give me just over 3 years. Not totally unreasonable, but will take lots of hard work. My PR right now is a 1:54.01.

  9. You've got this! I feel like the Boston goal seems so unattainable to so many people (myself included) but when you take that hour and spread it out over 26+ miles it doesn't seem nearly as bad. You can totally get there and I think it's all about making those smaller goals as stepping stones.

  10. I think having goals is what keeps this sport interesting! I have already reached my running goals but instead of making new ones, i'd like to reach those goals again someday and start to be more consistent with them. Does that make sense?

  11. I always admire your goal setting and plans!!

    go and get them!! You totally got this!!

  12. I loved this post, specifically the mention that you should have "stretch" goals.

    I don't know where you are in your journey to handstand, like if you have a good headstand or shoulder stand or can float, but this Kino MacGregor video ( is short and helps you build the strength foundation you'll tap into for handstand. (It says "Beginner" in the title, but I think it's appropriate for all levels.)

    Good luck!

  13. Your goals sound awesome, girl! I don't think you should be scared of sharing them at all because I am sure you can achieve them!

  14. Glad to hear your sharing! It hopes that you will be able to get your goal. Good luck!

  15. I'm so excited for you Gretchen! It takes courage to publicly state your goals, but I don't think anyone would laugh at you for them! For as long as I've known you, you've worked hard and achieved so many goals, so I am 100% confident you will achieve these!

  16. Love the quote from Shalane! Sub-1:45 in the half is a goal I would like to hit (and eventually 1:42, just because that's a full hour off my first half time). I'd like to think I have a BQ in me eventually, but I'm just hoping to break 4 hours this spring and maybe then I'll starting thinking Boston! I totally agree with you though - why not try?! You never know!

  17. Thanks for sharing your goals and maybe inspiring others in the process ;)


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