I did not grow up a “runner”. I dabbled in some different sports here and there but swimming was my main go-to. I swam competitively year round from the time I was about 8 years old until I graduated high school. I loved it! If I did go on runs during that time it was either for a dryland workout or because I had missed a few swim practices that week and needed to get some training in. That being said, I did not dread going out to run. In fact, I welcomed it. It was a freeing sensation. I loved going places where a car or even a bike couldn’t take me. I discovered new views, bonded with nature, and just got lost in my thoughts as my feet took me away.

It wasn’t until college that I started a fairly consistent running habit. I competed in my first Olympic distance triathlon the summer after high school graduation and later went on to finish my first half marathon that next spring. Now, two years later, I am in the process of training for my second full marathon with the hope of getting a Boston Marathon qualifying time.

I do NOT run every day. My knees could not handle that. In fact, when training for my first marathon, the most mileage I got in before the race was 14 miles because I was in so much pain. (This goes to show how much of racing is mental strategy.) I have learned a lot about my body and what is best for it since then which is why I cross train as much as possible. I found the following training plan on Pinterest and use it as a rough guideline as to where I should be at mileage wise.

I like this plan because it includes hills, intervals, and different time strategies. I don’t have a set guideline for which runs to do and which ones not to, but it is important to ALWAYS find a way to make the long run happen (the run on Sunday in the above training plan). For the runs I forgo due to weather, time, or listening to my body, I make sure to do some form of cardio for the same amount of time I would have been running. For example, if the schedule has me running 7 miles, I would attend an hour long spin class as an alternative. This is because on average, it takes me about an hour to run 7 miles.

If you don’t have 16 weeks to train, there is a simple 12 week plan that can be found here. David Jeter, a qualified writer for Active.com, does a great job of explaining short, middle, and long distance runs. He also stresses the importance of allowing your body to recover. You want to feel good throughout the training process!

What both plans forget to show is the strength training side. This is an extremely important part of any healthy lifestyle, whether you’re working towards a marathon or not. Running is very quad dominant, so you want to make sure that you strengthen your hamstrings and other leg muscles in order to avoid injury. You can follow my exact workouts starting with Workout 34 for some ideas.

You don’t have to be a “runner” to get out there. Whatever your reason is for running, make sure to have fun. Workouts should be hard, but you should also enjoy them. Turn up the jams, get outside, bring some yummy snacks and drink plenty of water. Happy training!

***If neither plan mentioned is the right one for your training needs, you can find a specific strategy at RunnersWorld.com!

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