When I write a training plan for a runner, it will be made up of many of the familiar elements you’ll have seen on your own: easy runs, long runs, tempo runs and intervals. Sessions organised neatly over the weeks, building towards a race, all with their own goals helping towards a bigger goal.
The paces and the miles sit there waiting to be tackled with each workout. I imagine the runner will look at them, maybe frown a little, write them on their hand or program them into their watch and head out to run as best they can on a given day.
I don’t assume they’ll always run the session exactly as it’s written down for them – who among us hits our splits exactly to the second every time. Sometimes they’ll struggle, sometimes it will be hard, sometimes they’ll stop early or their pace will gradually slow until it bares little resemblance to the session planned.
And that’s OK.
Training is there to challenge us. Sometimes, a session will be hard and for whatever reason, on a given day, we might not be able execute it as we hoped. If every session you showed up for in a 12-week period went without a hitch I’d be raising my eyebrows.
But there’s also sessions in those plans that are designed to be “Ah-ha” moments. Sessions that are designed to show a runner how far they’ve come and build confidence more than they’re there to build fitness. A race-pace run, timed just right that goes perfectly can give you the confidence and the edge you need to perform on race day over and above any fitness gains that come from it
So when you look at your training plan, remember that there’s more behind it than you might see. There are sessions there to challenge you and sessions to build your confidence. You just might not know which are which until you’re hit in the face with a big dose of “I can do this”.