Thoughts of Different Training Cycles

I can’t believe tomorrow I’m driving down South for a few days for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.  It almost seems depressing that I’ll only be a few hours from home yet I won’t be in the VA Beach area.  My post isn’t about VA Beach or traveling though. 

I have often wondered if cross training when you don’t feel like running is beneficial.  I’ll preface this by saying that I have absolutely no idea the correct answer to that.  I’m not going to sit here and throw around facts that I made up. I’m also not going to say, I blog therefore have the credentials to give you unwanted training (or life) advice. I will, however, tell you what has worked for me in this training cycle.  (I consider everything past my cyst injury this training cycle really).

Since roughly January, I’ve taken a day off weekly to either cross train or not work out at all depending on my mood.  Often times, it’s because of some weird problem I’m having of the day…sick…eye problems…sleeping…but other times it’s because I am focusing to taper (like tomorrow).

I’ve found that I’m still able to run the next day and didn’t lose all my endurance…go figure…not all of us hate days off…  I am the first to tell you that all while preparing for an overzealous cross country season last year I didn’t take a lot of rest days.  It wasn’t because I felt “compelled” to hit a certain mileage (because I’m hitting roughly the same mileage now with an off day).  It was because I was training differently.

Everyday I’d run roughly 5-8 miles before it got to be 100000 degrees.  Then maybe I’d run a few more in the form of a speed workout in the afternoon.  Heatbox speed…only made me stronger.  I don’t know, I hit my fastest 5k in 90 degree heat back in July.

I’d cross train on top of an 8 mile run sometimes…other times I’d just take PM off.  I took a few rest days sometimes.  What I’m telling you is that I basically cross trained and ran the same amount just layed out differently.  Instead of an entire day dedicated to just cross training, I’d run lower mileage throughout the week and just cross train…or take pm’s off.

Now I run higher mileage 6 out of 7 days of the week and then take a day away from running.  Not purposely but that is just how the cookie has started to crumble.

I think in this self guided thought processed blog.  (ie: my thinking about my training out loud),  I think I somewhat like having a day to just cross train as well.  It makes me crave running the next day.  (not in the same way I crave cookies though…).

Everyone’s body works differently and to think that you can umbrella yourself into one particular style or training method.  Sure there is a general method to improving, but how I choose to run may or may not work for you…just as you choose to train and run may or may not work for me. 

Questions for you:  Does your training change?

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  1. I think your training has to change if you want to keep improving, otherwise, your training is no longer a stressor to your body forcing adaptation and improvement. That’s the cool thing about triathlon; you have bike focus blocks, run focus blocks, and swim focus blocks so you are always challenging yourself in a new way, and not getting bored.

    This is my not so subtle way to try to get you to jump back in the pool.

    1. I do plan to get into the pool after the Nike half (not the same time obviously) but I am signed up for a 1 mile open water swim in mid June ha ha.

  2. I think you’re right in that everyone is different. Some people are more injury prone than others, and some may need more cross training or rest. One person may be at their max at 35 miles a week and another person 100. It’s all about what works for you. I do agree though that mixing things up makes a better athlete, whether it’s adding some speed in or changing up the exercise entirely so your body doesn’t get used to the same motion.

  3. Lately, I haven’t been feeling longer runs as much. A month or two ago, I’d be running 6-8 miles 6 days a week and be completely fine. I’ve had a couple flare-ups since then, so I’ve found shorter mileage (Anywhere between 3 and 5 miles) in the mornings and cross-training (spinning) in the pm about 2 or 3 times a week has really worked for me. I still fit in a long run since I should be “training” for an upcoming half, but I don’t feel the need to get too crazy about training since I’ve already built my base.

    1. I can completely understand that! There was a point in my training that I would prefer to do 2,5 mile runs versus 1 10. Now I’m all about one. 🙂

  4. Yep you are right everyone is different and just because one program works for one person doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone… I have been getting freaked out at state races since coming back from injury as all I hear at the line is “oh I’ve done this many kilometres” and I usually think “oh crap I’ve done quarter of that”… Anyway moving on before another epic ramble starts… I believe in cross training acually, although I didn’t do as much as I should have and it was hard, but I think the little I did helped… well I try to convince myself anyhow haha… I also like to believe I have a six pack from all my strength work, which I so do, it’s just hiding yep haha… Ok I need sleep.. I actually am sick so haven’t run for a whole 5 days so right now craving a run like chocolate, don’t care how slow for me running is my outlet! Good luck again for the half… I shall be stalking your results hehe… 🙂

  5. I feel ya on thinking training thoughts out loud.. it helps to sort everything out! Obviously, your way of training is working because you’re an amazing runner and mot importantly, you’re enjoying it still!

  6. I think changing your routine is essential. When I got back into running and was training for my first half, I was running every day and sometimes more than once a day. My reward was bursitis in my right knee and to sit out for 5 weeks. In order not to go stir crazy, I tried spinning and got back in the pool for laps. Since then, I have been injury free (knock on wood) and attribute that to maintaining a rotation of activities that continues to include spin, cycling (weather permitting), running and swimming. Having said that, and as you have observed, each person is different.

  7. I think it’s great that your training seems to form a pattern that works FOR YOU. So many people get caught up in what they think training should be or even how other people train.

    I do take 1-2 rest days a week, only because things start to “hurt” or “get tight”… However I’m sure if I spent those off days strength training… maybe that wouldn’t be the case and I wouldn’t have to take those off days!

  8. I think when you write things (or type things) out, you get a better realization of what’s right/wrong for you. If you feel kind of embarrassed or wrong to type something… It’s probably an indicator your mind is wondering if it’s a good thing. Sometimes after I type things out, i realize I’m being ridiculous about something or just avoiding what I don’t want to say to myself. I’m glad blogging helped you find a way you love to train that suites YOU.

  9. I think you have the right idea. Every time I take a day off (or a few days, like before a race) or cross train, I always crave running pretty quickly. I think the key to staying motivated to run, is NOT running every single day.

    I have been running a lot of really, really easy miles lately and it helps a lot. Lets me push myself when I want to run “hard” or do a “workout”, while getting my mileage up there to build a base for marathon training.

  10. Every single one of my training cycles has been different. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    Some I really focused on core work combined with running. Some I focused on lots of runs with shorter average distance, and some were less runs with higher average distance. Some I did a TON of cross training and others I didn’t. I saw pros/cons to each of these cycles as I went through them.

    I think the fact that I pretty much refuse to train the same every time is why I am able to stay relatively injury free and not burn out either.

    1. So agreed. Running the same amount of miles, doing the same thing…gets boring real fast and then burn out. With marathons (or anything really) it’s so important because the training cycles are so long!

  11. I think I train according to how I feel without making a conscious choice in the matter.I realized after the fact that this winter I ended up cross training more than running which actually made my runs that much better and faster. Lately I have been back to running more and totally feeling in it so I think I run best when I run a little less…hmm, something for me to think about!

  12. Since I seem to be injury after injury, I’ve been sticking to shorter workouts. Usually I work out more in the summer because I have more time to do that. I am going to try and complete a half marathon next weekend, though, even though I haven’t run in over a month. Lots of walking will be involved, I’m sure.

  13. Since we are triathletes we are always doing three different sports, so I think that helps us keep injuries at bay. Also, we always take an off day on Monday, unless we are in the off season then sometimes we might run or workout on Monday if it something interesting. We don’t swim and bike as much during the triathlon off season but we keep a good running base throughout the year.

  14. Wow that Nike Women’s half looks AWESOME! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    In regards to training, mine has been all over the place. In college, I would always take one day off a week. My first year out of college I basically didn’t run. Then the last two years, I have gradually stepped up my program more. This past summer I started going two weeks without a day off. I was running much faster, but I always felt so tired! And I think it eventually caught up to me…finding a balance is tough!

  15. It’s all about finding what works for you–and “listening to your body” because you love that expression. 😉 Some weeks, I feel like a rest day isn’t necessary while others seem to demand time totally off.

  16. I have been following you since you made the change and I can honestly say one of the things I love most about you is you don’t label rest days or plan them at all. You live. The day I stopped thinking of days I don’t run or work out as rest days was the day my mindset changed and I began to love to run. It took the stress out of everything I associated with working out. I think the days you take off are the days when you have a inkling it would be beneficial for the next day. I also think there are a lot of wrong ways of training, but there is also no complete right way because each person is different

  17. Agreed, everyone’s body works differently….and even one person’s needs will change over time so there are many different training styles you can fit into! while running on my own at WM I did really well on running 5 days a week (about 40-45mpw), crosstraining one day and resting one day – that’s when I PR”d in the half by 5 mins. But at Bates, on the team, I did really well also on 45 mpw, but spread out over 6 days of running – with crosstraining the day after a track workout because the track beats up my legs so bad. I think it all depends what your goals are, what surfaces you’re using, and also how well you recover during the day, how well you/how much you sleep etc

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