I have plans. Big plans. My two big running goals for 2015 are to finally break 1:45 for the half and to run a marathon. Up until now I didn’t have a formal training plan. I more or less winged it. I read a fair bit about different training philosophies, the purpose of different types of runs, and various training plans. Runners tend to fall into one of two categories – lots of long slow distance runs (many if not most runners I’ve met fall into this camp) and run less, but run harder (a la Run Less, Run Faster). I fall into the latter. While most training plans recommend that speed work should only be a small portion of one’s training, it’s the bulk of mine when I’m not specifically targeting for a race. When training for a half marathon, I’m more focused about doing speed work, tempo, and longer distance runs each week. I’ve been making progress and getting faster, so I was perfectly content with my lack of explicit structure.
While I am fully confident in my ability to train myself for a half marathon, I’m not as sure if I should continue this way for marathon training or if I should actually buckle down and try to follow a plan. I’m pretty good about following a plan for about a month, but after that I stop (for various reasons). The best training plan is the one that you actually follow, which is the reason why I haven’t bothered in getting a running coach or bothering to buy one of the many training plans out there (except for the Run Less, Run Faster which I bought only when I was reading to learn more about it). It’s money wasted when I know I’ll stop following it after a short period of time.
Still I wanted to know what was out there. At the very least I was going to cherry pick the best parts of what I liked about different training plans and philosophies to cobble together my own marathon training plan. My ideal training plan is quite simple – to run as little as possible while getting as fast as possible. Specifically I was looking for a plan that required me to run no more than four days a week, preferably three, consisted mainly of quality runs and little to no easy runs of any kind (short or long). Run Less, Run Faster falls into my line of thinking, but even RLRF had more miles than I actually wanted to run. Serendipitously I found MyASICS – a free training program developed by Asics, which fit just about every requirement I wanted for a training program. In order to see if it works and if I like it, I’m testing this out for my spring half marathon, The Love Run in Philly. If it goes well, I’ll use it for my fall marathon training. Otherwise, I’ll improvise as usual.
MyASICS Training Program Review
The program is very customize-able. You decide if you want to run 2, 3, or 4 times week and how hard you want the pace to be (mild, average, hard). Based upon your current level of fitness (based on a race time that you give), the distance of the race, and how much time there is to train, Asics will develop a training plan for you and give you a prediction of how well they think you’ll do. You can move around the training runs to different days (individually or in bulk so that your long runs fall on a particular day). If you run your hard training runs faster than the recommended pace that My Asics gives for two weeks, then it’ll ask if you want to readjust your plan to have you train harder. The converse is also true.
I like that MyASICS gives you a range of paces for most of the training runs. Depending on weather, stress, course, and other things, the same pace can feel quite different psychologically. An 8:30 for me can be easy or grueling. Having a range allows me to meet my training requirements without being too stressed or psyched out if I don’t quite hit the target pace.
MyASICS has both a website and an app (IPhone and Android). This is fantastic because I can easily look up the distance and the pace right on my phone before I head out. The website and app are synced with each other. Both the website and app are easy to use. When you log in a run, you can track all kinds of info, such as weather, mood, appetite, shoes you used for that run, etc. The website is very well-designed. It’s simple and clean. You can track a lot of info, but you don’t need to. Data about the runs are presented in a clear and comprehensible manner. It’s just a joy to use, especially in comparison to GarminConnect, which is a little clunky.
The app comes with a GPS tracker, like RunKeeper and MapMyRun. If you use the GPS tracker, it automatically logs your run. If you don’t use it, you can log your run manually. The GPS tracker is about as accurate as any other app. I’ve used it a few times and found that it tends to be a little short on distance when the course is windy. It matched my Garmin exactly when I was running a dead straight back-and-out course. You can connect RunKeeper to MyAsics.
I really like most of the planned runs that MyASICS has laid out. MyASICS focuses on lots of tempo runs and longer runs that aren’t too slow, and steady state runs just before the race. There are runners out there who think that this is a terrible plan because they feel that it’s too few mileage and not enough long slow distance. If you feel this way, this plan isn’t for you. This plan is very much in line with how I like to train. If you’re looking for a training plan that has you running faster without running a lot of miles, this is a good one for you to look at.
MyASICS is 100% free. You can’t beat that price.
No speed work whatsoever. I think speed work is necessary and it’s a mistake to not have it all. What I’m going to do is swap out the few easy runs that MyASICS has and do speed work instead.
Garmin is not connected to MyASICS. Too bad considering that so many of us runners are on GarminConnect.
Information about each individual run could be combined into a single page rather than being distributed across a couple different pages. Details of the run (e.g., weather) are on one page, while the map of the route is on another page that you get to on a different tab and clicking on a couple links. It’s the only thing on MyASICS that I feel could have been better designed and a little clunky.
I’m incredibly excited about using MyASICS to do half marathon training. For the next three months I’ll be providing updates and thoughts about this training process.