This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
Where are the training plans on HillRunner.com?
I get asked this frequently. My answer? I hate pre-canned training plans and will never place one on HillRunner.com.
Ok, hate is a strong word. Maybe I don’t "hate" them. I just strongly dislike them. Never is a long time. I guess I can’t completely rule out the possibility. But don’t count on it.
Why do I so strongly dislike pre-canned plans? Because those plans assume everyone will benefit from the same things. In short, they assume we’re cookie cutter people. We’re not.
So what do I like better? I like building around a core set of principles, then adjusting to the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of the individual runner.
What does this mean in practice?
Start with core principles. If you’re going to run a marathon, you need some good long runs. For any distance race, you need a base of aerobic conditioning. You need some running at or very near race pace. You need to run faster than race pace at times. You need to run slower than race pace at times.
Don’t tie yourself to any one philosophy. Lydiard had very good ideas. Igloi had very good ideas. Coe had very good ideas. Daniels has very good ideas. The Hanson brothers have very good ideas. I could go on and on. All of these people and many others did things a little differently but they all had very good ideas and applied them in very thoughtful ways. Also, if you get to know how they worked with runners, they adjusted their core ideas to fit the needs of the runners.
Adjust according to your individual needs. Personally, I respond very well to long runs and tempo runs. I need some shorter interval work to run my best but too much burns me out. So I do a lot of long and tempo runs and use intervals sparingly. Others are just the opposite and may need a more steady dose of intervals with fewer long and tempo runs. Some people need a big base of weekly mileage to run well, others are at their best with lower volume. The key is to figure out what the best balance of variables is for you. That does mean some trial and error is necessary. Some mistakes will be made. Learn from them, improve, and move on.
In the end, there are no plans on HillRunner.com because there is no plan I can write that will be the best possible for everyone reading it. Instead, my goal is to give you the tools you need to come up with your own plan.