Feb | 19
Running Tips

The 5 Mental Phases of Starting a New Training Plan  

You’ve registered for your next big race. You’ve looked up various training plan options (or had one created by a certified coach). You’ve pulled out the blank calendar, ready to put in all those training runs. That’s right – it’s time to start your new training plan!

For us everyday runners, a training plan signals a new beginning. The plan could focus on a time goal, pacing another runner or taking on a brand new distance. No matter what the ultimate goal is, there are many thoughts that go through our heads during a training cycle. Let’s take a look:

1. Excitement

Your new training plan is in front of you and you smile as you think about the miles ahead. The goal has been set before you and excitement builds as you think about conquering it. Those first few weeks, your legs feel fresh. You look forward to each training run. This race will be yours!

To your co-workers and family members, they nod along as you excitedly tell them about your next race. You show them the paces you are looking to hit and how each run (tempo, interval, long, etc.) will help you achieve your goal. Deep down, you know they all think you are that crazy runner, but hey – you can’t help yourself!

2. Focus

As the weeks go on, the excitement is still there, but you find that it has turned to more of a focus. You are pushing your legs and mind as the mileage and speed increase. For some of the training runs, you may not find it as easy to get out the door, but the focus remains on your goal ahead. Once on the pavement, you think about why you are running. Keep your eyes (and legs) on the prize!

Those same co-workers and family members now see a new look in your eye. You may still talk about your training plan, but it has become more of a schedule. “I’m sorry, I can’t have a meeting at 5 PM – that is when I need to get in my weekly 6 mile tempo run.” The eye of the tiger is in full force.

The 5 Mental Phases of Starting a New Training Plan training 

3. Exhaustion

After weeks and weeks of training runs, you have officially hit peak week. Along with the longest weekly runs, you also have your ultimate long run ahead. You drag yourself from place to place, fueling on pasta and gels to keep your energy up. Yes, you know it will all be worth it on race day, but you are definitely ready to just relax on the couch.

Your co-workers and family members believe there is something truly wrong with you. After all, you are walking around in compression gear, eating like there is no tomorrow and talking about running insane amounts of miles. It’s possible they are just as ready for you to relax as well!

4. Anxiousness

It’s officially taper time! Long gone are the high mileage days. After the exhaustion of peak week, you couldn’t be more excited. Then it hits you, race day is just days away. Suddenly you are worried about every minor ache or pain. You stalk the weather every 30 minutes. The course map and elevation are viewed over and over.

Your co-workers and family members are more than a little concerned about you. Not only are you extremely anxious (and aren’t able to run it off), you have gone through an entire bottle of hand sanitizer and chew on Airborne tablets like candy. “Crazy runner” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

5. Eagerness

The 5 Mental Phases of Starting a New Training Plan race day

Before you know it, it’s almost time to toe the line of the race you have been working toward for months. You’ve experienced all of the various emotions as you worked through your training plan. The mileage is in the tank, now it’s time to enjoy your victory lap!

As for those co-workers and family members? They are rooting for you. Or maybe they are just ready for that “normal” person to return. Little do they know us crazy runners are far from normal. We enjoy every minute of our training plans.

And we already have a next race to start training for.

About Megan Biller
Megan is a writer and runner who has completed multiple 5K, 10K, half marathon, 25K and marathon races, including the multi-day Dopey Challenge. She loves to run local races in her home state of Michigan, yet also enjoys the magic of runDisney events.