Why a training plan might be a brilliant idea

Now that you’ve decided to run your first or next marathon, you may ask yourself the million-dollar question:
Do I need a training plan?
On one hand, you have this one friend who run without a plan, a watch nor HR belt
– I mean, come on, where are the data if not on Strava?
– or even a cellphone – Not catching Pokemon either?? What’s wrong? Hello, 2016?!
Well this no-technology-while-running-friendly-friends of yours may have adviced you to not run by plan.
No, actually, this friend looks at you incredulously like you would speak in an unknown language.
– A training plan? What is it?
Ok. Next.
Since nothing and nobody can unseat your willpower to be well prepared for your marathon, you keep asking around.
And there you are. Some friends are preparing their marathon or half marathon following a training plan.
Hallelujah, you are not alone!
*Victory Lap*
Hm, sorry. Hello? May I have your attention, please?
I know, the euphoria when you feel belonging somewhere, even to the wide group of we-use-a-training-plan-runners. I do too. Welcome, my dear.
May I give you some advice about that so called training plan now?
Cool. There you go.

A training plan is not the holy grail for success – wait, whot?

A plan is a good thing to have but won’t guarantee the achievement of your goals. It will increase your chances to do so drastically, though.

A training plan is not necessarily the training plan. Still with me?

How to look for the holy plan?
You can go on the Internet, ask your dear friend Google to give you the best websites which can provide the perfect training plan, print the plan and just follow it every day, every session, every…
Naaa. Not convinced.
You can pick up the latest from thousands of perfect books about marathon preparation and search for THE training plan that suits your goals. That one and only.
Yeah…Na. Not convinced. There’s no such thing.

See, the problem with these kinds of plans is not that they’re bad. It’s just they are not made for you.
– Well, so you’re telling me I am not special?!
Let me clear that out.
Of course, you are special! Everyone on this planet is special and unique.
And so should be your training plan.
You are different than every other runner. So why take a plan that has been given as an orientation for everyone to have? Because this is what these kind of training plan are: an orientation, a guidance.

The best books or the Internet do not know you

As an individual, you have your history, your running style, your own level.
You may have had injuries in the past or a longer break; this marathon is your first or the fifth.
Even if your goal is to run a personal best or to cross the finish line healthy and in good shape, you might want your training plan to be tailored for you.
The Internet doesn’t know anything about you.
Ok, I take that one away.
Especially if you are on Facebook, Strava, Instagram, Snapchat, Pokemon Go, etc. *puuh*

For my first marathon, I trained after a mass plan. Yes, the one from a book. The forbidden one.
Result? I got injured the first week. For six months.
You don’t need to be as extreme as I am. But I know what I am talking about.
Why? Because one injury was not enough, after I injured myself once, I decided to follow another plan from another awesome book.
And I got injured again.
See, these books didn’t know me.
This book didn’t know my level. It didn’t know my lifestyle, my social life. It didn’t know if I have a family or a 60 hours’ week of work. This book didn’t know, and I didn’t know better.

Tailored like a suit

After my two bad experiences training for my last marathons, something had to be different.
So for my last marathon, Paris 2014, I ask a coach, Anke, from MyGoal to follow me a little bit.
The first time we talked on the phone, she asked me about my past, my actual level, etc.
MyGoal has one statement: that you cross the finish line healthy. So she never set a goal time for my marathon.
We trained as I was progressing. I ended up the marathon in 3:28H, healthy, without injury.
Of course I couldn’t take any stairs during one full week after the marathon.
But I’m getting off topic.
For the first time, I had a training plan which was tailored for my need, lifestyle, level and past regarding injuries.

Ok, that’s nice, but why should I have a plan in the first place?

We can agree on one thing. In the beginning, a training plan helps you to stay on track of your preparation. Knowing that you did your training according to a plan will be a big mental boost when lacing up at the starting line.
You know your key workouts, and following them will help improve and get the feeling of a structured training.

In comparison to the beginning of my season that started in January with a DNF and almost ended after Barcelona with an injury, I can proudly say today, that I follow a training plan for the Berlin Marathon.
And Gosh, yeah, that’s training!
That’s a structured plan I have there.
I can feel it and best, I can see it. On my body, but also in my results. Of course, sometimes, I have some low points in training. Would be a surprise if I didn’t. But this plan is my very own plan. It’s tailored for me, so if some adjustments are needed, we make them happen.

Structure, yes, but what about motivation?

Without a plan, there is the danger that you lose track. And motivation. It’s easy to skip the first session. Then the second. And then drop from the preparation completely.
Of course, that can also happen if you are following a training plan. But, see when you have a printed plan in front of you, it reminds you your goal. This paper on the wall reminds you why you started this in the first place. And this is necessary motivation right there my friend.
So skipping one session can happen. It’s ok. We’ve all been there, don’t beat yourself up.
So then you look at your plan and get the motivation again.
Because it feels like crap to skip a session sometimes.
Especially when it’s not your fault.
You fear to lose shape, your level; you are trying to make up for the lost sessions by doing more than expected the upcoming week. Not with someone by your side adjusting your training accordingly.

So if you are like me, you need a map that shows you where and how to go.
You need a plan to achieve your dream.

Motivation, structure, and company.
A training plan provides you with all these things.

So my last advice here: Take the time to choose how to make your plan.
It’s your goal, your dream.
Make it happen by making the right choice.
It’s time to #rockyourprep !


  1. True words! Brilliant writing. And after all: If you dream it, you can make it! Just do it.

    • Oriane

      Thank you Sonja! I am glad you appreciate the article! I am totally with you: Just do it!

  2. Thank you so much for the mention!

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