I've been using the free Chicago marathon training plan from iRunnerblog. It's a great paired down plan with 4 running days and a cross training day per week. The basics are covered: pace training, speed training, long run, but as training plans go it's pretty spare.
I like it that way as I'm not trying to qualify for anything on this one, just going to finish feeling good. If my 18 mile this last Saturday is any indication I think I'll be fine. It looks like I'm in the 4.25 hour range, which is pretty slow, but it's my first and I'm mostly elated that I'm not injured right now, so I'm taking it easy on the foot to make sure.
I've been wondering about training plans in general as I had to take 2 weeks off for my foot, and was still able to jump right back in to the schedule on Sat. It seems that many people take them as guidelines and adapt them as they need to. Of course, that's par for the course but how important is it to keep close to a plan like this?
The answer is what you'd expect. Life is going to interfere with a rigid schedule and you're going to have to account for that. I asked Jason Robillard this exact question on Sun. He answered what I thought he might: running schedules are important but it's more important to listen to your body and do what feels right. You push when you have it in you to push, but if something isn't right it's equally important to take time to keep a short term injury from becoming a chronic problem.
The guys at IRunnerblog are pretty great when it comes to answering questions. I asked them what to do when I started feeling my foot acting up. They said take it easy, take care of foot, cross train, make up for lost time when everything is in working order. The injury slowed me down and my pace will not be what I hoped it would. on the other hand slowing down kept me running, and I won't be selling my spot in the Chicago. That's good news in my book.
Hope I'm going to see some of my Chitown homies out there on the course cheering for the barefoot fool that should know better.