I spent a lot of time researching different training plans, and it was honestly a little intimidating. I stuck to the "beginner" plans since many of the intermediate plans required workouts at specific paces...which assumes you actually know what pace you're trying for and can quantify it in more detail than "don't die." I wanted something simple to follow, so I went for one that simply dictated how many miles to run each day. The plan was just to slowly build my endurance over the next 3 months.
Even narrowing down plans this much left a TON of options. I finally just took a couple different ones, put them into Excel, and calculated a happy medium between them. I manipulated it a little bit because I also wanted to incorporate one day a week for my TurboKick class at the gym (Hi, I'm Janet, and I'm a TurboKick addict). Here is what I ended up with:
A training plan is like a recipe. There are a million different ways to bake chocolate chip cookies (hmm, I'm hungry), and none of them are wrong. You can use more/less of certain ingredients, substitute ingredients, bake at different temperatures for different amounts of time, etc. Regardless, you still end up with chocolate chip cookies. When you pick a training plan, it's important to pick one that works with what you have. You may only have 3 days a week to run, or you may want to incorporate weights or other cross-training. You may need to re-arrange your schedule on certain weeks. I believe there are 2 key ingredients in a beginner's training plan: 1) Consistent weekly runs to get your body used to pounding the pavement, and 2) Slowly-increasing long runs to build endurance. The other details can be changed as needed, but if you follow this recipe, you will end up with a delicious chocolate chip cookie...err, race. And you will totally burn enough calories to make up for an entire batch of cookies!