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plan the year: learn from the past

I have been busy this last week. Not just busy preparing to return to my day job but busy reflecting on the last year of training. I have been analysing the good and the bad. Identifying the sequences that led to good feeling and those that led to tired legs and sub-par running. The time to finalise the plan for the Oregano Project 2.0 is now.

Last year I constructed a ‘plan’ of sorts. Really it was a year of experiments – experiments largely run by feel. I defined my weekly mileage from the outset but long runs flowed according to the result of each predecessor. I pushed myself hard, discovered much, and gathered some interesting results.

plan v1.0 (2020 edition)

One lesson I took from last year’s effort is that I need more upfront knowledge of my long runs. Plotting outline weekly mileage was useful for the purpose of upping my ambitions. However, it did lead to slightly poor planning week-on-week. I need to be honest with myself about that before attempting to plan anything for the year ahead.

the plan for 2020: meet The Oregano Project 2.0 2.0
the plan for 2020: meet The Oregano Project 2.0 2.0

The image above is what I have roughly outlined so far. Only two thirds of the year have anything beyond weekly mileage in them so far. This isn’t laziness. It’s because I need to learn from the outcome of the Spring marathon in Tralee. From this I will determine how I need to handle the rest of the year.

Lots of strength training (weights) again (no surprises there). However, I have also made yoga (or good stretching at least) a part of my weekly practice this year. I have never done yoga in my life (insert ‘beginners guide to…’) but given my badly practiced stretching routine in everyday activity, I feel it is necessary. We’re not getting any younger!


While the plan has been drafted with a certain degree of mindfulness there are still many gaps to be filled. I don’t want to complete them all just yet however. Filling in the full spectrum of runs at this point may be a little cavalier and naive. First I’m going to see out January. Finish the first of the 18-mile runs and then come back to this.

Each week might be planned on Monday, I don’t know yet. At least for a while until I build up enough of a feeling to know how much I can stay on the edge. This isn’t like last year when I had no early marathon goals. Running myself ragged wasn’t a problem last year. This next block of training is just a slightly protracted lead-in to the next target marathon. Hence the reason I have structured the long runs as so, again allowing for a very shallow taper. I still feel that this is a valid approach.

However, I have set one midweek run in stone. I’m instructing myself to complete one steady run (i.e. around race pace) over a very hilly route, for a minimum of 12 miles, every two weeks. I feel my lead-in to Dublin last year was missing the occasional punishing run over long hills. This will hopefully counter that and improve the strength required to keep pushing forward.


Overall I’m pretty happy with the outline plan. There are still a lot of unknowns coming off the back of last year’s experiments. The effort for Tralee will be one of focus, if perhaps still slightly open for ab-lib running in some respects. There is a strong base here and I will capitalise upon it.

I posted to my Instagram story recently about a workout Stephen Scullion and Tommy Rivs were doing. Blown away by their attitude and grit, I tagged them in a post saying so. Stephen responded, “build it buddy, it’s grown“. I’m taking that as my mantra for the year ahead. I’m gonna build it; not gonna quit til it’s done. Let’s do this!

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