Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cherry Blossom Training: In-Person vs. Virtual Training Programs

I am training for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler though the =PR= in-person training program.  At some point I must have also signed-up for the virtual-training program, because I receive a daily e-mail about my workout for the day, along with some tips.  I thought folks might be interested in some of the similarities & differences between the programs.

The biggest difference, of course, is that the in-person program is IN-PERSON.  I run my long runs with a group and our coaches on Sundays and we also have in-person track sessions on Tuesdays.  It is nice to have the motivation of running with others and easy access to our coaches for all kinds of questions.

Another big difference is price.  The virtual program is completely free. The in-person training is $99, which includes a New Balance long-sleeve shirt or half-zip and a $10 gift certificate to Potomac River Running stores.  It also includes the =PR= training program (which is very different from the virtual program) and special discounts for the =PR= store and races.  There is also a premium version of the program that costs $209 - it also includes a bib for the race (great for anyone who didn't get into the lottery) and a voucher for a pair of New Balance Shoes.

The training programs are quite different.  The =PR= program is distance based, while the virtual program is time-based.  You also get the entire 10-week =PR= program up front and for all three levels - beginner, intermediate, advanced.  With the virtual program I seem to only see one week and one level at a time. 

My =PR= beginner program for this week included four workouts (this is a proprietary program and I will not share additional details beyond this snapshot):
  • 2-4 miles very easy (on my own)
  • 2-3 miles very easy (on my own)
  • Long run of 5-7 miles (with the training group)
  • (optional) track workout: 1200-800-400 steady pace w/ 1-2 min recovery jog between (with the training group) 
The virtual beginner program for this week looked like this (again, a proprietary program and I will not share additional details beyond this snapshot):
  • Monday: rest day
  • Tuesday: 40 minutes - walk 1 min, run 4 min (8 times)
  • Wednesday: 28 minutes - walk 1 min, run 6 min (4 times)
  • Thursday: 42 minutes - walk 1 min, run 5 min (7 times)
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: 42 minutes - walk 1 min, run 6 min (6 times)
  • Sunday: 32 minutes - walk 1 min, run 7 min (4 times)
Both programs include coaches tips/inspiration.  For the in-person program, I receive a weekly email with any information about the week's program, and it includes a "topic" of the week.  This week's topic focused on incorporating races into your training schedule, which was very timely for me.  For the virtual program, many of my daily emails have a "tip" included with them.  This week's virtual program tips included:
  • the importance of the rest day
  • a shout-out to New Balance's new "fresh foam" shoes
  • a reminder about road safety when running
  • an assurance that it is okay if you find you need more sleep after starting a vigorous exercise program
  • a suggestion to train with what will be available on the course (i.e., Gatorade Endurance Formula)
  • a reminder about the importance of stretching
I love having information from both programs available to me - I can never get enough tips as I prepare for this challenge!  Both programs have excellent information and will prepare you for the race.  For me, however, nothing beats the in-person component - it is invaluable to me to run with others and see my coaches in-person!

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