Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan – Fall Marathon Training

CIR Program note: Join me live here on the blog during the early morning broadcast of the women’s Olympic marathon 6 am ET, Sunday, August 5th. I’ll be live blogging through the event and you can live comment through it and that way we can feel like we are watching it together but no one has to get out of their PJ’s. GO TEAM USA!!!!!!

Marathon training started this week! Yahoo! I am signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon , set for Sunday, November 18th. As previously noted, this is race is a favorite of mine for a number of reasons. In the spirit of my Lizzie, here is a list why:

1.  Mid-November is usually prime running weather in the Northeast. Many years have been near perfect conditions – bright sunny skies, high temps in the 50s or 60s.

2. The course is fantastic – plenty of eye candy to keep your mind occupied (Center City, Fairmount Park, Kelly Drive, Manayunk) and not too hilly, which suits this flatlander just fine (all my hill work is completed on Ocean Drive bridges. Not ideal, but it’s what I have to work with!).

3. The crowds are great. There are also quiet parts of the course, but I like that. I don’t mind slipping inside myself for periods of time and when you do once again hit a wall of spectators, it feels even more exciting. There is something wonderfully human about marathon spectating – the people who are willing to spend their day cheering on a loved one for few seconds and then hours of cheering on strangers speaks volumes of what our species is capable of. Philly does not disappoint as there is usually a group of people in the Park that dress up in 80s workout clothes and dance to songs like “Let’s Get Physical”, there are the hootin’ and hollerin’ frat boys and sorority sisters, and the people in Manayunk party like it’s 1999, despite the fact that it is 9 am.

4. The race has become more popular in the years that I have been participating (almost doubling in size!) but the race director has done a really good job of growing it smartly. It is very well organized, from the bib pick-up, to the bag drop in UPS trucks, to the corral start (hurray for running with people at your same pace and not being hemmed in!), to the finish line, where despite there being tens of thousands of people, you don’t feel like you have to walk forever to reunite with yours (I’m looking at you, Chicago).

But to enjoy all those things, I first have to make it to the start line.  This can be easier said than done – most marathon training plans are ~16 weeks and an awful lot can happen to derail your plans in 4 months. Family emergencies, injuries, unexpected life events and sometime just a lack of motivation can all conspire against you.  I am among the runners of the world that is very goal driven and wild horses couldn’t drag me away from a plan once I have committed to it. It’s a blessing and a curse (just ask  GD or Lil Sis what a joy I can be because it’s not just race plans that I have a hard time of letting go of once I have my mind set on something!), but for marathon training it’s a blessing. Unless I lose a limb, I’ll be there… and even that is questionable, cause I am kinda a little in love with the Flex-Foot Cheetah and would definitely hop on that carbon fiber train.

I thumbed through a fair number of training plans trying to decide which to try this time around. I want to PR so I needed a plan to help me achieve that. My current PR is 3:57:59 (Garmy said I hit 26.2 at 3:55:xx but that’s not official). This number drives me crazy. Crawl the walls, strap me in a straightjacket and videotape me crying about leaving Britney Spears alone bat-shit crazy! Yes, I am proud of it and worked hard for it… but according to running calculators like this one, my times at other distances would suggest a much faster marathon.  These potential marathon times that the calculator so casually presents to me are the digits I obsess over. “What if, what if, what if?” each footfall during training seems to say.

I will be using the intermediate plan (see below) I found in Runner’s World a few months ago, with some Kashi tweaks. I will try to do as much hill training as South Jersey allows and round it out with more speedwork than is called for to make up the difference. I prefer to have Mondays and Fridays off,  so I will follow a Tuesday (speedwork or hills), Wednesday (easy), Thursday (tempo or some MP mixed with easy), Saturday (long run) and Sunday (easy) schedule.  I will add more tempo work to Thursday workouts than is called for, since I really feel it was the tortuous tempo runs that helped me run my fastest half-marathon.  I will probably add a few more miles in the early weeks, since I am regularly running more than 30 miles right now and I hate going backwards (but I will do this by feel since the speedwork and tempos I will be doing incorporates faster paces than I have run in some time, so it will be critical to make sure my body feels fresh and lower mileage may be the answer to that).  I really love that this plan has multiple 20 (or 22) milers, I think that is going to be perfect for building for mental toughness and confidence. I am also excited to see how the foundation I laid during ultra-running training will translate to this cycle.

Among the many running rituals I engage in is this one – I must have a handwritten plan that hangs on my fridge (I then log the outcomes of all these runs in Excel. Sounds obsessive, but it is an incredible training tool that most running nuts use – whether it is in Excel, on Training Peaks, or through their Garmins, those numbers are the key to cracking your running code). I like standing in front of it, looking at the weeks of running to come and picturing what those long runs are going to be like (as much as I appreciate what tempo runs do for me, nothing will ever touch my love of going  long).

I have much more to say about marathon training, but for Pete’s sake, we have 4 months! I’ll shut my trap for now and just look forward to all the training tales we will share as we enter the fall race season together!

What training plans do you follow?

Do you change them up, or follow to the tee?

What is your favorite part of training?

See ya Sunday!! Go Desi (provided she starts, hoping so!), Shalane and Kara!


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11 responses to “Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan – Fall Marathon Training

  1. Bel

    First of all, yay for your marathon training! I’m looking forward to reading about it – I’ve always been curious about how people train for these things! Secondly, I’m going to sound completely stupid here. Garmy/Garmin…same thing? I am familiar with the GPS Garmin that most people use in the car, but is there a separate one for running that you’re using? And lastly, your PR is kinda impressive (I think)! My sister trained for a few marathons, and she was aiming for under 5 hours and came around 4:30, I think. Go you!

    • Yes, Garmy is my pet name for my Garmin 405. He’s my BFF for reals. One time he broke and since we were saving for the wedding I decided to run without him for a few months – it was so sad! I thought it would be good for me not to concentrate on numbers, but really I was just depressed without my bud! Turns out he was fine, I just needed a new charger and when we were reunited, it was awesome! Lil sis also has a Garmin, hers is named Prince Michael Garmy and when our friend Kat got her Garmin a few months ago, they named him Blanket 🙂 The thing with marathon times is they are so subjective! What is great for one person would be disappointing for another and v.v…. the whole “you are only racing yourself” is one of my fav things about the sport 🙂 This may be a big prediction, but I bet you have a marathon in your future one day!

  2. So excited for you… and totally looking forward to following your training journey. I completely understand about those marathon prediction calculators. According to them, I should have been able to run a 3:32 marathon on my first attempt. Shyeah! LOL! Then again, I know how many years it’s taken to become more efficient at the shorter distances; the marathon is no different. Just takes time on the legs… which you have definitely put in this year. I think you are going to run your way to a sweet PR, Chris! I don’t wanna jinx ya or anything, but I don’t know, I just feel it in my bones. 🙂 So, to answer your questions: I follow my own training plans for all distances and will often modify as I go depending on the biofeedback that I get. My training for both of my marathons was very base heavy, with just a sprinkling of pace work. I did no speedwork. I think my legs are tough enough to handle the distance now, so it’s probably time to incorporate a steady diet of those other elements. I’m definitely looking forward to my next marathon go-round (I should fly up and run with you- LOVE that Philly course). My most favorite part of training? LOL! I’m one of those “train to race” peeps. I love to race; I’d rather sleep in and skip the training. The daily training allows me to have ice cream now and then, so I guess that’s my most favorite part. 🙂

    • Sherry, nothing would be more awesome than running Philly with you again!! We had so fun that first time and this time you could push me, yahoo!!! If not then, we should def make a plan to do a race together. Melissa Tucker and I were talking about doing that since she moved and I think making it a big ol marathon road trip would be so fun! My friend Meg meets with a grp of girls for races and they sound like the best weekends!

      I can’t believe you have posted your times with little/no speedwork or tempos! Watch out3:32, Sherry is coming for ya! And I appreciate the good vibes your bones are sending me, I’ll take every bit of positiveness I can get!!

      You are like lil sis in training for the race, that is her MO for sure.
      PS ice Cream is a fav post-race indulgence for me – mint choco chip, please!

  3. lauren kisiel

    Where is the part of marathon training when you look at you hand written training program and say “its too brrrrrrrrr out”

    • This is a perfect example of how every plan is tailored to suit the needs of the runner. For you, there would be “brrr” days included and instead of MP for 2 miles, it might be “hate the guy doing something he in enjoying for 2 miles” , lol.

  4. I am using a custom version of the beginner plan found in the Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon training. It kind of falls in between the beginner and intermediate plan.

    I am following this one pretty close, but I don’t sweat it if I have to adjust it some. My favorite part of training is crossing the day off the calendar and watching race day get closer and closer.

    • Agreed! Do you write out your plan or is it in an electronic format? I log all my stuff in excel, but I still like having a handwritten calendar on my fridge to check off each workout day by day 🙂 I see that you are also training for Philly. Can’t wait to see how your training progresses! I love being at the same place in a cycle as someone doing the same race. It’s nice to go through it together!

      • I also have a handwritten calendar hanging on my wall. I jot down my actual workout next to the one scheduled and cross each day off as it goes by.

        I also keep a handwritten journal specifically for the Philly Marathon training. I log specific details about the day and the workouts and I can look back on it to measure my progress and keep my motivation up.

      • i was just talking to my friend sherry (also doing philly!) about how important of a training tool those journals are. super handy and very motivating!

  5. Pingback: Anxiety Comes A Knockin’ | Cape Island Runners

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