A few weeks ago, I wrote about starting my Marine Corps Marathon training plan. I had decided to do Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan, which includes four days of running per week, with the thought that I might add in a fifth day on some weeks.
However, I was reading the July issue of Runner’s World while on vacation, and that issue included an intermediate training plan designed to help runners who have run one marathon and average 25 miles per week hit their best time.
This plan calls for five days of running per week, and includes hill workouts, speed workouts, two 20-milers, AND a 22-miler (yikes). I read the accompanying article and got more excited about this plan than the Higdon one; it seems to have more of the elements I will need to not only complete the distance, but to run faster and stronger than I have before. (I can’t seem to find a copy of the plan online; all the plans on the Runner’s World website are for sale.)
While Higdon’s plan would be manageable, the Runner’s World plan would challenge me and stretch me to see what I am capable of. I am under no delusions that I am any kind of a fast runner, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that if I am going to put the time into marathon training, I might as well go all in and see how hard I can train, how much stronger I can get. First and foremost, I want to cross the finish line, but I also want to try to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
Since this new plan is a 16-week plan, it worked out perfectly that I could begin it this week, my first week back from Mexico. While in Mexico, I did manage to run three times, which I didn’t expect. Each time, I just did short runs of about 4 miles, which were really fun ways to see a new place.
So, this week I began marathon training under this new plan.
(If you’re interested, a PDF of the full plan is here. I also want to continue bike commuting most days, doing yoga about once a week, and doing simple leg/arm/core work at home, but I didn’t fill all those in for every week; I usually just plan those out one week at a time. The days in green are the days I am traveling. I have two pairs of running shoes that I alternate, and I keep track of them in red and blue text.)
The first week has been awesome; despite being exhausted from our Mexico trip, having to take an overnight work trip, and being overwhelmed with work, I hit all of my runs this first week and felt great. I did 6 miles incorporating hills on Tuesday, 6 miles easy on Wednesday, 3 miles easy on Friday, and 9 miles long and slow yesterday. The five-days-a-week thing scared me, but I recently read that running your long run on somewhat tired legs is actually better for you, because it forces you to learn how to run even when tired, and ensures that you stick to the “long slow distance run” method, wherein your long run pace is about a minute slower than marathon goal pace.
Yesterday’s 9 miles felt good and steady; I aimed to keep my pace between 10:00 and 10:30/mile, with the hope that my marathon pace will be around 9:20/mile, and that worked out just fine. Near the end I had a few hills to climb, but I refused to let myself walk and finished feeling good.
The biggest thing that I am concerned about is being able to hit all of these runs with my work and travel schedule. I work around 60 hours/week and travel for work pretty regularly, and when I’m traveling, I usually have pretty stressful days that involve early mornings and late evenings. I know that marathon training is going to mean some very early morning hotel treadmill runs; turning down social events in the evenings; and being tired a lot of the time. But I am so determined to make it happen, to not only commit to this plan but to do it well.