I haven’t written specifically about running lately, and with just under 11 weeks to go until the Paris Marathon, now seems like a good time.
I ran off and on in December, as much as I could considering the amount of travel I did. Strictly speaking, if I was doing a full 18-week training plan I should have begun my training in early December, but I think 18 weeks is a bit too long to be strictly training, especially since I already had a decent base, and I knew I needed to be realistic about how much running I would get in while traveling.
Throughout November and December, I consistently ran 3 to 4 times per week, topping out at 10 miles for my longest runs, and went to yoga about 3 times per week and spin about once a week on the weeks that I was in London, and also tried to keep doing various strength exercises to keep my glutes in line and at least pretend to build up a little core and upper body strength (though to be honest I’m not sure I got anywhere with that).
I am using Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Program, mostly sticking to his Intermediate 2 Plan but making some variations when needed. I’ve usually used Hal’s plans in the past and been generally pretty happy with them. He calls for five days of running per week, and while I really like to run five or six days per week, I know that ups my risk of injury so I have been doing more like four runs/week, five if I can fit it in.
Up until this week, I was substituting a spin class at BOOM for one short run per week, but my BOOM credits ran out this week and I’m not going to buy more soon, in the interest of saving some money and having more flexibility in my schedule for running and yoga and other activities. I know that spinning is good cross-training, but I’m going to forego that and try to convince myself to do more strength work and NTC workouts at home.
It is really hard to pick a training plan and stick to it, when there are so many options out there and everyone has an opinion. Plus, when you are picking a generic plan off the Internet, you have to know that it is not tailor-made for you and that it’s unrealistic to stick to it perfectly, and yet, I feel like it is still important for me to stick to a plan because I like the structure and accountability that goes with following directions. While I have the experience of several rounds of marathon training over the past few years, I do like to have a set plan since I’m certainly no expert and I don’t want to just wing it. I also know my risks for injuries if I adhere too strictly to a plan, so I hope I am striking the right balance this time around.
Most importantly, I need to be able to tweak my plan around some work and personal travel that I have planned for February and March. I always run when I travel, yet there are certain situations about which I need to be realistic. For instance, a four-day work conference that I know will include 12+ hour days with early starts, in DC in the winter? A 20-mile run simply will not happen that week, and I’d be setting myself up to fail if I even tried to schedule that.
So, I have been officially on the training plan since my first long run back of the new year, right after returning from our Christmas trip. I met up with some TNR girls for my first group long run, and it was fantastic to get involved with other runners going through the same things I am. I ran through Green Park and St. James Park to meet the others, then we ran along the Thames from Southbank to Tower Bridge to Westminster, and concluded with brunch.
I’ve done a bunch of other runs alone, including a nice speedy tempo on the river before yoga one Saturday morning, and other mid-week long runs to and around Hyde Park and Battersea Park, and up and down the Thames Path.
This past Sunday, I met some TNR girls for the Run Through Hyde Park 10K and some pre-race miles. I was nervous about the timing of this because I had to run from my flat to Westminster, then meet some of the group at Southbank, then pick up more along the way, and get to Hyde Park in time to get our numbers and start the race. Tricky! Oh and this also was meant to total to 16 miles for me, the longest I have run in over a year, and I was seriously worried about whether I could do it.
Luckily, everything went so smoothly. I basically broke my run into three parts (solo, with the group, then the race itself) and for each running segment I felt strong.
I ended up doing 16.6 miles altogether and felt great. It is so nice to meet new friends through running; many of the others did Paris last year and are training for London or other races this year, plus I’ve met a few running Paris this year as well.
The race itself was great too; I was certainly not aiming for a PB but it was a nice two laps around Hyde Park with a small group of friendly runners, very easy and low-key. Looking forward to doing another in Greenwich Park in a few weeks time!
So, with 11 weeks to go, I am feeling good. Nervous about doing 26.2 miles straight through. I have definitely had some runs where I have not felt great and had to stop and stretch or walk for a bit. I’m also worried about getting injured, but I’ve been foam rolling all the time and trying to keep up with my PT exercises, and I do think yoga helps as well.
At this point, my main goals are:
1) Get through the whole training cycle without injury and make it to the start,
2) Get through the 26.2 miles and finish happy,
3) Run the entire distance without stopping to walk,
4) Beat my PB of 4:42,
5) Achieve a time in the 4:15 – 4:30 range.
I’ll check in on those time goals as it gets closer, but that seems most realistic for now. Here’s hoping the next 11 weeks go smoothly!