Here we go again! It’s time for another marathon training cycle! It’s been a little over a month since the OBX Marathon and I feel fully rested and ready to tackle another training plan. My training actually officially started this past Monday, so my next post will be recapping my first week of training. [Spoiler alert: It was AWESOME!]
I am doing things differently this time around. Last time my training plan was 20 weeks long because I was building back up after having a baby. This time I have only 10 weeks to train, which is fine because I’m at a better fitness level now. But since I have less time I really want to make sure I get the most of the time I do have, so I am following the ideas in the Run Less, Run Faster book. I have done this type of training before for a few marathons and really loved it. The basic idea is to run 3 times a week (1 speedwork run, 1 tempo run, 1 long run) at specific paces, and cross-train on the days in between. It’s about the quality of miles rather than the quantity, and I think this style of training is perfect for me right now. I have 3 big reasons why I am taking this approach.
1. I dealt with a lot of injury issues in the past year (my falls, hurting my knee, foot pain, etc.), and I think it was due in large part to not doing strength-training and cross-training like I should have. Before having Baby Kevin I went to Body Pump 2x a week and cross-trained pretty regularly. I have struggled with that over the past year since I have less time now as a mom. When I did have time I always chose running over anything else. This, along with the effects of pregnancy on my body, led to some imbalances in my muscles and my body in general and I think that’s why I kept getting injured and had a hard time fully recovering and bouncing back afterwards. That’s why this time it’s super important for me to make sure I incorporate cross-training and strength-training into my routine. Running only 3 times a week will give me the time I need to do that.
2. It’s winter, which means it’s cold and dark and VERY hard for me to get out of bed. Knowing that I only have to get up early to run twice during the weekdays is very appealing! On the other days I can take an evening gym session instead, and on the weekends I can sleep a little later before heading out for my long run.
3. I want a PR- badly! The only way to get faster is to run faster, and this plan has me running at specific and challenging paces. I’m excited to see what I can do!
A typical week in my training plan looks like this:
- 3 days of running (1 speedwork run, 1 tempo run, 1 long run)
- 2-3 days of cross-training/strength-training (walking, spinning, rowing, yoga, body pump, core work, etc.)
- 1 full rest day
- DAILY: stretch, foam/stick roll
Here is the whole plan. I did have to adapt it since the plan in the book is obviously longer than 10 weeks. I mainly adapted the long runs, since I really only have 7 weeks to build up before tapering down again [Click to enlarge].
Here is where it gets scary. Like I said, I want a PR. Badly. I have big goals for myself before baby #2 comes along. I have mentioned before that I want to PR at every distance before getting pregnant again, and so far I have at the 5K, 10K and 1o mile distances since having Kevin. That leaves the full and half marathon.
The Run Less, Run Faster book uses a recent 5K race time to determine the different training paces for your speedwork runs, tempo runs and long runs. I used my most recent 5K time of 22:29 and was shocked at the training paces it said I should be running. I thought it must be wrong, so I plugged my time into the McMillan Running Calculator to compare. Sure enough, they were the same. My immediate thought when I saw them was, “No way can I hit those paces.” But the more I thought about it the more I started to believe that I could. And besides, how would I know if I didn’t at least try? Maybe I won’t be able to hit them right now, but I can at least work towards it.
The thing about this training method is that there are no easy runs. That’s why it’s about quality miles over quantity. I only will run 3 times a week but each one will take a lot of effort, focus, and stamina. Cross training in between these hard workouts will help my legs recover and get them ready for the next run. When I followed this plan before I became a lot stronger and faster, and my legs never felt burnt out or overly fatigued. So I am willing to give it a shot. Who knows? Maybe I’ll surprise myself.
My current marathon PR is 4:00:04. I ran a 4:06 marathon last month with no watch and without really even trying. I know I can run a sub-4 marathon. In fact, when I put my 5K PR from October into the McMillan Running Calculator, it says I should be able to run these times at the other distances (with proper training). a 3:39 marathon? 8:22 pace? Can I really do that?
When I put a (more realistic) goal time of a 3:55 marathon into the calculator, it told me that I should be able to hit these times at other distances in order to achieve that. What’s interesting is that I have already hit all of these times. My PR at the 5K, 10K, and 1/2 marathon are all faster than that. So I SHOULD be able to get a sub-4 marathon if I can stay injury free during training.
So with all that being said, here are the training paces I will be working towards for each of the 3 key runs. I got these paces from the Run Less, Run Faster book and the McMillan Running Calculator. The long runs are based around the suggested goal marathon pace of 8:22, although I have a hard time saying my time goal is a 3:39 marathon. I just want sub-4, but I’m willing to try to hit the paces they are suggesting.
This plan scares me, but I am SO READY for the challenge and I’m so ready to finally get my sub-4 marathon. Bring it on!