Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Training Plans

There is no shortage of formal plans for the runner preparing for his or her first marathon. Whether you have three months or six months until the race, there's a plan for you. Whether you are ready to run six times per week or only have time for three runs per week; whether you want to top out your long runs at 18 miles or 22 miles, or not do the long run at all; whether you love or loathe speedwork; there's a plan for you.

But if you have just completed one race, and want to get ready for your second? Not so much.

I guess I could sit on my butt until New Years', and then start again from square one. Not that I ever really followed a formal plan getting ready for the 50K; I didn't have the discipline. Mostly, I just ran what I felt like running, while trying to incorporate the basic principles of a typical marathon training plan, including tempo runs, gradually longer long runs, recovery weeks, and the like. I also made a few adjustments, like running on trails and extending my longest run out to 25 miles.

I am eager to get out running again as soon as I can (meaning, as soon as I can walk normally). So, what will my basic principles be as I start to get ready for the Burlington marathon? I think that, on top of my shorter runs, two or three times per month I am going to run as far as I can at my target marathon pace of 9:10. (Last time I checked, I could hold that pace for about 10 miles). Plus, once a month or so, I am going to do a long run of three hours. Hopefully by spring, the 9:10 runs and the three-hour runs will merge into the same thing, and then I can make refinements from there.

But, I am still thinking this through, and would love to hear any suggestions!


  1. I'm glad you wrote this, because i've been pondering, and dreading, putting together a training plan. I say dread because at the moment I just don't have the time for runs longer than an hour other than the weekend, and suspect that committing to a training plan will involve getting up at an even more ungodly hour than I do now. Still, it seems like this more structured approach is the only way to get into marathon shape (and to ensure that I kick your ass). Having said that, I've been putting off pulling together a training plan because, like you, I currently just "run what I felt like running" and go from there. For me, part of what I love about running is the freedom it gives me from anything else - while i'm on the road, that's all i'm focused on, and I worry that pulling together a training plan will take some of the fun out of it. Still, I *do* want to increase my endurance, so we should commit to doing this together, even if we'll be coming at our plans from different perspectives (although you can wear both the "endurance" and "crazy" hats if you like - Eric doesn't have a monolopy on crazy in these parts).

    Do you have a particular training plan tool in mind?

  2. I don't have a tool in mind because I'm not sure I'll ever have *that much* of a plan. When I was preparing for the 50K, my plan was basically to run long every other week (or at worst, every third week); to try to increase my long runs by 1-2 miles each time; to run as often as I could during the week; and to generally cut back every third or fourth week to give myself a break.

    Not much of a "plan," eh? I'm sure that, if I had been more rigidly structured, I would have raced faster. But, as you said, it would have taken the fun out of it. For me, I'd rather have the fun.

    That being said, let's figure out a way to achieve our goals *and* to have fun!

  3. i'm using nike+ coach with common sense. the key principles:

    1. long run every OTHER week (make sure to give my body plenty of time to recovery)
    2. alternating weeks of tempo runs and speed work (once a week). longer tempo runs on the weeks off from long runs. (to be honest, this one i'm going to play by feel... if i'm not up for it, i have no problem bagging. i think my foot turnover is plenty fast enough to reach goal pace at this point, so it's just finding the fueling and conditioning to extend that to goal distance).
    3. a LONG plan (6 months) based on first establishing a good cardio base (slow runs over an hour), then progressing into the above.
    4. 4 20+ mile runs. many will say this is too much. and if it feels like that, i'll back off... but this is how i want to do it.
    4. 4 week taper.

    the plan will involve anywhere between 15 miles per week to start and 48 max before the taper.

    and, beyond a doubt... anything that isn't "fun" (fun for me certainly involves pushing the limits, feeling a little pain) will be reconsidered and probably nixed.