I know I keep lamenting that marathon training feels like forever away, but the reality is that it will be here before I know it. February 16th is right around the corner! What better way to pass the time and get myself ready than to start developing my training plan?
For marathon #1, I purchased a first-timers plan from RunnersWorld.com. It was a decent plan and it worked well enough for me. I don’t have a trainer, so purchasing a more detailed plan was a good call for me since I was new to marathoning and needed the guidance.
But this time, I wanted to take advantage of the free resources out there and build on my own experience, so I decided to make my own plan this time. Well, okay….with a lot of help from Hal Higdon. 🙂
I am using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan as my framework, and making tweaks in the long run schedule, weekly mileage, and types of workouts to suit my goals and ability. I’m trying to develop a plan for myself based on what I’ve learned about my abilities and what worked/didn’t work for me in the past. I may end up being wrong about some things, but what’s great about training plans is they are not carved in stone! I’m definitely going to be flexible and if I find something’s not working, I can adjust as I go!
- My plan is 18 weeks. Last time I did a 16 week plan and it worked out fine, but I am the first to admit that doing a short plan is risky because it doesn’t allow much wiggle room for cutback weeks and unexpected time off. I wanted a longer plan this time to accommodate the three half marathons I am running this Spring. The only way to make room for those extra races without compromising my training schedule was to add more time to the plan. Fine by me, I can start sooner!
- Long runs start at 10 miles and peak at 22, including two 20 milers. Same as last time.
- My weekly mileage starts at 27 and peaks at 52, as of now. I am still tinkering with the workouts so that may still change
- Each week (except for the week of my goal half marathon) has one speed workout. Higdon’s Intermediate plans don’t include any speed work, so I had to add my own.
- Each week has 5 days of running, 2 days of rest. The plan wants me to do 5 days of running and 1 cross training day every week, but I am changing that because I don’t work out 6 days a week. I need more than one rest day. Every once in a while I will try to work in XT, depending on my schedule, but I’m just going to be honest now and admit that it’s not gonna happen every week.
This plan is structurally very similar to my last one: rest Monday; run Tues, Weds, Thurs; rest Fri; run Saturday and Sunday. But there are a few changes that I’ll be implementing:
Weekends: Higdon has me doing a moderate length (5-10) mile run on Saturday and then a long run on Sunday. Sometimes the Saturday runs are at race pace. It’s intimidating, but I think this is an awesome strategy and I am totally up for it. It is a great way to train yourself to run on tired legs and simulate the physical demands of running a marathon. I trust ya, Hal!
More of my weekday runs will be workouts instead of just logging “junk miles” (I hate that term, but it does get the point across). I am trying to get faster and stronger and improve my marathon time, so I want more focused workouts that will help me do that. I will be very careful not to overdo it, but I want each workout to have a purpose and challenge me and help get me closer to my goals.
Although I mentioned I would only be doing sporadic XT, I will be doing body weight strength training exercises several days a week – planks, squats, bridges, lunges, etc. I love equipment-less strength training – it is so easy to do at home, it doesn’t take much time, and going to the gym and using weights is such a drag.
So…trying to fit 3 half marathon races into a marathon training schedule is kind of hard. In crafting my plan, my biggest challenge has been trying to work around my three races in weeks 7, 11, and 13 of my training.
Having a half marathon on the weekend means I can’t stick to the Saturday/Sunday thing. My last race is on a Sunday and it’s not a goal race, so I will be doing a run that Saturday but only 5 miles. For the other two, which are on Saturdays, I just decided to do a shorter “recovery” run on Sunday so my mileage for those weeks doesn’t dip too low.
Even though they are cutback weeks, I have to strike a balance each week between keeping my legs rested and fresh, and making sure I’m keeping my training mileage consistent. During the week of my goal race, the Wisconsin Half Marathon, I’ll do three runs but keep the miles easy. During the other two race weeks, I’ll throw in one speed or race pace workout but keep the other two runs easy. I can’t overdo it – even though these aren’t goal races, I still want to be able to perform well!
I am excited to be doing more speed work this time around (even more excited because with my new gym membership I’ll have access to a TRACK!! Finally!). Most of my speed work is interval workouts, because those are my favorite.
This is where I could use your help – I would love some suggestions for speed interval workouts that are more “marathon” specific. Here’s what I have, if you know of anything I could add PLEASE let me know!
My plan isn’t “done” yet, I’ll continue to tinker with it in the coming weeks, but all the parts are in place now and I could not be more excited! Get ready, Grandma’s Marathon: I’m going to be a force to be reckoned with!!