Even though I am in total Grandma’s Marathon mode (16 days!!), I can’t ignore the fact that training for Marathon #3 is coming up soon too. I don’t even have a training plan yet, which is crazy for a super planner-y type like me!
The thought of training for my fall marathon is both exciting (I’m looking forward to moving on and trying something new) and dreadful (it’s hard to stomach the fact that I barely have any downtime after Grandma’s before I need to jump right back in!).
The more marathons I do, the more confident I get individualizing and developing my own plans. For my first marathon, I used a pre-developed first timers plan. For Grandma’s, I used Hal Higdon and Hansons as a framework and tweaked it to my liking. For my upcoming Milwaukee Marathon training I am basically ridin’ solo, drawing on the knowledge I’ve gleaned from my last two training cycles to craft a plan myself.
Today I’m giving you a glimpse into my process for mapping out a training plan all on my own. Please note that I’m obviously not a kind of fitness, running, health or training expert; I’m just sounding off about this upcoming training cycle. And, as you’ll see later on in this post – I will need YOUR help, too!
So, here’s how it’s been going down in training-plan-planning land:
Consider my goals
This is the first thing I need to do because it shapes everything – how I will structure my plan, what I will focus on, what kind of workouts I need to do.
I decided long ago that I will not have a time goal for the Milwaukee Marathon. If things go sour at Grandma’s I might change my mind about this, but I need a break from that nonsense for a while.
However, I do have a big goal for this fall – I want to break 1:45 in the half marathon. This will be a challenge for me – it would be at least a 4 minute PR. But based on my current level of fitness level now – 3-4 months out – I think it is very doable for me if I can really focus on it this season.
What that means is that I have to do a delicate balancing act: I need to keep up the mileage necessary to be able to run a marathon in November, but I need to scale back just a smidge so that I have more energy each week to do the harder, faster workouts necessary to build speed for my shorter distance goal. I’m a big advocate of running half marathons during marathon training – I’ve found from my experience that the higher mileage of marathon training helps me cover the half marathon distance more easily without fading in the last few miles. However, during this cycle I also learned that super-high mileage with minimal taper leaves me with residual fatigue that comes back to bite me on race day.
My other big goal for this training cycle is less tangible but just as important – I want to have more balance in my training. I want to become a more well-rounded athlete and improve my all-around fitness. Translation: I want to incorporate a wider variety of endurance training via cross-training, strength training and drills, and yoga.
Look at my schedule
Next up, I need to take a look at my summer schedule to see if there is anything that will impact my training time. Usually there isn’t (I have no life), but – oh look! I am going on a week long vacation in August! We are going on a cruise with Kevin’s family, leaving on a Saturday and coming back the next Sunday. I’m sure I will still be able to run and workout during the week, but due to the timing of the cruise I will miss two long runs. I can probably find a way to sneak one in (maybe do one on Friday before I leave and split it into 8 AM, 8 PM), and hopefully missing the other won’t be the end of the world.
Other than that, we do have a very busy summer but almost all of it is here in town so I won’t have to miss much running.
I have three races this summer – a 10 miler on July 26th, and my two half marathons on September 6th and 26th.
Plan out long runs
The cornerstone of any marathon training plan, I always plan these out first. The long run is the anchor of every week, the last workout we can get away with skipping. To start setting up a plan, I took all of the weekends from now until the marathon and mapped out a tentative long run schedule:
Figure out training priorities and strategy
So, we’ve got the big easy stuff out of the way – now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. Before I can start planning out all of my workouts for the next few months, I need to lay down some guidelines about what needs to be prioritized and which ingredients are crucial for each week’s fitness recipe.
Each week, my goal is to work in:
- 1 cross training workout (usually cycling)
- 1 yoga or hot yoga session
- 1 strength training workout and at least 1 mini strength training workout: stairs on my lunch hour, 20 minutes of planks or push ups after an easy run, etc.
- 1 set of form drills
For running, I would like each week to include:
- 1 long run
- 1 hard speed workout (tempo run, intervals, or hill sprints)
- 2-3 easy runs
I’m thinking of doing 4 days of running and 1 day of cross/strength each week. I could do 5 days of running and 1 cross, but I have always been fiercely resistant to the idea of working out 6 days a week. Physically I’d be fine, but the time commitment is already too much now and I only work out 5 days. I don’t just run, I read, I write, I work, I eat, I sleep, I explore. I need space. Plus, it’s summer, so there is more going on.
Maybe doing more of my workouts in the morning will help. I don’t know. I’ll just have to see how it goes.
Honestly, I am a little torn about all of this. I have spent weeks debating and changing my mind about how I should train for this marathon and what I really want from it. On the one hand, increasing my running volume and running more miles, while cumbersome, has led to a big improvement in my times, paces, and endurance. You get good at what you practice, and the best way to improve your performance in endurance races is to run more – there’s really no way around that.
BUT, on the other hand, my life and my body are crying out for balance. I feel like that’s seriously lacking in my life and if I don’t shake things up and improve my overall fitness I will eventually plateau. Plus, I can see the writing in the wall. I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t been injured yet and I appear to be a pretty resilient athlete, but if I keep pushing and piling on the miles without anything to balance it out, it’s only a matter of time.
Now, with all that said, here is my homework for the next few weeks before I officially start training:
Once I start learning more about strength and cross training workouts I want to do, I will dig in to the creation of an actual training plan – start scheduling workouts for each week and setting weekly mileage goals.
Anyone have any recommendations for strength training routines, cycling or swim workouts, or form drills? Links are very helpful, FYI 🙂
Are you a planner, or does sticking to schedules and plans stress you out?
Do you follow training plans or develop your own?