Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Plan...Mission to a Marathon

My husband, the training-plan-maker-extraordinaire has spent countless hours customizing a training plan for my marathon. I had originally planned to follow a program designed by Hal Higdon, so we (and by "we" I mean "he") used it as a base in conjunction with McMillan to incorporate pace work.

First, we should address goals. When I decided to run a marathon, I convinced myself that I would run 'to complete' - in other words, no finishing time goal. Hah. Have you met me? I'm competitive. I thrive on very specific goals. And apparently I like to run fast, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that time is not important. So I decided I would aim to run a sub-4:00:00 marathon, which is a pretty aggressive goal in itself for a first-timer. So hubby went to work on the program, I looked it over and thought it looked to easy. Let me clarify: the distances and weekly mileage made my eyes bulge, but the paces were significantly slower than I'm accustomed to running. So why not take it up a notch? If I discover that the goal is too aggressive and I can't keep up with the training, I'll take a step back. But hopefully that won't be necessary.

After some soul searching and number crunching, I came to the conclusion that I will try to run (no wait, I will run) a 3:50:00 marathon. Why? Because I want to. And I think I can! Hubby has re-designed the program to accommodate my new goal (and even better, he's given me training paces for both a 3:50 and 4:00 finish, so in the event that I am not keeping up with the 3:50 plan, I'll be able to work from the 4:00 plan). But you know what? It doesn't look THAT difficult. Maybe I'm just dreaming but maybe, JUST MAYBE, I'll be able to do it. Why not aim big?

So here's how it's gonna work.

The program is 19 weeks starting with this week. I'll be running 5 days per week with the occasional 4-day recovery week. My runs will be broken down as follows:

Regular pace runs: Pace 5:47 to 6:06

Long runs (Sundays): Pace 5:47 to 6:24 ... always followed by Monday rests

Steady State runs (faster than goal race pace, but not quite speed work pace): Pace 5:11 to 5:20 (always accompanied by warm-up and cool-down at Recovery pace)

Interval runs (speed work): Pace 4:43 to 5:19 (slower pace for shorter workouts, faster pace for longer workouts)
i.e. 4 x 400 m at 4:43-4:55 with 200 m rests at recovery pace in between or 4 x 1600 m at 4:54-5:19 with 800 m rests

Recovery runs: Pace 6:24 to 6:43 (typically the day after interval work and the day before long runs)

Let's talk about mileage. The long run starts at 12K this weekend, gradually working up to 32K. I run 30K week 14 and 32K weeks 16 and 18. Everything I have ever heard or read emphasizes the importance of capping marathon training at 32K to prevent injury, muscle deterioration and plain old burn-out. Supposedly, the last 10K is all mental. I'm skeptical, but trusting the experts on that one.

So The Plan is pretty complex and detailed, but I work well with structure. The challenging thing will be planning my days and weeks around my runs all summer, but this is a commitment I have decided to make and I know all of my friends and family will support me right to the finish.

Let's do this, shall we?! My Mission to a Marathon officially begins NOW.


Sarah said...

Good luck! You can do it!

anners said...

Some people are ambitious, some people are cautious. McMillan calculated a 4:15 marathon for me...I trained for a 4:30 and got a 4:49. But you read about how the wheels came off :P

I am trying to say that I admire you for being ambitious, but be a little cautious, too. Listen to your body. If you can handle the training, great! Good luck! I will be following your journey :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your training. I kinda of agree with Anners, the McMillan pace calculaters are just gauges and the marathon is a whole other beast. I know several runners who run a 1/2 marathon well under two hours (read 1:50) that are still trying to break 4 hours - perhaps this information will fuel your fire - but be careful - you don't want another injury.
Most important, regardless of how competitive you are make sure you enjoy your first marathon and the training. Focusing too much on pace and speed can really ruin the experience. Remind yourself daily that you are doing an amazing thing - training for a full marathon, something less than 1% of the population completes.
Best of luck Marlene, I enjoy reading your blog and I am looking forward to reading about your training. The Scotiabank is a great course - the flatest and fastest for sure!

Marlene said...

Thank you ladies for the feedback. I really appreciate it and know what you're saying.

I DO want to enjoy the training and my first marathon, and I DON'T want to end up injured, so I will be careful. I will listen to my body (and heart) and play it by ear.

I won't be heartbroken if I can't break 4 hrs, but I will be heartbroken if I can't run this thing at all.

I'll see how it goes...

Thanks again for reading and for your comments.

AddictedToEndorphins said...

So, to answer the question on your blog, I am most definately going to be at Scotia! It'll be cool to meet some bloggers in person!

I love how aggressive your goal is. You'll hear about my goals soon, but I totally understand the competitive spirit! Just be careful, don't hurt yourself and don't forget why you love running:)

Can't wait to follow your journey to success!

AddictedToEndorphins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lily on the Road said...

Good to have a plan, you could also check out the Running Room. They have a great support system.

I know the Newmarket hills very well having lived there a long time ago...good luck with your training!