Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Spring Marathon Training Plan

Today was my first morning with my new half-marathon training group.  There still might be some changes in the next couple weeks if people move groups, but so far, so good.  But since I'm only doing a half-marathon program, I realized I need to supplement my training in a big way so I'll be ready for a full.

Since I'm doing all this training (except when it rains I think) while carrying 35 pounds, it will be at a slow pace and I'm not going to follow a traditional plan to get ready for a marathon.

Usually for a marathon, I'd want about 4-6 runs at 18 miles or longer.  And I'd want about 7-10 (or more) weeks where my mileage is at 40 miles or higher. 

For this race, I'm planning to go up to 18 miles on one occasion.  Most weeks will be 30ish miles.  And I'm planning to go to 27 miles on 2-3 occasions.  Haha.  Sounds crazy, no?

My bestie here suggested that if I really think this race is going to take me about 8-9 hours to finish (that would put me in the middle of the pack basically), I need to practice being on my feet for 8-9 hours several times.

So my plan is to pick three Saturdays and spend all day each one of them walking around our local lake.  I'm starting next weekend (1-21), and then I'll do another walk 3 weeks later, and a final one 3 weeks after that.

I won't be able to wear my weighted vest for the marathon (instead you have to carry a rucksack or backpack with the 35 pounds), so I'm going to use the walks to practice carrying my race day pack (which I have yet to purchase). 

Each loop of our lake is 9 miles, so I figure if I walk 3 loops, that will be good practice for all that time on my feet.

On the first Saturday (next weekend), I may start with just 2 loops so that I don't overdo it. 

Besides my 3 long walks, I'll also do the half-marathon training runs (2 weekdays and long on the weekend), and I think I'm going to do a practice half-marathon with running and walking in a couple weeks. 

The final element to my training that I want to add is some practice doing trail walking or hiking.  Ugh.  So many of my friends have gotten really into trail running after meeting their Boston goals, but it just hasn't ever appealed to me that much.

First, I like being able to run from home.  For me, I'd have to drive to get to a trail, and in some ways that defeats the purpose.

Second, I'm not very coordinated, and I think I'm likely to fall on trails.  Pretty much everyone I know (or every whose blog I read!) who runs on trails seems to fall pretty regularly.  And I'm a wimp.  I don't like falling.  I've fallen twice on roads.  Once was when a friend was too close behind me and caught the heel of my shoe.  Once was attempting to stop and not paying enough attention to a pothole.  But keep in mind that is falling twice after thousands of miles (and many years) of road running. 

Third, I'm not a big nature person really.  I like city life.  I like looking at people while I run.  I don't mind looking at nature, but I really don't like bugs or wild animals that are particularly threatening.  I can't imagine encountering something like a coyote on a run here (though I'm sure it could happen), I'm actually much more afraid of things like snakes.  Like many runners, I'm nervous of dogs in the city, and they're usually on leashes or behind fences.  I can't imagine encountering an unleashed dog on a trail.  I'd probably have a heart attack in panic, even if it was a completely friendly animal. 

But multiple reviews of this marathon mention a "sand pit" where you're going for miles in deep sand, and the reviewers have recommended more trail practic, so I need to add it. 

I only have a couple other weekend days that aren't full with my day-long walks, or some other commitment (vacation, seminar, etc.), so I guess I need to fill them up with some trails.  I don't even know where to begin, but I know I have lots of friends I can ask. 

I know I should walk the trails while carrying my 35 pounds, but I have a feeling that is going to make me even more unbalanced and injury-prone.  Ugh...  I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into.  I suppose if I skip trails altogether, it wouldn't be the end of the world, I'd probably survive the race, but it just wouldn't be smart.

So I guess in early Feb and mid-March I have a couple free days where I can drive out to walk some trails.

That leaves one big element of training untouched -- hills.  The marathon climbs over 1000 feet in less than 5 miles.  Unfortunately, living in Dallas, there is just no way to prepare for that.  And no way to prepare while we're out of town either since we're not going anywhere hilly.  I guess I will practice running some hill repeats here, but I'm just going to have to wing that.  Count on my strength training to get me through. 

Sometimes the more I think about this race, the less excited I get.  I think I should go back to reading some more books about the Bataan Death March to get inspired -- to remind myself why I want to do this race.

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