9:34 avg pace
An easy run today. It was hard to hold back since it was nice and warm – upper 40s!
Tomorrow I begin training for marathon #8, the NJ Marathon. This will be a flat course (yeah!) along the shore (no, not that Jersey Shore, but close). Before I talk about the training plan, let’s discuss goals. My current marathon PR is 3:58. I’m shooting for a 3:50 for this marathon. A recent half marathon time is often a good predictor for your goal marathon time. I ran 1:49 in September and this predicts a 3:50 marathon finish. Of course, this is under ideal conditions: good race day weather, training went well, no injuries, etc. Everything has to fall into place. And sometimes, that happens…sometimes, it doesn’t. So my “A” goal is a 3:50 and my “B” goal is anything under a 3:58. Go big or go home, right?
Some of you may wonder why I’m not gunning for my BQ time of 3:45. It’s not realistic for me right now and I don’t want to overtrain and set myself up for failure. I’m happy making small strides towards my BQ time and I would be thrilled with a 3:50. That being said, you never know what can happen on race day and sometimes BQs come out of nowhere 🙂
I’m currently reading 2 books: Brad Hudson’s Run Faster and Bill Pierce, et al’s Run Less Run Faster (FIRST plan). The best way to describe my training plan is a modified version of the 3:50 plan from FIRST with a little Run Faster mixed in. For this cycle, I wanted the flexibility to incorporate 2 days of yoga per week into my plan. The benefits of yoga for runners are tremendous (injury prevention, core and total body strength, and deep stretching). I’ve wanted to incorporate yoga in the past but it always fell by the wayside since I was so focused on getting my miles in.
With each training plan I always aim to turn up the intensity a bit. Right now my endurance is much greater than my speed so I need to focus on speed work, as much as I hate it. There’s a reason why I shy away from 5Ks and 10Ks…I hate running all out! That’s why the marathon is my favorite distance. But this speed work is necessary for me to inch closer to my BQ time.
The FIRST plan focuses on “3plus2” – 3 quality runs per week (speed, tempo, and long) with 2 days of cross-training. The FIRST philosophy is “if you want to run faster, you need to train faster”. These runs are no cakewalk; they are hard! But, with only running 3 days per week, you body can adequately recover from these hard runs.
Hudson’s Run Faster focuses on adaptive running. Basically, look at your training plan as being “penciled in” and adapt accordingly based on how you feel that day. That means that sometimes hard workouts will be replaced with easy ones and vice versa. This philosophy saved my butt when I realized I was overtraining during my last cycle.
Now for my modifications…
1. I can’t imagine only running 3 days per week (even with 2 days of yoga). I just love it too much. Also, the weekly mileage for the FIRST plan is a lot less than I’m used to. So I plan to add 1 easy run per week. This run can be anywhere from 5 to 10 miles, depending on where I want my weekly mileage to be that week. I like easy runs (who doesn’t?) and they are a valuable component to any training plan.
2. Speed work may need to be modified depending on how I feel (remember, adaptive training). For me, tempo and marathon-paced long runs are the bread and butter of training. Speed work, although valuable, is taxing on the body and requires more recovery. I’ll continue to do speed work each week as long as it doesn’t compromise my tempo and long runs. If I begin to feel dead legs, I’ll swap the speed work for an easy run or another type of run.
3. What about hill work? Since the NJ marathon course is flat, I don’t have to worry too much about mimicking the course with each long run (Philly has plenty of flat running). I don’t want to abandon hill work all together so I plan to choose a hilly course for some of my easy runs.
I have my work cut out for me but I’m excited to train again. These last 2 1/2 months of “fun runs” have been great but I love a fresh new training schedule 🙂