This time, things are going to be a lot different. First, I will have the support of the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Second, I am not going to run 5 days a week ("HERESY!" you say, but I'll address you later on this one). Third, I will actually be running the marathon this year.*
I have felt a bit behind when it comes to selecting a training plan. As I came back from the incident-that-will-not-be-named, I read Run Less, Run Faster and decided that this somehwat unorthodox training plan was my best bet for making it through marathon training without getting injured. Many of you are probably already familiar with this training plan's postulation that in order to successfully train for a long-distance race, you do not need to run 5 days a week, or even 4 days a week. Instead, you run three quality runs a week - dedicated speedwork, a mid-distance tempo run, and one long run - accompanied by high-level cardio crosstraining such as biking or swimming. Basically, those 3 mile, twice a week "easy runs" that are a staple in every marathon training plan are considered junk miles that you don't need. Instead, do a cardio cross training activity that works different muscles and gives your musculo-skeletal system a break. (Very important to me with my apparently-fragile bones.)
When I was recovering and getting back to my normal running routine over the winter, I was kind of already following some form of the Run Less, Run Faster method. Per the advice (... demand ...) of BFF Steve, I was running only every other day and incorporating swimming (albeit less and less...) and the stationary bike into my non-running days. With this training schedule, I ended up setting big PRs at every race that I ran this spring. In short, my success turned me into a believer in the Run Less, Run Faster method.
BUT it wasn't going to be as simple as following the RLFS plan because my long run distances are set by the Sports Backers MTT. Not to mention MTT training is 24 weeks long and RLRF's program is 16 weeks.
So what I had to do was come up with some way to mesh the Sports Backers 5-run-a-week, 24-week-long training plan with the RLRF 3-run-a-week, 16-week-long training plan.
Still with me? Yeah. It's confusing.
On Monday evening I sat down with my MTT training book and the RLRF plan and created a giant spreadsheet that compares the two side by side. Once I had that finished, I went week by week and crafted a hybrid version of the two that goes something like this:
- Long run will always be MTT mileage. For the most part, the MTT group long runs are not wildly different from the mileage recommended by RLRF.
- For the first 8 weeks, run 3 days a week following MTT mileage and applying RLRF principals of short-distance speed week run, mid-length tempo run, marathon pace+30 long run. Add two days of appropriate cross training (three if feeling good) and at least one complete rest day.
- Starting in week 9, following RLRF mileage and direction for speed work and mid-length tempo runs, accompanied by MTT long run mileage and two days of appropriate cross training, etc.
- If progressing with no problems, also attend five MTT-sanctioned and led hill work starting in week 10. During those weeks that I participate, this will mean 4 runs a week (slightly deviating from the RLRF method). If it seems to be too much or I'm feeling anything weird, I'll ditch that 4th run and put hills into my mid-week tempo run instead. I just feel like not doing any hill work at all would be fool-hardy, especially consider that Richmond is not exactly a flat course.
With this plan, I will log about 25% fewer miles than my MTT counterparts (590 vs 819, respectively). My highest mileage week will be 35 miles (Week 21) versus three-50 mile weeks that MTT calls for. I will average 24.6 miles per week; they will average 34.1.
Spelled out like that, it seems a pretty stark and scary looking difference. But I'm going to my faith into the RLRF plan. Running all those extra miles in a traditional plan could just give me the same result as last year... benched with a broken bone. I'm banking that this will be the right plan to get me to the finish on November 16... and that it will get me there in 4 hours or less (yep, I just stated that crazy goal out loud).
So... here goes nothing... again.
*As long as bones cooperate.