A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed and saw a post from the Wrightsville Beach Marathon - "16 weeks to race day!" and it struck me that if there were only 16 weeks to Wrightsville, there were only 20 to Boston.
And that meant that I needed to get my butt in gear by a) starting to actually run again; and b) getting a training plan put together.
I knew I'd be running again with the Winter Marathon Training Team (WMTT/formerly Spring Marathon Training Team), the same group that I've trained with for the past three winters. So, I pulled up last year's training plan and used it as a reference as I created one of my patented Frankenstein marathon training plans.
I have no delusions of running hard in Boston. I just want to run the whole thing and hopefully finish in under 4 hours. Starting from zero and having just 16 weeks to get myself back to marathon is incredibly daunting... especially when you are still running scared like I am and not 100% pain free.
With this in mind, I've created the most baby steps beginner plan ever. As I have in the past, I am running only three times per week. I will not, however, be using the Run Last Run Faster formula of speed work/tempo/marathon pace long runs. They will all just be steady runs with the only goal being completion. During previous cycles, I've been mindful of not increasing mileage too quickly, but I haven't paid super close attention to the % increase in mileage week to week. This time I was very careful to try to keep it near the prescribed 10%. This was challenging, given that I am starting in such a sorry state in terms of mileage per week.
The team will run three 20-milers; I am doing just one. I'm keeping my Wednesday run to half the distance of the long, and Monday (formerly speed work day) will be a 4-5 miles, for the most part.
On non-running days, I'll be sticking with spin class, cycling outdoors (weather permitting), perhaps swimming, strength training, and at long last, a return to yoga. I'm allowing one day completely off per week - Friday.
Here's what it looks like (click to enlarge):
All in all, I will run just 376 miles during the 15 week training cycle. It seems insane, I know. But the truly crazy thing is, that is all that I ran last spring on my way to the BQ at Wrightsville. That gives me some level of comfort... until I remember that last winter I was at my running peak - completing 20 milers with a 7:50 average and running 6:20 miles during speed work sessions.
Needless to say, I'm a far cry from that now. 376 miles seems woefully inadequate but to be frank, I have messed around with this plan as much as I could and I just can't add anything in without the mileage increase being too much. I just have to have faith that my huge base hasn't completely eroded during my time out and my fitness level will be good enough to get me not only to the start, but the finish of the marathon on less than 400 miles of training.
I spent the month of December trying to build a base so that I would feel comfortable joining the Boston team for my first long run (10 miles) on January 7. The first week I ran 13 miles, then 14, then 15, then 17. My pacing has been for the most part around an 8:05-8:15/mile average. I don't strive for anything in particular, I just do what feels most comfortable and natural.
I miss running fast.
I had decided my test to see if I was ready to join the team would be an 8 miler - this was the distance for the first official Boston team run scheduled for 12/31, which I would miss because of travel.
8 miles sounds like nothing, but I hadn't run that far since the beginning of June. On Friday, December 23, I ran 8 miles at an 8:10 overall pace, giving me the boost of confidence I needed to feel ready to start with the team in January.
There you have it. Onward...