Sunday, January 5, 2014

Crossroads of Northwest Indiana Marathon Training Plan

It's official - my next marathon is registered for, the hotel is booked, it's time to start training! Full disclosure, I've taken the last few weeks off from working out. I did some yoga and discovered the magic of foam rolling, but otherwise I've sat on my butt. It's always hard for me to run without a goal because I'm too Type A for my own good, but the break has been more than welcome.

After the MDI Marathon, I took a little time off before starting to train for a 5K at the end of December, which I actually didn't run because it was on moving day. I used Runner's World Smart Coach program, based on my 10K PR, and I think the plan was a little too aggressive. While nothing was that fast by absolute standards, there was never any break. My legs constantly ached, and, more importantly, I started to dread my runs rather than look forward to them. I also had very little structure with a light class and work schedule, and I love routine to a fault.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I have been extremely busy during the break. Between the holidays and getting ready to move away from home completely and football bowl season, I've had less than a day over the last three weeks to just sit and relax. I could've forced the time to run, but it would've made me more stressed, which for me defeats a lot of the purpose. The next two weeks will be spent settling into my new home, as well as punching my ticket for the fitness train again.
This go-round I actually spent some time studying how Smart Coach works and experimenting with its results. Clearly, I am some sort of genius. I realized the main issue is Smart Coach seems to extrapolate my race results to be something I'm capable of producing on the regs. I tend to race better than I train at shorter distances, and my short-distance speed doesn't have the corresponding stamina (yet), so even the "moderate" plan was more than I thought I could handle at the marathon distance. I didn't want to burn out like I did with the last one.

With this in mind, I tried setting Smart Coach to "maintenance" mode, which, cross your fingers, should work really well for me. The long run and speed workout paces seem a bit of stretch to me, but the plan never makes them any faster. As the name implies, I just cycle through the same set of workouts, only upping the long run distance. I'm hoping by this will allow me to build my stamina by decreasing the emphasis on speed.

The mileage is also going to be higher than what I've done before. Knock on wood, I've been very healthy since I've started consistently lifting, and I'm hoping that in combination with eating clean, yoga, and foam rolling, will allow me to do this without injury. When I trained for Sleeping Bear, I only peaked around 40 miles, so I think putting more miles on my legs will help, or at least give me a better base to work from in the future.

The plan also only calls for four days of running per week, whereas I've almost always done five. This should be a welcome change, especially with the higher mileage. As I'll also be transitioning to working full-time, I hope having one less outdoor workout will take some pressure off.

First four weeks.
I will also be swimming twice a week, lifting three times a week, and - as a part of my New Year's resolutions - doing an hour of yoga a week.

I'm excited to have my vim and vigor back to train. If all goes well, I should be in shape to run a 4:21:25 come April 27th. This would be about a 35 minute PR for me, and the Crossroads' course seems pretty reasonable. I can't wait to tackle this new big goal tomorrow. I just need to remember how to tie my running shoes first.
Rebecca: The Autobiography

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