Abraham Lincoln once famously said “he who represents himself has a fool for a client”. Now I’m no lawyer and I don’t think I would eschew the sage advice of Honest Abe if I were ever in need of legal representation. However, I’m also no running coach but I have nearly convinced myself that I can design a marathon training program that will effectively prepare me for the TCSNYC Marathon in November.
I ran the TCSNYC Marathon last year after using a popular training program and finished in an extremely disappointing 4 hours and 51 minutes. Almost 5 hours! Yecch. The program started me off a few steps back from where I already was in terms of distance and speed and in the end I felt it mostly taught me to run too slow. My average half marathon pace is 8:37 per mile but I never got below 9:00 for the entire marathon and finished around 11:06 per mile. I spent a lot of time concentrating on running slow, and boy did I.
Since then I have done a lot of reading and reviewing marathon training programs and I think they kind of boil down to these elements:
- You need to run a LOT of miles
- You need to incorporate some speed/strength training
- You need to taper effectively
These programs typically help you to determine a goal pace as well, and there are workouts designed to make sure you know how to find and keep that pace while running the race.
Based on that and my experience last year, here’s what I am doing. I have increased my daily runs from 3 or 4 miles to 5 or 7 and I may go up to 7 every day. I’m increasing my weekly long runs from my usual 13 miles up to 20 miles on a graduated basis. However I’m increasing time rather than miles by adding 15 minutes every 2 weeks, ending with 2 3:30 runs before the taper. I am NOT trying to run at a certain pace but to run at the fastest comfortable pace I can, which has been between 8:30 and 9:30 depending on day, distance and heat. I didn’t feel that the fartleks and sprints etc. helped me last time so I don’t want to do them. Instead I am doing hill training once a week where I run up a 0.2 mile Cat 5 hill in my neighborhood 5-6 times, preceded and followed by 1 mile warm up and cool down runs. So I’ll end up running about 50 miles per week for the majority of weeks and Ill taper down to 44, 33, 16 for the last 3 weeks. I will also try to skip the 6 pound weight gain the week before the race this time, not that my training program recommended that last year.
So does that sound like a reasonable approach to training for a marathon? Or am I just fooling myself?