or, Marathon Training for the Completely Average Runner
I fully realise what day it is. Pretty far from June 25, is what. Sorry about that…
I’ve been, in the past, resistant to either a structured training plan or to working with a coach beyond a running-group situation. What, little old me? I’m not remotely fast enough to deserve personal coaching. There’s so much low-hanging fruit – if I ran more, slept more, or ate better, I’d be faster.
Truth is, as a working parent, I need a PLAN to run more, or to really capture any of that low-hanging fruit at all. I don’t want to have to think about how far or how fast I have to run on any given day. I want to look at the plan and just go. I have enough to think about already: from weekend social plans and longer-term work travel and vacation planning, to whether daycare needs an extra shirt or sun hat, to meals and grocery shopping for the week, to the status of client projects at any given time. (Who says parents make bad employees? We’re masters of logistics and problem-solving. And we get sh*t done.) I don’t want to be out there second-guessing myself or thinking ‘Maybe I don’t have time for 7 miles today, how about 5?’ and then short-changing myself and stressing out about making it up on the weekend.
So, I’m outsourcing my marathon thinking to one of my running-group coaches; she’s given me a fairly detailed and sensible-looking plan, with instructions to switch things around as needed (but not run hard two days in a row, duh), and some apparently very ambitious paces. (Yes, I already told her I have no marathon time goals!) What’s the worst that could come of it? If I manage to stick to the plan and go into the race feeling more prepared, so much the better.
Anyway, June 12 to 18 was a down week before marathon training really kicked in.
Monday June 12 – Track. 2 mi warmup, 3 (800, 1200) at 8:10ish pace. Total 6 miles.
Tuesday – off
Wednesday – 8 mi easy
Thursday – warmup, cooldown, 3 miles at 8:40-9:00 pace. Total 5 miles.
Friday to Sunday – not a single step. We went to my 10-year college reunion, where there was lots of catching up with old friends and making new ones, food, sunshine, kid-chasing, other-people’s-dog-patting, beer, and ice cream.
Total: 19 miles
Week ending June 25 – week 1 of 18 and probably the toughest week of the 18! Motto this week: survival mode.
This was just hard all round. I was solo parenting this week, and had to squeeze in all my workouts (speed, tempo, long run) during daycare hours. Easy runs could be done with or without the stroller, whichever. I had calls for work most mornings so running right after daycare drop-off was out of the question; I wound up doing a few mid-afternoon runs and a few hiding in the gym on the treadmill, which is a last resort for me but at least it’s convenient and efficient.
Monday – warmup, cooldown, 8×800 at 7:55-8:20/mi pace. Coach didn’t specify a rest or recovery interval, so I improvised: 2 minutes of walking in between reps. (She later suggested equal rest or recovery. I do not plan that well – see above – and therefore never have time for that.) Done at 2pm on treadmill. Total 6 miles.
Tuesday – easy 5 miles
Wednesday – warmup, cooldown, 3 tempo miles at 8:30-8:50 (ran by effort – it was hot). Total 4 miles.
Thursday – rest!!!!
Friday – Long run. Had to split this: 4 AM, 6 PM. Again, hot (30C/ 86F) and humid – I went by pure effort. By Thursday morning I’d run 15 miles and slept roughly the same number of hours, so on Friday morning I woke up almost too exhausted to move. I did a quick stock-take: Tired? Yes. Injured or about to be? No. After daycare drop-off I hauled myself out for 4 miles and actually felt much better by the end. The afternoon 6 miles that had to be accomplished before daycare pickup and a playdate, though…that run left me questioning my life decisions.
Saturday – strength workout and impromptu easy 4.5 miles to and from the splash pad in the afternoon.
Sunday – easy 4, in small pieces, with friends. My Strava is veritably littered with weird short runs on easy days and weekends. 1.5 miles to the subway station. 2.5 miles back and forth on a bike trail with a friend, and then afterwards our kids played together…and then I still had to get back home from the subway station after that playdate. And so on, and so forth. Legs: toast.
Total: 33.5 miles