my first marathon in 2011. Oh that was a sweet one and I still remember the last minute advice on the bus to the start. Just relax and enjoy. You are guaranteed a PR. Oh to be there again! I equate it to the advice moms so often get. Don't blink, enjoy this moment, your baby will grow up quick.
So here I am, my 3 year old is now 8 and in less than two months, I will be running my 10th marathon. Don't blink world. Things go by way too fast!
As I mentioned previously, over the years I have learned a lot about marathoning. More than I want to put into one post so this is part 1 of a 4-part series on marathon training and will focus on running. Part 2 is cross training. Part 3 is mindset. Part 4 is nutrition.
So let's talk running.
To run a marathon you need to run. Simple, right? Not quite.
Yes, you want time on your feet but you also need to work up that long run....smartly. Do not increase your mileage more than 10% a week unless you are crazy like me. No seriously, don't do it. Since I have been running every day since December 30, 2011, my weekly mileage and daily up's and down's are not textbook anymore but I know what my body can do and have learned to listen to it. Therefore, I may have a very low mileage one week due to odd circumstances (imagine a 15 mile week) and bump right back to a 35-40 mile week the following week. When you look at that plainly, some may see a recipe for disaster but since my base is solid, it works for me.
It is okay for your long run to be slower. You are getting used to time on your feet. However, I have never bought into the logic out there that all longs runs should be slow runs. I have never been able to hit my goals running long slower than I hope to run on race day. I am sorry, my body and mind needs to get used to running at the pace I want to run at. And that brings me to my next tip.
Add in speed work. I know, yuck! Who wants to do that? Okay, some other crazy runners like me who sometimes just like to sweat like crazy and push their limits. I am odd in that regard. I have a love-hate relationship for speed work. The idea makes me cringe. BUT....it is my big motivator. If I am feeling sluggish on a run or bored on that treadmill run, speed work is the thing I turn to. It gets me going. I get focused on those intervals, pushing myself a bit further, and forget all those yucky thoughts that were plaguing my mind. I honestly don't care if you do textbook intervals or fartleks. Just pick up the pace, push yourself, and keep at it. Don't do this every day. Toss in at least one speedy day a week if not two.
On weeks I do one speedy day, I aim for a tempo run day too. A day I push myself a wee bit more BUT not as fast as a pace as speed work and I aim to hold that pace for miles and miles versus short distances and/or time blocks. This will help your body get used to running longer distances at faster paces. It is a good thing. Give it a try!
And one thing I really, really should do more of is hill work. I finally have an adjustable incline treadmill at home so there really isn't an excuse. My goal is always to toss this in once a week too but that doesn't always happen. It is the element of the mix that often gets dropped. Just being honest with you. We all have perfect plans but not perfect execution.
I know I just mentioned a lot of runs and you are thinking go, go, go! But please remember to toss in recovery days. Yes, run slow. I mean slooooowwwww. Ease it up and let your body recover. It is a good thing.
In case you were wondering, I haven't gone into one marathon and run every day as planned in terms of pace, distance, etc. Don't sweat it. You may get off track a wee bit and that is okay. You will be okay. Trust your training but be honest with yourself. If you never hit your long runs or really fall off course, take a good hard look at your goals and race day plan.
And that brings me back to that long run. That is the most critical. There was one race I was nailing my long run distances but flopping on all my other runs. Way too many 1-3 mile runs BUT somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to complete the race. I even had friends comment that they were amazed I pulled it off with so little mid-length runs. All I can say is, I had a solid base beforehand and really worked those long runs. Not the perfect marathon training plan so don't plan on it to bring you to success but it illustrates my point. My training was off. I didn't plan on a PR and I finished happy and able to run the next day.
One more long run note -- my longest runs are typically 20-21 miles for each marathon cycle. I aim to nail 2-3 pre-race day with the last one about 3-4 weeks out. I like a 3-week taper too.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my running legs.
Daily Bible Verse: Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ~ Hebrews 12:1