So let’s talk marathon training! As I was thinking about it, I was putting together a little list in my mind of the races I have run in the past year. I thought I’d include that here as it’s nice to have it all written down:
August 2009: I ran my first ever 5K at the Watermelon Carnival in Mississippi. I ran/walked it in 42:xx. So proud.
October 2009: I ran my next 5K, at the Covered Bridges Festival in Oneonta, AL, and this time without stopping to walk! I finished in 36:20 and was ecstatic with the result.
December 2009: I ran a 12K race on my birthday in Wetumpka, AL. I had wanted to train for a 10K next, but found the 12K on 12/12 to be too irresistible. I finished in 1:19:25.
February 2010: I ran a half-marathon! The Mercedes Half in Birmingham, AL. I finished in 2:29:31, just 29 seconds under my goal, to the cheers of my friends at the finish line. A wonderful day.
April 2010: I started the month in Auburn setting a new PR of 30:40 at the Junior League Art Run, and I went on to beat that time at the end of the month at the Double Decker 5K in Oxford, MS with a time of 28:07. A good month for getting speedy!
June 2010: My First Triathlon in Atlanta. I swam (400 m), biked (20K), and ran (5K) my way to a total time of 1:45:55 and had the time of my life.
August 2010: The one year anniversary of my first ever road race, I set a new PR of 26:38 at the Watermelon Carnival. So hot I almost died but a great race nonetheless.
And now, I have two more big races on my schedule for Fall/Winter 2010: My main goal is to run the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL on 12/11/10, which is the day before my birthday and seems numerically to be an auspicious date. About halfway through the training period, I have a half marathon on the schedule: The Montgomery Half in (duh) Montgomery, AL on 10/02/10.
So how does one do this? How does one go from being a person too overweight & out of shape to run all three miles a year ago, to a person getting ready to run 26.2 in just a few months? Well, I have used online training plans quite faithfully. I built slowly up to running 3 miles with Couch-to-5K, and from there I used training plans found online to build up to 12K, 13.1 miles, and beyond. I am using the popular Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan to get ready for my big (26.2 mile!) race in December. I’m in the middle of week three in this plan as I write this post – only about 15 more weeks to go.
The plan is made up of four runs a week plus a day of cross-training (where I might do yoga, weights, bike or swim). Mondays I run a mid-distance run: these start at 3 miles and eventually will be as long as 10 miles. Wednesdays and Sundays I’ll run shorter distances of 3-5 miles. The big day is Friday. Every Friday I’ll have a long run, which will get longer and longer throughout the training period, starting at 5 miles and eventually getting up to 20 miles. There are a few “step-back” weeks where I’ll back off and run fewer miles to help my body gradually adjust, but the general gist is that the runs just get longer and longer and longer until I either die or run a marathon. Hopefully the latter.
This is why people tell you that the race you are training for is just a “victory lap.” The hardest part of running a marathon, they say, isn’t running the 26.2 miles on race day. It’s running the 435 miles you run in training before race day ever rolls around.
Oh, hang on. Four hundred thirty five miles? Or, to put that in numbers again, 435 miles?! Holy crap, y’all. I just added up all the miles in the training plan and that is the number I got. Holy motherfucking CRAP.
So yeah. That 26.2 will most definitely be my victory lap. A victory over the steaming hot and humid hundred-degree Alabama August temperatures in which I have started my training. A victory over the 110 pounds of body fat I have lost since I started Couch-to-5K (and calorie counting) in June 2009. A victory over everyone, including myself, who ever said I wasn’t athletic.
And if you’d like to read more about fitting in strength training and cross training while training for a marathon, please to go check out my new post at Sports & Wine and leave a comment if you have any ideas!