I Must Be Training Right

Supposedly when asked how to become a professional cyclist, Eddy Merckx answered “Ride lots.” I’ve never followed that advice on the bike, and I don’t while running, either. I’m sure if I spent more time on my two hobbies I’d be better at them, but the time I do spend lets me succeed at a level which pleases me and also prevents me from getting bored with either. Instead of miles and miles and miles and miles, I try to vary my time on the road, replacing distance with different intensities.

So for my marathon program – the goal of which is a 3:30 finish – I only run four days a week and have yet to exceed 40 miles in any week. I haven’t surveyed every person training for a 26.2 mile race, but I’d bet most of them are running more miles than I am. I’d also bet, though, that most recreational runners, people like myself, probably run the same way, just in different lengths, for five or six days a week. Instead of high miles at one pace, I have four different runs.

The first, on Tuesdays, is split into three parts. The first is an easy mile warm up. Then I move into the second: Four miles at a pace leaving me breathing hard and unable to speak, just about a maximum effort over the distance. Finally, an easy mile to cool down. I do the second run on Wednesdays, a semi-relaxed medium length run. Normally it’ll be six or seven miles at a conversational pace pushing the kids in the jogging stroller. The big weekday run comes on Thursdays. I’ll maintain a pace just below the one I had for the middle miles on Tuesday – about 20 seconds per mile slower – but do it for seven or eight miles. Finally, I do the long run on Saturday. The length has increased as my training has progressed. The weekly runs have, too, but this is the one that really grows, from six the first week to twenty today and peaking at twenty-two in two weeks.

As for the other days of the week, Monday and Friday are rest days while I try to ride my bike on Sundays. The bike ride can be anything from upwards of fifty with the group, or a solo mountain bike ride, or a tour around town towing the kids in the stroller. Because I want to relax while cross-training, I pick whatever seems like the most fun.

How do I know my plan works? I won’t until the big day. Until then, this article seems to back up my thinking. In addition, on my long Saturday runs, I have managed to keep my goal pace from start to finish. I ran today’s twenty, for example, at an 8:05 pace, for a total time of 2:41:31. Even better than the time, I did it consistently. I mapped out a five mile loop from my house, which I ran four times. Here’s my times for each the four laps, from the first to the last: 41:04/40:18/40:09/40:00. To put the same thing another way, my first three miles were 8:28/8:33/8:08. My last three were 7:55/7:44/7:48. Needless to say, I am thrilled that my final miles were my fastest miles.

Who knows what might happen on race day. But based on the results of my training, I ought to not only finish at my goal, but finish strong.

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3 Comments on “I Must Be Training Right”

  1. mom Says:

    We will be cheering you on from Wapwallopen 🙂

  2. draftsonyou Says:

    i’m only doing 35/wk right now (w/same race date as yours), granted as a beginner w/ about a 10 min pace, but it’s 4 days/ wk and the idea is based on recovery. mentally, i struggle with monotony, so I do a lot of trails. today was 2:40 – all trails (much single track) and I hurt. but i WILL finish. (rode trails with some crusty old marathoners on monday, and they punished me with their fitness) my real goal is to be that fit at 65.

  3. wheeler Says:

    i’d planned to run some trails, but it’s rained so much this fall/winter that they’ve been almost unusable.

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