Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Running A Year Ahead

So I have this horrible habit of planning too far ahead.  I know, sounds great, right?  Well, I’ve already got my half training plan semi-set for the half on Valentines day, I’m just letting the changes I made roll around in my brain to see if they make sense.  Now, I’m starting to work on a full marathon training program targeting a marathon in October 2010.  Oddly enough, I was not excited for either really until I started looking up training programs and putting schedules into excel.  Now, I just want it to be TRAINING TIME!!!  I would like to pose some quandries out there to people who are either in training or who have done the whole 9 yards (or even half of it…).

Half marathon:

  • I’m considering a longer taper. Last time, I ran hard up until 6 days before the race (did my 12 mile Sunday).  Then I did easy runs Mon/Thurs, a pretty hard tempo Tues, and raced Saturday.  A two week taper scares the crap out of me (last long run 2 weeks before the race), but I think one of my failings last time is I didn’t feel that well rested and this might help.
  • I am going to cut the time on my cross training. I did it because it was in my plan, but I see NO need to do 60 mins of cross training late in the game when I’m already running 25 miles and trying to cram in weights and yoga.  Instead of ascending with the run times, it’s going to be 30 mins per week.  Period.
  • Long runs on random days. Due to scheduling conflicts, the first 1/3 of my long runs will be Fridays, the second 1/3 will be Saturdays, and the last 1/3 will be Sundays so I get used to running Sunday.  Will that totally throw me off?
  • Anyone have awesome speedwork suggestions? I’m not trying to qualify for the olympics or anything, but I’d like to beat my 2:16.  Currently the plan is alternating 400 repeats w/400 jog (6 working up to 10 @ 8 min mile pace) and tempo runs (from 25-40 mins @ 8-9 minute mile pace).
  • Do I *really* need to run hills? I know the answer to that but… hate, hate, hate.  How would I work them into a training program?  Replace a speed workout every few weeks or replace an easy run every few weeks or…
  • I’ll be training through the winter and will attempt to not be a wuss and run outside every day. However, I’ll venture due to inclement weather I’ll need to hit the ‘mill occasionally.  I’m making the rule that at least 2 out of the 4 runs per week need to be outside.  Thoughts?  Since my feet are pretty road hardy already does it matter, or should I attempt to make every run outside unless its stupid stupid cold and raining/snowing?

Marathon Training.  Hooboy, lots of unknowns here.

  • Do you really, really have to drink aide in training during long runs? I prefer water and fueling with sport beans every 45-60 mins or so.  I like to train with water and then save aide for the race if I need extra oomph (I took aide at the last station during my half and it perked me up).  However, a lot of places out there swear you can’t get through the long 15+ mile runs without it.
  • I’m considering the less-is-more 3 days per week training program. Anyone ever tried it?  Basically, you skip all the pure mileage runs and run a tempo, a speedwork, and a long run per week.  Then, you cross train the other 2 days per week for 40-45 mins.  It makes sense to me.  You run good quality and focused runs (and faster than easy pace) but less often.  Am I committing long distance running suicide trying to do this for my first race and should stick with a more traditional plan?
  • Training time. There are some 3 month plans, some 4 month plans, and some even go to 6 months.  The current plan I think is coming off the half marathon, rest a month, for the next 3 months make sure I do one long run (10 miles or more) at least every other week.  Then, in mid-June (4 months out), I start formal training.  Woohoo.  Heat training all summer.  Oh boy.  I will be FLYING at that race when it’s a nice cool 60-70 degrees with an ocean breeze.  Or – should I start sooner since it’s my first?
  • Max miles on long runs? Some programs have you only going up to 20 (which seems ridiculous to me), some have you going to 22-24 (which seems more reasonable), and some have you running 30 a few weeks before.  It seemed good to train up and peak your miles on race day, but I’m not sure I want to add SIX miles on.  Two, sure.  It makes more sense to my logic circuits to run the whole distance or even a little further in preparation, but since I am NOT a robot, I don’t want to push myself too hard.
  • How hard is it? I mean, really.  Talk me out of this nonsense.  Training up from 6 miles to 13.1 was hard – but doable.  Most of the long runs were enjoyable.  That was 2 hours.  How different does it feel running for 4 hours?  13.1 miles was really not all that much harder than shorter distances as long as I made sure I kept my pace in check (with proper training).  Is there some magic that happens between 13.1 and 26.2 that makes it a whole different world?
  • Speed workouts? Some sites suggest them, some sites say don’t bother.  Some interesting workouts I saw: progression runs (most of the long runs easy – then the last 40 mins pick up the pace to finish at race pace), 10×100 pickups after a run (just to not forget how to go fast), 2×6 mile tempos 5 seconds faster than race pace with 10 min recovery jog between, 10 x 800 meters in the same minutes and seconds you want to finish your marathon in hours and minutes (if you want to finish in 4 hours you should run them in 4 minutes),  and 6 x 1 mile at 10k race pace.  It seems like most of the sites that suggest speed works say to mix them up.
  • I’m targeting Long Beach for a marathon because it’s pretty and temperate there is a 7 mile stretch along the beach and it makes for the start of a nice vacation.  However, there is a much closer one I can get to that would be a short drive, not a flight.  Who wants to talk me out of doing my first marathon 2000 miles away from home?

Anyone out there have other suggestions for me now that I’m starting to put together THE PLAN?  What helped you in your training?  What’s your best race story?  What’s your favorite race distance?  Should I just sit on the couch and eat popcorn instead?

Now, to run headlong into my weekend.  See ya next week, and I’ll let you know how Miss Jillian and her shredding are working out for me…




Where Everything Falls Apart


  1. Very interesting questions! For me, my fave race distances are the 10K, the 10 mile and the half. 5Ks feel too short for me to work out my adrenaline and settle in to a good pace but 10ks-halfs are nice because you don’t need a lot of recovery time after them. My experience with the marathon is that both the training and the race itself took a LOT out of me and required a significant investment of time and energy – not just for the actual work but also for the recovery. With young kids I can’t afford to be that exhausted, sore and injured very often (although I daresay there are plenty of marathon moms out there to disagree with me).

    That said, there is a lot of pride to be had in finishing a marathon distance and being able to say you did it! Once was enough to satisfy that for me but others get bitten by the bug and want to do them forever. I don’t think you can say which it will be for you until you try it! Enjoy!!

  2. syl

    I have no advice for your 1/2 or full marathon. the longest I have done is a 10k. I am training for a 1/2 in May of next year but I just do what I have been continuing to do. I guess my advice to you would be to do what works best for you and not to over think it to much because that is when we get into trouble, and start doubting ourselves. You can do this and I know you know you can!

  3. I don’t have much experience because I’ve only run one marathon. But, from what I know of running and from my marathon experience, I’d say run your marathon near home. I was SO nervous before the race and can’t imagine having taken a flight. I’d recommend doing that for marathon 2!

    My longest run was 20 miles during my training. I trained SOLO and loved it. The long runs, honestly, weren’t all that bad. I enjoyed the accomplishment.


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