December 01, 2011

Training for the program

I am a month away from starting specific training for my next marathon, Vancouver on the first Sunday in May. That means I am now training to be able to begin my training.

As I very much enjoyed my preparations for the Bellingham Bay Marathon (and the Victoria Marathon), I will use a schedule from the same book, Advanced Marathoning. As mentioned before on this site, I did not choose this schedule lightly. I followed personal guidance from two expert coaches for a decade, before finetuning what suits me as an athlete, and the type of training that I believe will help me reach the goals I want to achieve.

A 3:02 marathoner friend suggested I check out this book; the ideas and schedules were a perfect fit, as I ramped up my training to a record volume. For three months this summer, I followed a program that had me running an average of just over 100km a week. That was a lot of running, and I loved it, even as - and because - it was challenging. I hope to do more in the next four months.

The 18-week program I will follow from January 1 begins with a week of 104km, including a long run of 27km and a midweek medium long run of 19km. You can't just jump into that one, you need to train to begin the schedule.

"For example, if you've been running 40 miles (64km) per week and your longest run in the last several weeks is 12 miles (19km), now isn't the time to suddenly jump to a 65-mile (105km) week containing a 17-mile (27km), as the first week of the 18-week schedule calls for," according to the Advanced Marathoning authors.

"As a rule, you should be running at least 55 miles (88km) a week before starting these schedules, and in the last month, you should have comfortably completed a run close in length to the long run called for in the first week of the schedule."

That's what I am working towards now; as I have taken my usual post-A-race break, even as this one was unusual, what with a 3:09 marathon on September 25, followed by a 3:06 marathon on October 9, and a not-so-swift 7:57 50-miler on November 5.

I've been back running, easy short sessions, for the past two weeks. Last week was my biggest. I didn't bring the Garmin to the Netherlands, so I am running for time, guesstimating pace / distance.

Last week, I ran an hour on Monday, about 12km, followed by 31 mins on Wednesday, about 6km, 20 mins on Thursday, or 4km, and 90mins, 18km on Saturday. That's a total of 40km. This week, I am aiming for 50km. Then I'll have three weeks left to boost my training to the volume needed to begin the program.

(Keep in mind that I was running 100km-plus weeks in the three months before taking this break, so don't do the same without building a solid base first.) The summer schedule called for six days of running a week, something I had not done before.

A key indicator for success was my body's response; with minimal massage, or other treatments, I remained injury free. That's crucial. There's no point trying to do more training if your body breaks down, forcing you to stop training, as a result.

This schedule will have me running daily, another first. The biggest week is 140km. There are also weeks of 126km, 128km, 130km (3x) 135km, 135km, 137km (2x). At the moment I cannot quite imagine running that volume but that's not unusual; it's often intimidating to begin a task not attempted before.

Once you've made a start, you often find it's not as difficult as you expected. And even if it is tough, you'll usually find it is still doable. I am excited about accepting this new challenge and seeing what it brings.

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