At first I thought this phenomenom was a symptom of my own neurosis, but no matter who my running buddy is, no matter how green their shoes are or how much they hurt afterwards, within a few hours they’re asking me, “When’s the next race?”
Even my football playin’ brother has already signed up for the 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. One sibling down, two more to go.
But now that I’ve spent some time resting and relaxing, my running shoes are starting to go stir crazy.
The big challenge this time around will be how to set up a training plan that will allow me to increase speed and stay injury free. I’ll also be working on increasing my cheeseburger consumption.
From my past experience, I know that traditional training plans aren’t going to work for me. The standard marathon training plan recommends that training maxes out at a 20 mile long run and that long runs are done at a pace of 60-90 seconds below goal race time. Adrenaline on race day is supposed to carry you though the last 6.2 miles and that speed demon pace.
Call me crazy, but how am I supposed to pull 6.2 miles and 26 minutes out of thin air? The answer for me, is that I can’t. It’s certainly enough for me to finish a marathon. And I am pretty sure that I would not have finished my first marathon in over six hours if it didn’t feature an out-and-back for the last 13 miles, but I’m 100% sure that I wouldn’t have been able to hit my goal time of 4:50 (based upon my half marathon best and Running World’s calculator).
My goal for the New York Marathon next year is to race it. I want to take everything that my body’s got and give it to the marathon. I want to hurt so good that I can’t walk the six flights up to my apartment. (Boyfriend, you better keep on working out at the gym so you can carry me.)
So, now the big question is, how will I train? The way I see it, I have two options: focus on speed or distance. I can either do my long runs at the distance mandated by traditional plans at something close to race pace or I can log more slower miles than I planning on running on November 4, 2012.
So far, I’m leaning towards the miles. I like this because I ran my personal half marathon best mid marathon training. I also like this because if I have a bad race day or bad race conditions, the knowledge that I can do 26.2 might galvanize me more than any super charged pace can.
But perhaps, I’m leaning towards the miles, because it means that I can slog them out at a relaxed pace. Is it a cop out if I don’t have to push the pace? Right now, in my current condition I could log 13 miles without batting an eyelash. But if I wanted to log those 13 miles at 11 minute pace, it would drain me. So much so that, I would have to take about two days off to recover.
I have a few months to build myself up to my marathon training plan, but no matter what, hitting the marathon pace, week over week, will be hard on my body, and let’s be honest, hard on my life. Have you ever had a hangover after drinking two glasses of wine? No? Well, then try drinking two glasses of wine after running 14 miles in 90 degree temps. No amount of Gatorade can save you. Not to mention high heel wearing, staying up past nine p.m. or a casual day of shopping in Soho. Then again, I’m not sure that running way past the twenty mile mark wouldn’t also have the same effect.
Training for a marathon is a huge commitment, but it’s not the only one I have. And I’m not sure that it’s okay to email my friends and say, “Can you please reschedule your wedding because I have to run twenty miles that day?”
As much as I loved training for my marathon – it was arguably the highlight of the Philly Marathon last year – I have to find a plan that will not leave me limping, possibly turn me into Kara Groucher, and let me still enjoy my high heels and a glass of wine. Is that really too much to ask for?
However, I have worked out a few things that will be part of my marathon training plan:
Spinning. For the Detroit Half, I ran three times a week and did spinning three times a week, and this worked out really well. Much better than I expected, actually. It helps if your spinning teachers are crazy and make you sing, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.”
Massages and foam rolling. For my first marathon, I had a massage the week before and two days afterwards, and I really attributed this to my fast recovery. After my marathon, it was painful to even sleep or sit, but after my massage, I felt like a brand new human being. There are many running coaches who consider weekly massages as crucial as any training run, but since I’m not a millionaire, I will settle for foam rolling and splurge on a few well planned massages.
Animal cruelty free foods. I am not a vegan, and I don’t plan on converting, but I rarely eat meat and dairy in my daily life and I’ve found that vegan food is the best running fuel out there. I will continue to stick with eating vegan meals before long runs and races. I will also continue to eat pizza and cheeseburgers after the races too.
Yoga. I am new to the yoga train. I only started downward-dogging this year, but it really helped my runner muscles – both in strength and flexibility. It’s especially helpful because I frequently break running rule #1: stretch after running. I squeeze in stretches during the lights as I run from Central Park to my place, but it’s not nearly enough. But yoga – it lets me stretch – and stretch deep. Plus some of those poses are ridiculously hard.
Group runs. Actually, I lied. I have never had a consistent running buddy for a race. But I think it’s high time I got on the train and started running with other people. This is a non-negotiable for me this year. So I’m putting this in as a goal. It’s going to work, ’cause it will.
So what works for you in marathon training? Do you run fast in your long runs? Or do you go for the miles? How much of a difference is there between how you train and the “adrenaline rush”?