The final piece to coming back post-baby is really the culmination of the other two aspects of the plan: a 3:30 spring marathon. Diet and strength will be the foundation of my marathon training; as I build my miles it will be evident whether or not I have done a good job with the first two. A good diet and strength will be key in staving off fatigue and avoiding injury. But I won’t get to a 3:30 marathon just on those things alone, I need a training plan.
I’ve spent the past few days going over the McMillan pace calculator and reminding myself of the advice of some of the running books I’ve read recently. I’ve come up with the framework of my training which first maps out how I’ll be periodizing my training; the second part is the marathon training plan itself.
Marathon Training Plan:
There are two major components to my training plan: the long run and hard effort runs (track and tempo).
The Long Run: The long run is key in building the aerobic base and teaching my body to be more efficient at burning fat (and preserving glycogen stores). On the advice of the running coach who runs the track sessions for my running club, I’ve decided to run four 16 mile runs, four 18 mile runs and four 20 mile runs. I don’t feel like I’ll gain much of an advantage running longer than 20 miles (maybe I’ll throw in a 22 miler), but I do believe that I’ll gain a huge advantage (and a lot of confidence) doing multiple 20 milers.
Hard Effort Runs: The track workouts and the tempo runs are both hard efforts run below race pace. The purpose of the track workouts is to improve Max VO2, or your body’s ability to transport oxygen to your muscles. The better able you are at getting oxygen to your muscles, the longer/farther you are able to run at hard effort. You can have your VO2 Max tested at some gyms and universities (its a really interesting experience, I had the chance to do it back in 2007) or you can calculate it on your own using a calculator like THIS one.
Tempo runs and Marathon Pace runs are not quite as hard as speed workouts, but still serve an important purpose, increasing lactate threshold, or your body’s ability to clear lactate from the blood. A build up of lactate causes fatigue in the muscles. So by performing lactate threshold runs you are working to increase the amount of time you can exercise at a high intensity before fatigue sets in.
Beyond these major components the rest of my workouts will be comprised of easy or recovery runs and REST. One thing I will need to be more vigilant about this time around is stretching and foam rolling after each workout. I have a tendency to leave this out of my plan because I run then rush off to the next thing. But I like how Jessica, from Pace of Me sets aside time at night to foam roll and stretch. Last year my hip flexors and plantar fascia proved to be problematic, causing low-back pain eventually plantar fasciitis. I also am going to invest in bi-monthly, thirty minute massages (as our budget will allow). I saw my massage therapist a few times last year during my marathon training and really believe that seeing her several times in the last month before the marathon was what enabled me to run a 3:48 despite a flare up of plantar fasciitis. Because my husband is self-employed we pay out of pocket for medical expenses, I would much rather pay for a massage as preventative medicine than physical therapy.
The goal is to stay healthy as increase the intensity of my training, and of course run a 3:30 marathon. However, I’ll have to hold onto all this planning loosely, considering they’ll be a newborn in our family and I’ll be learning how to juggle two kids. But I’ve got a husband who is incredibly supportive, a double BOB jogging stroller and a whole lot of determination.
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Often go awry,
And leave us nothing but fried and pain,
for promised joy.
—To a Mouse, Robert Burns
Are you training for a marathon? How is your training going? What do you do to stay healthy?