Well, after a short break (two weeks of no running at all following the Frederick marathon May 4, one week in the Bahamas partying hardy), we've started training for the Baltimore Marathon. It's running this year on October 11 and it's part two of the Maryland Double Challenge (the things we do for a medal to hang in the closet!). We've decided to start over, from scratch. Sort of. We (my turtle partner and I) are determined to break 4:30. Our fastest times are around 4:39. So we're close. But how do we train for a target speed?
After looking at lots of plans on the internet and talking with other marathoners, here's the basic idea: interval, tempo, and distance runs every week. We're starting out with intervals -- 4x800s with a couple easy warmup and cooldown miles on Mondays. Except that every other Monday will be hill work -- 4x hill ascents and descents. Increasing the number of reps every few weeks. Since we're trying to hit a target finish time of 4:30, we're working the intervals based on the Bart Yasso 800's theory -- so we are aiming for intervals in under 4 minute, 30 seconds. As I understand it, intervals should be run at a speed just short of gasping for air. 4:30 is too slow for that for us. So last night's intervals ranged from 3:40 to 3:50. Perhaps too fast, but I would like to have some extra gas during the marathon. I haven't figured out how fast to do the hills yet. These are especially important because the Baltimore marathon is very hilly.
Every Thursday is the distance run. A 4:30 marathon means a 10:18 pace. So we are planning to run at a 10:18 pace during our long runs. This may not hold up as the distance extends beyond 16 miles or so. I've personally run 18 miles in 3 hours, which is a 10-minute pace, but after that I faded. But I have to believe that if we want to improve our speed, we need to actually run faster. I guess it's a balance between running fast and having enough recovery time between distance runs. We'll start with only 10 miles, so we should be able to build nicely. We'll run each distance for a couple of weeks, then drop back a bit for a recovery week and then increase by a couple of miles. Gotta work out the water, especially as the DC summer rolls in.
Every weekend will be a tempo run -- 70% effort as I read it. I really don't know what that means except for a loose definition that we can converse (like all-stars), but it's hard. I think for me, this means running at about a 9:30 pace. I ran a 10-mile tempo run earlier this spring in 88 minutes, so I think somewhere between 9 and 9:30 should be about right. Maybe a little slower, but under 10 for sure.
So, that's the plan. I'm working on putting it all down on paper (or spreadsheet). Hopefully it will pay off.