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I am planning on running my first full marathon in Geensboro, NC in October, but I am not really a rookie runner. I have been out of the sport for 25 years, but am getting back into it in 2013. So far this year I have a 5K PR of :25.29 and a 1:58 half time. I currently run 30 - 35 miles per week. I have another 5K next weekend, which I expect to get to 22 minutes, then nothing scheduled until the marathon at the end of October.
I'm trying to figure out where do I fit into some of the available "first timer" training programs. MarathonRookie, Hal Higdon, Cool Running, etc... all recommend starting 16 - 18 weeks out with 15 - 20 mile weeks, but that seems like a significant step in the wrong direction. My long runs right now are 12 -13 miles, and I can definitely say that I am out of gas. If I'm not at the wall, I'm nestled up against it really close. I'm definitely running too fast during these runs, although this past Saturday I did run 12 miles negative and didn't hit a wall, so that's positive.
I have about 30 days before an 18-week window for a training program would start. Right now I'm simply trying to build miles. I want to get up to 40-ish mile weeks (Sun - Rest, Mon 5, Tues 7, Wed Rest, Thurs 8, Fri 5, Sat 15, this week's plan) before moving into a training program. My last four weeks have been 34, 36, 26 (really beat - needed the rest, but I had a successful long run) then this week at 40. I have the next 4 weeks roughed in at 30, 35, 40, 35
Is this the right approach? Should I look at a shorter training program (with more focus on speed and strength, say) on my mileage base? Or should I back off miles and work through the shorter weeks that intro / rookie programs recommend? If so, what should I focus on during those?
Any help or direction would be gratefully appreciated.
Realistically, you're a newbie, and you fit quite nicely in the too much, too fast, too soon category. Going from zero to 34/36 mpw in 4 months is a very rapid progression. But, work with where you are at. Even though you don't have marathon experience, you probably could easily fit into (for example) the Higdon Intermediate plans or even the Advanced-1 plan. Keep in mind that these plans are guidelines and don't need to be followed to the letter. Adapt the schedule to what you are doing now and use it to plan your marathon buildup. With your current weekly mileage, it seems the main thing you lack is distance. The Intermediate-1 plan hits 30 mpw with a 12 mile long run in week 5 and might be a good starting point. Starting there would give you a couple extra weeks to spread out your long runs and allow for any (hopefully temporary) setbacks. Remember that long runs should be done about 45 to 90 seconds per mile slower than anticipated marathon pace. The plans includes "pace" runs which should be done at marathon pace. (An alternative is to run the last, say, 4 miles of a long run at marathon pace. That would probably be better saved until you have more distance on your long runs.) Do you do any sort of speed work: intervals, hills, tempo runs? If so, you might want to look at the Advanced 1 plan to see how he includes that. If not, you may be better off not starting it now.
Good luck and have fun.
Thank you for your help here. I know I've built miles pretty quickly, but I try to be really cognizant of my body's feedback, and I take extra rest days, slower/shorter run as I feel. I have (so far) had no issues other than shoe-related tonail-shedding, and I had a full physical in April in which my questions centered on the pace / distance that I'm building. My problem is that I remember what it was like to be a competitive runner in college, which has led me to unconsciously push even as I consciously try and hold back.
I use my shorter runs now as tempo / hills, usually alternating between the two. I haven't done any interval work, but I've been thinking about adding it into the short run rotation. Right now I run Tues and Thurs at my target MP (8:50 - 9:10), Mon at tempo / hills, Fri at tempo or easy, and Sat at 30 - 60 sec over pace and try to negative (1st half 9:45 - 10:00, 2nd half 9:15 - 9:30). I really struggle going out slow enough, as you surmised, and I know I need to slow down even more to build the distance (which is where I'm struggling right now.) I know it's stupid, but looking at my LRpace vs target MP, I just went, "Doh!"
I have looked at Higdon's Intermediate / Advanced plans, but I don't know how I should transition from my current "undirected" mile-building into the plan. Should I just drop mileage as I transition into the plan? I have 155 days (22 weeks) until the race. How should I use the next 4 weeks?
Thanks for your thoughts - it's extremely helpful to have experienced eyes looking at what I'm doing.
Just remember overuse injuries come on fast. One day nothing and the next a issue. 18 weeks is a long time and lots of good and bad can happen, be wise!
We all think we listen to our bodies, I am great at telling people to and don't!
I don't think you need to cut your weekly miles much if at all, except as dictated by how you're feeling. I would suggest at most do two hard days a week (tempo/hills/intervals) and one pace day. The biggest problem I see with what you're doing now is not enough recovery. Unfortunately, you're not college age any more and your body needs more time to recover from those hard/long days. If you're going to run the day before your long run it is best to be an easy or a pace day. In any case, not a hard day.
Use the time between now and the start of the plan to get your base better established. Maybe take a step-back week of 25-28 miles, then resume in the neighborhood of 35, just giving your body extra time to adapt. Higdon's Advanced-1 schedule starts at about 30 miles but can easily be adapted. It looks like you take Weds. off, so you could juggle his schedule something like this.
Mon: Hills, total 5 m
Tues: Easy, 4 to 7 m
Thurs: 5 - 7 m pace
Fri: 5 easy
So you're using his schedule as an outline, but plugging in the workouts in the order you prefer doing them. And continue to pay a lot of attention to how you're feeling. Don't hesitate to take a couple days off if you're feeling beat. You'll come back stronger for it. And you really won't miss the miles over the course of your marathon training.
Forgot to mention, if you're losing toenails, you need to go up a half or a full size in your shoes. A good rule is, when standing in your shoes, you should have a thumb-nail width between the longest toe and the front of the shoe.
Based on your feedback and Hal's (on TrainingPeak), I have just about decided to run a modified INT2 plan, where I run the INT2 mileage, but modify it by changing the Monday runs to alternating pace/hills. I was planning on skipping interval training completely and keeping my two rest days (Sunday and Wed).
Hal suggests dropping mileage back to meet the plan (even though the 3 mile runs might feel absurdly short) because it will allow any lingering / incipient overuse injuries a chance to heal / recede before getting heavy into the swing of training (to your point BOSNPM).
He also recommends running a Novice plan, in recognition of the fact that I am, in fact, a novice. I can't help but feel like I would be giving up conditioning / strength / progress by running that kind of plan.
I know I tend to push too hard, and running a "lighter" plan will probably keep me from doing something too stupid.
Thanks for your thought s and your feedback.