Marathon Training. Off we go.

Some time after completing my first marathon (the ING NYC Marathon, class of 2013), I have decided in a moment of insanity that running another marathon was a good idea. I don’t know, maybe it was the idea of casually saying “well, I run marathonS” as if it were no big deal (as opposed to “I have run a marathon”). Maybe my brain was poisoned by lactate acid, maybe it was post-race carb depletion, or an adrenaline high. Maybe it was the idea that I’d get another shiny thing like this.

Who knows?

Anyway, in a moment of insanity I signed up for another marathon, this time, to run in my new home town Munich. Due date is October 12. Which is exactly 15 weeks from today. Everybody else who’s wondering how the hell June is already over and where the first half of the year has gone, will know that 15 weeks will be over in a snap.

For me this meant kicking off marathon training this week, something that evokes both feelings of excitement and dread. I loved training for New York. Given, not every day, but generally I enjoyed training for the marathon. But when I used the same training plan (adapted) to train for the Würzburg Half Marathon, I hated pretty much every second of it. I’ve since given running some time off and focused on CrossFit, yoga, cycling, hiking and getting a little more rest in general, so I’m hoping that after the break was long enough to bring back the love for running. After all, I want to run marathonS.

I’m training with Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST)‘s Full Marathon Novice plan from their book Run Less, Run Faster, after having successfully trained with their first-timer plan last year. [I bought the iPhone app, which I think is wonderful, btw.] What I really love about the FIRST plans is that while they’re extremely challenging, they allow you to crosstrain, in fact, they encourage it. Giving up yoga and CrossFit was non-negotiable to me, not just because I believe that adding strength training makes you a stronger and better-balanced athlete all around, but also because it gives me social interaction time that I don’t want to miss.

My main challenge will be balancing running, long hours at work, traveling for work, CrossFit, yoga and other personal obligations. I have a big job change coming up, a handful of travels (where I leave the house at 6AM and come back home at 10 PM) and a friend’s wedding. My summer’s going to be busy and I’ll have to be smart about managing my time and knowing when to sacrifice a workout and when not. But that’s what I love about FIRST. I feel like it gives me more flexibility and still sets me up for a successful race, even if I can’t fully complete the runs as scheduled.

Unlike most marathon plans that have you run a certain mileage, split over 5 or 6 days a week at whatever pace you need, the FIRST plan only schedules 3 runs a week at challenging target paces. The paces are based on your latest race result. You do one track session, a tempo run and a LSD (Long Slow Distance). You’re free to shuffle them around as needed, but you’re supposed to complete each run in a week with always at least 48h in between them.

My training plan consists of 16 weeks, so this week marked my first training week. I kicked it off on Tuesday with a track session. I have to admit that track is my least favorite of them all. I just hate sprinting. I hate it. No matter how hard I push, I feel like I’m never moving fast enough. It’s certainly not for lack of effort and willingness to get uncomfortable (I’m plenty uncomfortable when I sprint). It’s more like my body just says No, not today, not ever.

My first workout on Tuesday started with a 10 – 20 minute warm-up, then 3 repeats of 1600ms with 400m recovery in between, before finishing off with a 10 minute cooldown. It was hot, it was humid and already during the first interval I was questioning my sanity and asking myself how much money I had spent again on the race entry fee and whether I’d just write it off. I was really not into this run. Unsurprisingly, I missed my target pace for the interval by a good amount. The running break I had taken came back to bite me at full force. Some time during the recovery interval (RI), I realized I just have to suck it up because I’m not a quitter and even if I miss every target time, I might as well complete the workout at best effort. I did – both miss my times and give it the best I had in me that day. I remembered that I felt horrible when I first started training for New York and how fitness is built overtime. These intervals will always be hated, but they will feel less awful over time.

Friday was Tempo Run Day: the goal, run 3k easy, 3k at tempo (i. e. 10k race pace), 3k easy. I was hoping for a good run after Tuesday’s track session was such a damper for my running confidence. And what a run it was. I took the first 3k easy and then not only managed to hold the goal pace for the 3k, but also stay a little under. I generally don’t try to run faster than goal pace because I believe there is no additional benefit to it, especially so early in the training season, but on Friday the pace felt challenging but not impossible to maintain for the given time.

Today, I finished the training week off with my LSD. The LSD is probably my favorite out of the three runs. I was scheduled to kickstart with 13 km. After a handful of CrossFitters from my box were going to participate at today’s Stadtlauf, a 10k organized by a local sporting goods store, I decided to join them for the race and then add the remaining 3k afterward. I wasn’t going to race hard, but I wasn’t going to crawl either. Given my perceived state of running fitness, I expected to finish between 1:05:00 – 1:10:00. I was quite shocked when my Garmin told me I missed breaking 1 hour by just 25 seconds! (Official time: 1:00:24.) I ended up being second out of our  group of 4, finishing only a couple of minutes after the only guy who ran with us today. He’s got a foot height advantage on me, so I think he was shocked too when the Hobbit came in so shortly after him. Win! ;o)

Before. Not thrilled about the idea of running a 10k in the pouring rain.

After. Soaked, but happy.

Week 16 MUC Marathon training conclusion:

  • Track (Warm-up, 3x1600m, 400m RI, Cooldown): Toughest run of the week. Missed the target paces and was mentally not in the game. Track will be my challenge and where I have most room to improve
  • Tempo (3k easy, 3k tempo, 3k easy): Great, confidence-boosting run. Very challenging.
  • LSD (13k): Favorite run of the week, stayed under goal pace, due to the race and splitting the distance into 2 runs
  • Total weekly distance:  31.88km
  • Total weekly time: 3:27:18
  • Crosstraining & rest: 2 CrossFit sessions + 1 yoga session, 106km biked; 1 rest day
  • Feeling: overall, felt good & confident. Looking forward to track seeming easier next week

3 thoughts on “Marathon Training. Off we go.

  1. Pingback: Marathon Training. Week 15. | 3ckfoodie

  2. Pingback: Marathon Training. Week 13. | 3ckfoodie

  3. Pingback: 2014 – a year in review | 3ckfoodie

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