I was thinking about how much has changed since I ran my first marathon and how differently I train. I was thinking about how there is utility behind the training that I'm doing right now, and I am enjoying it but at the same time, I reminisce the days in the beginning when I didn't even know that sub 3 was a thing and completion was the only goal. There's stressors on both and I'll never forget the nerves before those first long runs (I still get butterflies every week), and how much more serious I was about NEVER missing a run. I also was running much less so I do think that it was valuable that I didn't miss the runs that I did have planned.
The book "Grit" is not about athletic performance but much can be related. In one section a man says that he has been continuously running for years but never seen progress so what gives? Without even being a runner, the author asked him "Well what have you been doing to get better? Are you just running every day?" and he says "Well yes I guess so." I have a lot of people come to me and say their paces have never gotten better but they take winter and summers off and just run random races here and there and the training is not specific. It's just running miles. For you to get better, you have to have a specific training program tailored to you and your goals. Here are some of the different ways that I've trained.
1st Marathon: Philly Marathon (3:27)
3 days per week running / 4 days per week lifting
8 miles, 6 miles, long run, repeat - long runs alternate between long (12 miles) and long long (14-18 miles) - no 20 miler before race day - no specificity of training - no tempos no speed work
2nd Marathon: Grandfather Mountain Marathon (3:51- but it was up a mountain)
4 days per week running/ 4 days per week lifting
8 miles, 6 miles, 4 miles, long run - long runs alternating as before - no 20 milers before race day - no specificity of training - no tempos no speed work
3rd Marathon: Charlotte Marathon (3:15)
5 days per week running / 3 days per week lifting / just completed Ironman 70.3
Added speed drills & tempos 6 weeks out, one 20 miler
4th Marathon : Boston April 2016
Ran 4 days per week / Lifted 3 days per week - injured like 98% of training but it was Boston and wanted to make it to the finish line - didn't feel the injury at Boston nor any day after Boston - it magically disappeared???!! lol
Ultra - 36 miles May 2016
When I went to Boston I basically thought that I would have to give this race up because of the injury but then I was fine, and just did one more long run after boston and then did the ultra. It was one of those "Eh what the heck?" kind of things, and I ended up really enjoying it.
5th Marathon (at the end of an ironman): Ironman NC 3:42
Training consisted of zero strength training, capped at 50miles/week of running but this was in conjunction with 100's of bike miles and twice weekly 1 hour swims (intervals one day / steady long swim on another) - I also fell apart by the end due to starting the marathon too fast, and ended up walking like 2 miles at the end! ha! To be expected really!
6th Marathon - Myrtle Beach Marathon March 2017 3:05
6 days/week running (peaked at 70miles/week) + 3 days/week lifting (only one 20 miler and one 18 miler) - speed work started 4 weeks out and tempos 6 weeks out
I've learned that if I add in speed work or tempos when I originally start my programming before getting a good base then I ALWAYS get injured so I just wait until right before
7th Marathon - Boston April 2017 4:05
What a flop of a race after coming off the high of Myrtle Beach- literally 6 weeks after my PR of 3:05, I got a 4:05 in Boston - but we all know that race was just insane and I'm glad I even made it to the finish line to be honest - what a memory and one that I can't seem to shake and not sure that I'll be going back to Boston this year
8th Marathon - Chicago Marathon Oct 2017
This is obviously what I'm currently training for and I'm doing high mileage (~75miles/week at this point) added in tempos 2 weeks ago, adding in speed work starting next week - I do have a side left glute pain after my tempo this week (I'm telling you it NEVER fails when I do any sort of speed work I ALWAYS end up with something -it's hella frustrating so I'm going to monitor that this week and go from there- I know I had a tiny quad thing last week and that's gone so with high mileage training like this you just have to take it day by day and assess if it's actually a thing or not a thing lol).
Goal Time: Sub 3
If you look back, my training has scaled up and my times have scaled up accordingly. I used to do no specificity running only 3 days per week for that first marathon and each PR goal marathon (Philly, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Chicago), I have progressively gotten better, learned my body more and what works for me, and trained accordingly.
I also have learned that I don't enjoy the pressures of a PR race. It's just not me. I have the rest of my life to try for them here and there, and this was the year of the marathon so I'm giving it my all, but next year is the year of just enjoying endurance and I probably won't do much specificity at all unless I just feel like it right before the races and will be doing much less mileage just to be able to get to the race day and enjoy.
You choose how you want to train and the times that can be expected accordingly. I don't expect big time goals next year but I also will know why! :)
Future Next Marathons & Races & Training Plans:
Myrtle Beach Marathon March 2018 - 40-60 miles/week peak with speed/tempo work 4-6 weeks out adding strength back in (not high mileage like I'm doing now at all)
Ironman Maryland Oct 2018 - 12-14 weeks of keeping baseline running fitness up from running up until 3 months out and not starting tri training early because I burn out on this (would begin training July 9th probably (13 weeks out) with 2 weekly swims (one interval, one long), 2 bikes per week (one interval, one long), and 4 runs per week (variation of distance) with 2 lifts (lower/upper)
NYC Marathon Nov 2018 - I AM SO SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS RACE!! I will probably do like 1-2 long runs with 2-3 middle week mid distance runs coming off the Ironman to just glide into this race and just enjoy it - literally ZERO time or PR of any sort even to be contemplated! Could care less and just want to enjoy my favorite city in the world <3
I try to give my clients the same respect I give myself which is grace when you aren't feeling it, motivation when you need it, and writing every workout with the intention of YOU personally behind it and not the things that work for me or that work for others but what personally works for you to get to whatever your goal is whether that's finishing or PR! I do have some slots open if you are interested. Here is some info on this. HERE and HERE!