I had been thinking about my marathon training over the past few days and realized that I followed a really great plan! To be actually walking around, cleaning and even willing to go for a recovery run/walk the very day after the race shows that I must have had successful training. It's not enough that I was able to complete the race (with no injury in fact) but to recover rapidly is a true testament. I figured I would share my plan for anyone who is interested...
Setting the goal to race is obviously the first step. Depending on your level of physical fitness should determine when you race. Four months out? six months out? Personally, I knew I'd be doing Hartford Marathon a year ago (right after I completed my first one). From months 1-6 (October '10-April '11), I pre-trained. I did a few 5k's, and even a half marathon. I didn't over stress about timing. I just ran to run. Got my miles in before I got down to business.
Come Spring 2011, I began training for the Ironhorse Half Marathon. It's a race I've done before... a flat course with beautiful scenery. It's at the beginning of June and I was able to PR with a time of 1:56:30. A minute and a half past my goal, but a PR nonetheless.
Post Ironhorse...let's get down and dirty...four months until the full marathon. My plan was to get a lot of cross training in (I'll add that I trained for two sprint triathlons in August and September. This helped immensely to avoid injury). My training schedule consisted of long runs on Saturdays with running and cross training during the week. I swam, biked, attended spin class, etc.
The distance of my long runs began at 6 miles and I added 1-2 miles to that distance each week. Below is a sample week from months June-September/October...
Monday: 5:45 a.m. Spin class followed by 5K run
Tuesday: 4 mile run, 600 meter lap swim
Wednesday: Weights, cross train (most likely the ARC Trainer at the gym)
Thursday: 4 mile run, 600 meter lap swim
Friday: Rest or cross train/weights
Saturday: Long run (Or brick training depending on where is was with tri training)
Sunday: rest completely
As it got later into my training, into the 15+ milers, I began to back pedal with mileage. For instance, if I ran 15 one week, I'd back pedal to 13 miles the next week, before doing 17 the following week. Then I'd go back to 13 before 19 the next week. This helped with extra healing time. I think not following this type of plan last year led to extended recovery time after the race.
Looking back on my year, I realize I was quite busy!! 2 half marathons, 2 sprint triathlons, 1 full marathon, several 5Ks, even a Warrior Dash and still one more half before the year is over.
Knock on wood...no injuries!! Definitely less running, more cross training is to credit for this year's success... and added weight training too. I'll save my weight training regiment for another post...
Hope this is helpful to anyone looking to adopt a successful training plan. In the end though, it boils down to what works for the individual. Good luck to you all!