All The Best Laid Plans

Fall marathon training season is almost upon us which means its time to map out a training plan! From this coming Monday to the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28th is 20 weeks. At this point, the 20 weeks also includes a 50k in July, and a 55k and relay in September. For future reference, I’d like to add a 50 miler in December/January and then a 100k in the spring. I know not every runner likes or needs a training plan. I feel less scattered and more confident when I can check off the increasing distances on my little chart. I’m a plan lovah.

This time last year I was mapping out my training plan for my first marathon. My entire goal was just to finish the distance. I patched together an 18 week plan based on Hal Higdon’s Intermediate II plan, tweaking it because his plan called for running 5 days a week and I only wanted to do 4. But seriously, what a cocky little sumbitch I was, Intermediate II for my first go round. Criminy. So I mainly chose his intermediate plan because it had several 20 milers on it, one of which I made into a 23 miler just for shits and giggles, and I wanted to be really sure of myself on distance. That said, I think his plan also called for speedwork, as you would expect from a true intermediate runner. I wasn’t hip to that crap so I just followed his plan for distances. I’m a fair-weather intermediate runner wannabe. In the end the plan worked well for me though.

For my second marathon I threw together a 12 week plan that was basically just a carbon copy of the last 12 weeks of my first marathon plan. I knew I could make the 26.2 distance so I didn’t worry about racking up so many 20+ milers instead doing more in the 18 mile range. I think I did one 19 and one 20.  I probably could have cut it down even more because I wasn’t building any more endurance in this time , just maintaining/practicing what I already had. But I like long runs an awful lot and the second marathon was awesome so it all worked out.

There was no real plan for my third marathon since I decided to do it like a month before it happened. I think I did a couple 16 milers in the three weeks between 2nd and 3rd marathons? And then the third marathon kicked me squarely in the ass. So, yeah, not a plan I recommend.

Then came the ultras. Again, no solid planning because both were decisions made about a month away from event day. I did a 22 miler before the first one and then just maintained with a couple 14-16 milers in the three weeks between ultra #1 and 2.

And here I am again, working up my plan of attack for a fall marathon. Over this past year I’ve done nothing other than just hit the distances prescribed in each “training cycle”. Gawl-lee, training cycle sure sounds fancy, doesn’t it? I’ll put “” around it just so’s you’s know that I’m not so fancy. And “prescribed” is also a little much since it was all self-prescribed. Kind of like after a long run when I am feeling sort of peaked and I prescribe myself a recovery meal of cheeseburger and cupcake.

Anyway, this time its a little harder putting together a plan because I’m not focusing on one date and one distance with no care of speed. This time I have a couple of ultra distances mucking up the middle of my plan so I need to maintain some higher mileage endurance. I also have a time goal for the marathon. Not a super crazy one but one that will require some effort and, gasp/eek/omg, speedwork. And the relay, I really have no idea idea how to prepare for that one so I’m just going to hope I figure it out as I go. So the plan is written out but its probably going to be one heck of a work in progress.

The plan is three short runs a week in the 6-10 mile range and one long run. For the short runs I want to do some speed work. Yasso 800’s seem to be the simplest track work step for me since I’ve never even been on a track. I’ll also use the Yasso 800 to test out my current time goal before fully setting my sights on it. Another speedwork idea I intend to implement is doing some marathon goal pace miles in the middle of my shorter runs. So I might do 3 miles at MGP in the middle of a 6-8 mile run. The other two short runs will be a easy run and mid-long run. The long runs will build each week with a cut back week here and there. I’ve also got some back to back long runs in the weeks before each ultra distance. I probably won’t bother with those in the weeks leading up to Marine Corps though. I’ll focus more on nailing down pace at that point.

So that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. Maybe. Probably.

I tried to put a picture of my plan on here but I’m just not that techy. I need to learn to be techy. I’ll put that on my training plan…

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