Beginning this past week, I have shifted gears from speed to distance. Speed being a relative term, my focus on interval training paid off in the 2015 Bolder Boulder as I ran a personal best. I even displayed a strong kick in Folsom Stadium, pictured here. I feel this was my best success at improving speed since I got back into road races six years ago. That said, I’ve dropped to 28th place on the Shoes & Brews 800 meter beer board. So it’s time to give up on speed and turn my focus to miles. This plan will prepare me for my next scheduled race – the Boulder Marathon in September.
I’ve established a 13 week mileage plan that begins with 60 miles per week and reaches 100 miles before tapering back down to 60. I hit my first 60 mile target today with a 12 mile run on Betasso Trail. This is a good plan considering that I am starting out already in really good shape. And because running extensive distance like this is a proven method to prepare for a marathon. Running 26.2 miles after training this arduously will be almost a non-event. There will be no nervousness at the starting line after completing this training plan.
If there’s any weakness to this plan, it’s that I’ve never run more than 70 miles in a single week – in my life. And I find that the wheels tend to start falling off if I run any further than 45 miles in a single week. Honestly, 35 miles is my sweet spot. The challenge then will be avoiding injury. I won’t hesitate to scale back the miles given sufficient pain. I’m no hero. And I’m not stupid. Can’t run if I can’t run. But I’m actually quite interested in my ability to manage these training challenges. I’ve learned tons in terms of stretching and exercises to mitigate muscle overuse injuries. Ironically, I learned much of this from my cancer physical therapy last year. My Physical Therapist, Jennifer Davia, taught me the importance of adductor and abductor exercises to keep the muscles in balance that connect the hip to the knee. The focus of that physical therapy was to be on pelvic floor recovery, but I leveraged Jennifer’s knowledge of running injuries and have performed these routines since last summer with good results.
My next concern is with recovery. Even if healthy, will I have the energy to run the next day? This week, the answer has been no. It’s possible I’m not acclimated to the heat. Colorado went from a cold spring of 70° days to 90° days literally overnight. I haven’t been timing myself but I’ve been dragging with these back-to-back, 8 mile runs. I expect to have trouble recovering after my longer weekend runs but am a bit surprised I can’t recover better after 8 milers. Hoping it’s the heat. I should probably start to consider supplements. I do take supplements that focus on electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium) but have never experimented much with muscle-related supplements. Not sure I want to but might have to keep an open mind.
My final concern regards having the time for this. I don’t generally run every day because, between work and personal obligations, who has the time? I have to commute to the Denver Tech Center twice next week, so I’ll need to adapt for that. I’m disciplined enough to average 5 days per week, but there are even times I’m too busy to run on the weekend. I’ve always made concerted efforts to dedicate myself when training for marathons. Running 26 miles is just too painful unprepared. I do have some hiking and backpacking planned for this summer. I’ll count mountain hiking miles as running miles. I think that’s fair since I typically find myself pushing my aerobic threshold as hard hiking as I do running.
My training plan consists of two week segments. The first two weeks will target 60 miles per week. Then 70, then 80, 90 and finally 100. That will consume 10 full weeks. Then I taper down to 80, then 60, and then whatever I decide to run the week of the marathon for a total of 13 weeks since signing up last weekend. I’ll keep my daily runs at 8 miles for 4 weeks, and then only add 2 miles per week to 10, then 1 mile to 11 and another mile to 12. I add the bulk of the distance increases to my weekend runs. I won’t have time to run longer during the week. And I strongly believe in the need to work myself up to 20 mile runs to condition my body for 26 miles. This might also play into my ability to avoid injury by keeping my daily runs manageable. I believe I have the experience to pull this off. But “it’s not the years darling, it’s the miles.”