Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Training plans

I am going to be following what I think is a common philosophy among those coaching folks to run (and finish) a marathon for the first time: train to build your aerobic threshold, build strength, and build mental toughness...all without hurting yourself. This means, for me, running about 3 times per week and biking about the same amount.

I have two guiding plans I'm using for reference. One is the FIRST approach. FIRST is an 18 week training plan that fits my overall training goals and schedule pretty well. In general, you do one day of hard/fast intervals, one day of mid-length running at your lactate threshold, and one long run per week at slightly less than your anticipated marathon pace. The FIRST method is calibrated on a recent 5k or 10k race time. I haven't raced in a while, but I have run for the watch on occasion in the Summer. I don't think it is too far-fetched to use 22:30 as my baseline 5k time. I think I could actually go faster than that, even. But if I use that time as my baseline for a FIRST plan, they say I can run a marathon in less than 4 hours. That would be just fine by me, and a pleasant surprise.

The trouble with FIRST is that it is too much like training to be fast. I did that once upon a time in life, and I don't want to do it anymore. So I will use the FIRST approach and times as benchmarks, but I am not going to be a slave to the watch.

As a tempering influence, the training schedule from the Nova Marathon Challenge is my other guideline. This one is designed to get even inexperienced runners through, and so it is less demanding than the FIRST plan. But the basic premise is the same: run 3 times a week, do one long run on the weekend, cross train a couple of other times a week.

Both plans gradually increase the tempo (lactate threshold) sessions and long runs leading up to the marathon. Both taper off in the last 3-4 weeks prior to the race. I'll try to follow that general pattern.

A couple of other quick points:

  • I haven't picked a race to do yet, so I don't yet know when my marathon date is. It will be in the Spring, most likely, so at this point I am basically just doing the first few FIRST weeks to keep my overall fitness level. When I pick a marathon, I will make a more formal schedule.

  • During the winter, I may actually ride more than run some weeks. I trained really hard last year all through the winter and got my lactate threshold as high as its ever been...all by riding. I know that I'll still need to run, but if it is really cold or snowy out, I may swap one of the runs for a ride during a given week.

No comments: