First of all, thanks everyone for all the positive comments and feedback you've given me in the last series of post. Your support and encouragement was really appreciated. I hesitate sometimes to discuss my hospital experiences here because most of the time it has nothing to do with running and it can be a bit mundane to everyone else but me, so it's nice to know when other runners can appreciate and benefit from some of the patient stories I encounter in my professional life.
Okay, now on to the good stuff...
After many hours of investigation (into training plans), interrogation (with coaches/experts) and deliberation (watching reruns of Glee?), I think I'm closed to finalizing a training schedule for the New Jersey Marathon on May 2nd. Now for those marathon newbies who think this should be as simple as looking at a website or opening up a book and copying down some numbers, let me assure you that this process was more extensive and time-consuming than any research paper I've ever written! Not only did I have to figure out such details as total mileage, mileage per week, training paces, tune up races, long run distances, marathon simulations, but to do so in the context of a consistent sixteen week buildup with adequate recovery to avoid injury and burnout while making every effort to "overcome inertia" by incorporating new techniques, drills and workouts into the plan and somehow fit it all within the framework of my professional duties as a full-time clinician was extremely exhausting and challenging. There were many moments while I was preparing this that I almost wish I didn't know as much about marathon training as I do. For some reason, deciding on a training plan for my first marathon was so much easier and less time consuming than it is for my tenth. I guess "ignorance is bliss" applies as much to running as it does in everyday life!
Before I unleash the glory of the training schedule for you all to behold (or criticize if it's not to your liking) let me point out a few important differences between this training plan and those I've used for past marathons:
1. Less mileage, more speed - One of the overall themes I'm adopting for this training plan is reducing slightly the quantity of miles while incrementally increasing the quality and speed of the runs. My number #1 pet peeve from last year's training was running too many miles at too slow a pace, especially on my long runs. Perhaps as a consequence, I was not able to keep up with many of my scheduled speedwork sessions. This time around I'm going to try running slightly less total mileage (average ~45 miles/week) in hopes of being adequately recovered to optimize my speed and endurance training.
2. Fewer 20 miler long runs, more marathon pace practice - There will be one fewer scheduled long run (four 20 milers) as compared to the fall, but there will be marathon paced runs galore, ranging from 2 to 14 miles this time around.
3. More hill workouts, more Yasso 800s - Something that will be entire new to me is this idea of hill sprints and workouts. I've never done them before but according to almost all the books I've read, this is the best, safest and most effective way to build running strength. As for the Yasso 800s, last year, I dabbled in them for one or two sessions. This year, they will be become a stable in my speedwork routine. I will start with 4x800s and build up to 8 by the peak of training. They will replace my mile repeats which I used to do religiously. I'm hoping this extra strength will come in handy when I'm busting for the line and I've got either two people or two seconds to beat.
4. Pace variety and heart rate zones - Since I've got so many workouts packed into such a finite space and time, I need to be focused to make sure I'm doing each run at the specified pace. To make myself accountable, I'm going to list the objectives and goals for each day's run on dailymile in terms of purpose, pace, and heart rate and perform a self-assessment on each of these goals at the end of every run. This will ensure that I plan ahead and have a clear idea of what that run should do for me in the context of marathon training even before I lace up the shoes. For someone who has a tendency to push every run hard every time out, this is an important step for me.
Okay, so without further ado, here is my training plan for the 2010 New Jersey Marathon.
Of course, I reserve the right to make changes based on convenience, work, weather, and whatever I deem fit, but for the most part, it is a done deal. What do you think? Do you like? Do you not like? Leave me comments and feedback and let me know. Like I said before, I plan to post a detail assessment on my workouts on the dailymile (which I've already begun to do for the past weekend's workouts) so if you want to follow me there (profile name: Running Laminator), please do. I'm going to do more of a generalized training update for my blog every once in a while to keep the rest of your guys in the loop. Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Let the training (and the fun) begin!