Marathon Training

Sorry that I’m jumping all over the place here, but between work, my social life, and my marathon training, my posts are much more sporadic than I’d envisioned (and therefore ad hoc).

In December or so, I had decided that I wanted to train for the big one – a 26.2 mile, 42.2 kilometer race. I was actually planning to keep it secret in case I decided to downgrade to the half. But, the time commitment just made that impossible – and besides, the encouragement of others makes the accomplishment seem bigger than I’d thought it was.

I’m training in a group with the Running Room, a Canadian retailer that not only sells a ridiculous selection of running stuff, but provides 18-week training courses for about $70. Each week, a new speaker comes to talk to us (about varied topics such as nutrition, strength, and injuries), and then the group goes out for a run together. I’ve been running with the same people for many of my Sunday long runs, too.

But as I mentioned, the time commitment is pretty significant. Every week, I do 3-4 runs, including a long run (about 2.5-4 hours), a tempo run (5 miles or so at 65-80% pace), and either speedwork or hills. In addition, I’ve decided to work with a personal trainer to strengthen those muscle groups (like my back and my gluteals) that weren’t carrying their weight, so to speak.

And, because virtually every run is building additional speed, strength, or endurance, and I’m working on strength two additional times in a given week, I need to make sure I take 2 rest days a week. Early on, I was able to skate by with one rest day, but once the training got more intense, it just wasn’t doable. One thing I’ve learned is that, if you’re committed, the biggest danger isn’t undertraining – it’s overtraining, which taxes your muscles and risks injury.

So, on the plus side, for someone used to running 4-5 times a week, getting out three times doesn’t seem like a lot. But for someone who’s used to being random – lacing up the shoes and going – it’s a mental challenge to try to fit the schedule day after day, week after week, and do particular rigorous exercises that tax your body. And trying to balance the various workout days – for instance, making sure that I don’t do anything too taxing the day before or after my long run – makes me feel like I’m constantly assembling a puzzle.

But, I figure that if the training enabled me to run 22.2 miles (16+ of them after taking a pretty brutal fall) and still be able to walk the next day, it’s worth it. And now that it’s only 1.5 weeks before the tapering period, I feel like I’m on the home stretch!

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