Starting a marathon training program is thrilling, terrifying, and tiring. I enjoy having a training plan that provides structure to my weekly routine but thinking too far ahead to the 18 and 20 mile runs is daunting. How in the world am I going to get there?
And that's when I have to give myself some ground rules...
1. Be flexible - I won't be able to do my long run every Saturday, so I'll need to do some shifting from time to time. This may cause you to miss a short run every now and then in order to fit in a long run. On the other hand - it might snow like crazy (we got 15-20 inches a week ago) and you might be forced to search out a treadmill. Blah, I'd rather be on trails. It's okay, life and my running will go on.
2. Agree to something doable (and that you'll enjoy) - While training for my second marathon one summer in my hometown I tried running 5 days a week. This training plans required 2 back to back long runs on the weekend. I had all the time in the world to run, but that wasn't the problem. After finishing 8 of the 18 week training schedule I was in tears. I was so exhausted from running that I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. And that's what confirmed for me that running 4 days a week, plus a free fun "exercise" day (walking, biking, Zumba, napping) was ideal. 18 weeks is a long time, so you better learn to love it!
3. Put one foot in front of the other - Once you find a training plan, you have to put in the time. These first 2 weeks for me have been exhausting. The running is pretty easy and I am excited to be training, but my body is just overall tired. My feet are sore from running in my barefoot shoes on concrete this week. I noticed that my right foot isn't as strong as my left, so I try to strengthen muscles and adjust my stride. And then my calves are super sore so I'm adjusting my stride again!
Now which marathon training program to follow...
As a creature of habit, I've always used Hal Higdon as my guide. Hal has contributed articles to Runner's World since 1966, has numerous running accomplishments underneath his belt, and I recently discovered that he went to Carleton College (the rival college of my alma mater). I take liberties with his programs and use them as a framework. This time I am following Intermediate 1. I will run the Tues-Thurs runs, but shift them to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I am deleting the Saturday runs and moving the long Sunday runs to Saturday. To be honest, I've never really followed the week day lengths, but I'm really going to try this time. I view this training as the groundwork for my ultra-marathon later this fall - so the goal is to not burn out, not get injured, and build an enjoyable habit.
Update on New Year's Resolutions
Good news - I finished reading 40 books in one year! I don't know if I'll ever reach that goal again, maybe when I retire. The other resolutions are well on their way - I officially signed up for the Steamboat Springs marathon, training has started, and I am researching a 50k for the fall.